Call it a quiet time. Call it downtime. Call it a siesta. It’s good for children to take a break from the crowd and entertain themselves.
Use a Family Quiet Time for All the Seasons
My work from home and at home as a freelancer, mom, and house manager means jobs—both off site and domestic In every season. All the bodies at home on weekends and holidays means excitement and squabbles and a need of a little downtime for the whole household.
In the summer, all those bodies home all the day every day (often with The Pilot away)…well, you get it.
Use a Family Quiet Time for All the Situations
A particularly stressful time for family. A difficult season. While hosting houseguests. On a snow day. During a pandemic.
Structured downtime has been a mainstay in our home for years, from when my oldest child grew out of naps, and the middle child was but a babe to now, when the youngest is still learning to survive time by himself. Weekends, holidays, and every lovin’ day during the summer.
It’s a life-saver, this time. I work. I sometimes take a few minutes to relax. Family members get a break: from a bad morning, from noise, from each other.
My children have time to themselves to be creative with Legos, write in a journal, or escape into a story. Maybe even be a little bored.
My brain and body has time and space to renew and refresh and recharge.
And I have time to work. To do things like:
- complete my teacher’s certificate renewal
- home management/planning and freelance work
How to Establish Downtime in Your House
Start when your children are babies.
If your children are already grown out of the baby stage, it’s doable.
If you’re reading this and your children are older and you want to start one, try separating everyone for 20-30 minutes. For young children, it might have to be more like 10 to 15 minutes. It’s a new habit that will need practice and persistence.
Segue from the afternoon nap into downtime.
My children napped fairly consistently in early afternoon. That’s what worked for our family for quiet time as well. It’s a great midway point in the day for us. Pick what works for you and your family.
Prohibit noisemaking toys or mobile devices.
No bells and whistles. Superheroes, sure. Legos, absolutely, Matchbox cars, of course.
Establish a space for each child.
Quiet time means alone time. I use two bedrooms + a window area to cover three kids. The child in the window area has books, Legos, and a few other toys from his room to play with, plus a comfortable chair to sink into if he wants.
Do not allow children to play together.
Once in a blue moon, I oblige a couple of the siblings who want to do quiet time together. I always regret it.
Do not allow interruptions.
There is no calling for Mom or Dad. You’re on your own, with the materials and toys and books you’ve been allowed. Period.
Make the rule that children aren’t to leave quiet time for any reason other than to use the restroom or for an actual need.
I can’t stress this enough.