The quiet hour

After lunch and story time we have “quiet time” at our house. This is a time in which, theoretically, everyone is quiet for a period of one to two hours (preferably two). My youngest (nearly two) goes down first, and then I bring our three-year old to his bed. Then my daughter (five) supposedly plays quietly in the living room while I get to go to my bedroom, crawl atop the bed with my journal, Bible and a snack. And after that, read my book or take a nap and have, ah!… quiet.


A couple of things have made me revisit this whole idea.

First, my daughter’s quiet time is very quiet, but she interrupts me frequently. When she’s in the living room she pops in every 5-10 minutes to keep me informed of what she’s doing or has done, or she wanders in to ask the dreaded, Now what should I do?” And she goes through seasons (this being a long one of them) where she requests to sit beside me while I have my quiet time. Which I could be stern about and stick by the "rules", but then… there she is, clutching her Bible story-book and her “journal” and pen, and longing to be like mommy. What can I say? So I say yes, and there she sits, quietly, but then every few minutes whispering, “Look at what I wrote, mommy.” Or, “I’m reading about Sampson today, see?.” Very cute. And yet, I am missing that peace that I get when I’m all by myself.

The other thing is that I’m wondering if my three-year old doesn’t need a nap anymore. (My wonderings are based on the fact that when I put him down, it takes him a good hour to go to sleep and then he lies awake for a couple of hours after we put him down at nighttime.) Sigh. I am not eager to part with his nap, and yet… I fear the time has come. But if he is done with napping, then we need to move into a quiet time for him, too, which makes me revisit what is and isn’t working for our quiet time. And it’s not working.

So. To all of you mamas who have quiet times at your house with pre-readers, what do you do that works for you? Do you gather materials/projects/books/puzzles beforehand so that they are occupied? Do you set a timer? Do you discipline when they interrupt? Do you ever let them join you? Tell me what is working and what doesn’t work so that I can avoid those, too!


  1. Feb. 16, 2007 - Food for thought
    Posted by Stacey
    I will have to give this some thought. We do quiet time here, structured much like yours and our youngest (almost 3) seems to be showing some of the signs your 3 year old is....ack. I am not ready for that!!

    My daughter takes her quiet time without interupting me for the most part. I am hoping he will do the same...but he probably won't.


    Feb. 16, 2007 - Ah, the naptime question.....
    Posted by Joni
    Okay, Stacy, this might sound weird, but I still put all of my kiddos in their rooms for quiet time each day. Baby (2) sleeps and even though my biggers at 4 and 5 don't nap everyday, they are expected to play with their room toys or read quietly during that time.

    Now, granted, they don't share rooms, so we don't have that issue right now, but as soon as baby is out of her crib, the girls will share, but I'll still try to separate them for quiet time. (Oh, and in England, they'll definitely be sharing rooms. Don't think I haven't,, thought a lot about that one!)

    They aren't allowed to get out of their rooms. And there are still some days when I "encourage" everyone to nap because a big night's coming up or they're very whiney or whatever.

    Pondering your sweet message from yesterday and will respond privately to you soon!



    Feb. 16, 2007 - Untitled Comment
    Posted by Anonymous
    My youngest (almost 2) naps for a couple hours a day and when she goes down it is quiet time for the 6 and 4 yr. old. When the weather is nice, they usually play in our back yard (I can see them). I don't really have a designated place for them to be (I probably should think about this) because if they are in their rooms, they wake the youngest up. Sometimes, they do puzzles, color, Playdoh, dot-to-dot, etc. at the kitchen table. And sometimes I let them watch a movie or play the computer. I don't have the great system, still working on it. Seems like just when we get in a good routine, something changes.

    Maybe you could find a good spot and designate that as a place your daughter can sit down w/her Bible?



    Feb. 16, 2007 - Untitled Comment
    Posted by MicheleinNZ
    I am just beginning to wrestle with the question of quiet time. I certainly do NOT want to give up a quiet time at our house. I definitely need it by 1 pm, even if the kids don't. Our oldest is 3.5 and a few times a week she won't actually sleep. During these times she's required to stay on my bed (she shares a room with her younger sister) and be quiet. I let her read books, but she must be quiet. And we have a 2 hour quiet time, which I strictly enforce, for my own sanity. But I'm thinking that we're going to have to come up with some alternative activities that she can do unsupervised, quietly.
    We do occasionally have to discipline her when she's simply not being quiet because it's a matter of her not obeying, but we don't have to do it often.


    Feb. 16, 2007 - Untitled Comment
    Posted by Rebeca
    I've been waiting until quiet time to respond to this. :>
    I lived one summer with a family with five children and one more on the way. I think the oldest was about ten. Every afternoon following lunch was quiet time. For everyone. The kids actually enjoyed it and missed it if they were out for the day. It inspired me as I saw it work and saw that the Mom could a little rest each day too.
    Peregrine gave up sleeping in the afternoons about a year and a half ago. For some time after that he was content to stay in his bed with some books. Now that he's a bit older I let him have one story tape and he also has a couple of CDs he can play. I let him choose a toy or set of toys before his rest and he's to stay quietly in his room and play with them, look at books, and/or listen to a tape or CD. I aim for about 1 1/2 hours. Alethea usually sleeps for about two hours, so after she goes down I often have some time reading or doing a project with Peregrine.
    This, of course, doesn't work perfectly all the time, but for the most part it works well. I think it's good for children to have some alone/quiet time, and very good for Mama!
    I hope you figure out what's best for you!


    Feb. 16, 2007 - It's so funny you bring this up!
    Posted by momco3
    We have just had a break-through in our afternoon quiet time at our house. It's not perfect, but it's a miracle for us, nonetheless.
    I'll post it this weekend (sorry for the teaser-- I'm not finished writing it!) and maybe we can "chat" about it.


    Feb. 16, 2007 - Quiet Time
    Posted by Anonymous
    I just spent the better part of this evening talking with my husband ("ranting" probably describes my tone of voice better) about quiet time at our house. It is not going well. I think I realized today that I have been hanging on to what Quiet Time used to be at our house a little too tightly. And now that our (very wiggly, noisy and active) 2.5 yr old is not sleeping at all during his "nap", we are needing to make some changes so he is not waking up his 1 yr old sister each day during her nap. What is working for us right now is this: The 1 yr old begins her nap at 12:30. Our oldest, age four, rests with books and occaisionally a puzzle or small set of toys on my bed from 1pm to 2 30pm. He is usually able to stay pretty quiet and we have a rule of no calling for mommy. The 2.5 yr old supposedly rests on his bed with books from 1pm to 3pm. I used to go in and turn a tape on for him half way through and he would fall asleep at that point. This no longer happens. Instead, he makes lots of happy noise, stands up on his bed and watches out the window and usually ends up waking up his younger sister in the process. I spend much of my Quiet Time disciplining him and grumbling about disciplining him. We are in the process of coming up with new Quiet Time plans for him and I'll let you know if we come up with any thing that helps. I'm curious to see what others will share also.
    Ooh this is kind of long...Maybe that's not appropriate blog/comment etiquette?

    Rebecca M


    Feb. 17, 2007 - We just started down this road....
    Posted by Sandi
    My 3 yr old has stopped sleeping everyday in the last three weeks. We on on the learning curve as well.You have sparked some thoughts with this post. I am going to put my response on my blog.Thanks for asking such good questions!


    Feb. 17, 2007 - for Rebecca M~
    Posted by reformingmama
    I know the feeling (the ranting and exasperation!)... that's what led me to write this post! :)

    I found that, too-- that what used to be working for Quiet time simply isn't anymore. And I am spending much of my "down time" crabby because it isn't. Time to make some changes!

    I think it's time for me to get serious about the "no calling for mommy" rule at our house. I used to enforce that more, but have gotten lax in it...

    Yes! Please do tell me what you come up with at your home... :)

    And you can leave as long of comments as you want, anytime. The more details the better, as far as I'm concerned. I love 'em! :)

    Blessings to you and your sweet family, Rebecca.


    Feb. 17, 2007 - Still figuring it out...
    Posted by Elise
    ...just like everyone else!
    Although, the "no calling for mama" rule is strictly enforced, and separating the boys is the best way for them to be undistracted and engrossed in their activity, be it reading, puzzles, or legos.
    I walk on my treadmill during their rest time - 3-4 pm, and that's it for them as well! I've just had to shorten that time I used to expect, and I suppose it will all shift again when the baby goes from 2 naps to 1!
    You'll get used to a shortened rest time, if that's what ends up happening, as I have. At first it's awful, and I feel frustrated, like I'm not getting enough me-time, but eventually I'm okay with it!
    Hope this helps, and I'll be praying for all of us, as it seems we are in the same place! ;)


    Feb. 17, 2007 - Me again... with more thoughts
    Posted by Stacey
    Well, here is what we do. And for us, it seems to work. We have certainly gone through growing pains in this area and probably will again quite soon. Oh well.
    For NOW, our routine is as follows:

    Prior to lunch have a good hour or more of high energy outside play. Then, they come in and if it was really cold, I give them a warm bath, then some warm food for lunch (soups, oatmeal, chili, mac n cheese) and then they are sent off for quiet time.
    We try to mimick bed time as much as possible, so first we read a story and say our prayers, then they each get in their beds and get a snuggle with me individually. My son sleeps in his bed for naptime. But my daughter is taking her quiet time downstairs in our playroom. There is a bed, a couch by the tv, and a bathroom as well as myriads of books and toys. So, depending on the day, she will either rest while watching a movie (usually something quiet like Tiny: The Seventh Brother, or the Velveteen Rabbit) - and occasionally she will fall asleep while watching; or she will just get into the cozy guest bed and fall asleep, or she will play quietly for the whole 2 hours.
    I am loving this arrangement because while we have a fairly good size home, I found myself paranoid about her every little noise when she was up here for quiet time - thinking she would wake her brother, or annoyed that she was disturbing my peace (I know, mother of the year right here folks). Now, she gets her need for privacy and quiet play/rest met and I have a greatly reduced stress level!!! =)
    When 2 hours has passed, she can come on up and hang with me, usually doing something more "creative" like playdoh, or coloring while I cook dinner.

    SO, that is our routine, it works for us. I know it will be altered again shortly as our little man gets older.


    Feb. 17, 2007 - Untitled Comment
    Posted by Anonymous
    Hi! My almost 4 yo daughter does the exact same thing. I have been letting her be in the room with me, she is such a treasure. I have been learning that even if I cannot have quiet time entirely to myself, then to rejoice in the blessing that my daughter is. Have a blessed evening in Him.
    In Christ,


    Feb. 18, 2007 - quiet time...
    Posted by Anonymous
    Hi Stacy;

    I would like to share that all of my kids are nappers ( 6 kids- ages 16-3). Now we don't nap everyday, but we do nap often enough. If there bedtime will be later than 6:30 or 7 pm (for those under 10 yo), than a nap is in order. Definitely for church night midweek-then we don't get home until 9:30ish.
    I find that my kids (okay so only one is biological, so I can't say it is a genetic thing)...need a lot of sleep. Generally we are up early (early to bed, early to rise...) and I have always found that being a stay at home, home schooling mom- that naps are important-for peace in our household and good health overall. VERY early on we made is a rule (okay I dictated the rule and they were told to follow it ;-) ...that for nap time you could say one of two things when I announce nap time.... 1. "Mama, I am not that tired, may I have a short nap?" or
    2. "Yes, Mama." Knowing that they "HAD" to sleep (or trouble!) and that once truly asleep they could not control the "time". Usually the nap time is between 1 1/2 to 2 hours in length. I try to opt for early afternoon- so they have plenty of play time to get tired. (with dancing and lots of physical play, this is not to hard to achieve. )
    I am a HUGE believer in naps and really have found for my troop that is a matter of obedience more than anything else. They all fall asleep quickly when obedient, the only trouble I have is the "disobedient" occasional child. When my last three (ages 5,4 and 3) arrived at our family in May (through foster care)- I was told by their foster mom that they DIDN"T nap. The social worker and I questioned each other as how that could be- but when they moved in permanently (pre-adoptive) they all began to nap. (they had been in the previous foster families house for over a year-!) I separate the little ones (the new siblings-5,4 and 3) into separate rooms. (I freecycled extra crib mattresses and tuck them under beds in the spare room and one next to my one sleeps in their shared room, one sleeps in the spare room, one in my room (my three oldest share a room and can sleep together without any disobedience occuring. (now ;-)
    Anyhow, just my two cents. My sixteen year old doesn't nap daily- but quite often during the week will give herself a nap. I guess you grow to crave it-;-)

    Yawn, somehow I am feeling a bit sleepy;-)



    Feb. 18, 2007 - quiet time
    Posted by Amy
    One thing I would like to add:
    Don't underestimate how important non-stimulating time is for our kids.
    They need a bit of time each day (in my opinion) where they are alone and quiet. Where they don't talk to us, where they aren't talked to. To be still. It is when they have this that they will do better the rest of the day.
    I think as moms, we sometimes feel quilty about enforcing this strictly because we enjoy it so much. And since we enjoy it (the quiet hour) it must be selfish. But instead, it is what is best for our kids too.
    Also, learning the skill of being able to be alone and hold onto your thoughts and needs etc. for just an hour is good. Especially in our families with many exciting people!
    What works for us:
    My 6 year old who has not napped for a while now is given directions like this; "you need to lay quietly until 1:30, then you can read books or listen to books on tape (with earphones) until 2:30 and until 3 you can play quietly." He knows that if he disobeys on one part it gets extended. So if I have to remind him to be quiet before 2:30 then he can't get out the books until 2:45.
    For my four year old who skips his nap a couple times a week; "you need to lay in the dark quietly until the first number on your clock is 2 to give your body a rest, then you can turn on your light and read books on your bed quietly until the first number on your clock is 3." He does not get to turn on his light at 2 if he was noisy or I had to talk to him prior to that.
    Also, we have "after-nap-snacks" (as you know ;) and they both know that any nap-time disobedience means that they do not get that snack. And we usually talk about what that snack will be as we cuddle before our naps.
    So, that is what works for us.

  2. Hello again, Stacy and everyone-

    So this is what we have decided to try with the busy 2.5 yo at nap time. We've broken up his rest time into three different segments (this will be short because one of the segments is now ending and I need to move him into the third.) 1) reading in bed with books 30 min 2) listening to a tape in bed with no books 3)playing quietly on a blanket in our family room with a set of toys of my choice. I am hesitant to have him come out of his room for any part of his rest but we'll see how it goes!
    I did like Amy's thoughts about the importance of disciplining our children to observe a real restful time on their own... I'm still puzzling over whether or not Mr. Busy 2.5 yo needs to go in that direction more instead of the one we've chosen for now. Mainly I think he could really use more physical activity during the day-I think that would help a lot.

    I've enjoyed reading all of these great comments!
    Rebecca M


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