What's in this post...
Who know quiet time was so beneficial? As a mother of multiple children, it’s more than that. It’s a great break in the day for us all. Here’s what you need to know:
The concept of quiet time or rest time for little one comes up for most moms when their their toddler/preschooler is dropping their afternoon nap.
You’ve enjoyed hours of afternoon reprieve for some alone time. Or maybe you used that time to work or get chores done and now… your little one is on a nap strike.
Or more accurately… they’ve grown out of the need for a nap. But still need some quiet time of rest.
Don’t go from afternoon naps to full on busy days without keeping that space for quiet rest. So let’s get into what rest time for toddlers looks like.
Let’s Define Quiet Time for Toddlers
Rest time is when your child goes to a predetermined location to play quietly at a time determined by you for a duration determined by you.
This is not the same time as a child playing alone during the day focusing on one toy. It is a structured time.
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What does it a quiet (rest) time routine look like?
In our home rest time began at the same time the afternoon nap did. 1 p.m. The child goes into their crib (with toys) or their room (with safe toys) or wherever makes most sense for your child.
And they play there quietly for the duration of the time you have chosen. When your child gets into the groove you’ll soon start to see them loving this time.
➡️ This will typically replace independent play time.
What does it not look like?
- Screen time (this is totally separate to rest time)
- 5 or 10 minutes of solitary play here or there throughout the day
- Shoving your child in their room for long periods randomly to get a break
So…how do we get our toddlers to a place where they enjoy quiet time? Don’t worry, I’m going to talk about that! But first…
What the the benefits to a toddler’s quiet time?
One of the best benefits to a toddler’s quiet time is you get to see their true little personalities shine.
I remember listening in and cracking up while one of my son’s made up stories based on the pictures in a book he was “reading.” He couldn’t read, but he could sure make up a funny story. It was priceless!
But really… here are some benefits:
- Toddler’s gain independence,
- learn to love creativity,
- rest their minds to prevent over-stimulation,
- grow in fine motor skills,
- raise self-awareness,
- begin to self manage time,
- build confidence,
- give you a break from then during the day, and
- learn to appreciate things such as organization and a tidy room (as you’ll have them tidy up after rest time)
How to Ease Them Into It If They’re Resistant
Nothing is fun when you’re in full fledge meltdown.
When you’re toddler is over-tired or over-stressed, introducing a quiet time might feel like a “time out”. This is clearly NOT what we’re going for here.
Let me say that again… quiet time is not punishment.
On the contrary, it is a time to enjoy. It can become a person’s favorite time of the day.
I have found these tips to be extremely successful in easing a child into a peaceful quiet time:
- Pick a time during the day that is low impact. In other words, nothing important is going on that they are going to “miss.” This is why the former nap time is good, they’re used to it.
- Have some toys, books, etc. specifically chosen for their “quiet time.” Organize them to build interest. Nothing that’ll make too much of a mess, be dangerous in any way, or that will cause frustration. Choose imagination toys, if possible.
- Reassure them that you’re not going anywhere and don’t sneak around.
- Remember to tell them what you want them to do, not what you don’t want them to do. In other words, tell them to stay and play quietly. Don’t say: “stop getting up and running in here to me.”
- Take small steps. The first week may only be 15 to 20 minutes of quiet play.
- Stick with it. It’s a valuable skill that you are teaching them. These lessons are not going to be learned overnight, but it’s worth it.
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Here are some tips for making quiet time safe:
- Especially if you have a young toddler giving up their nap, start their rest time in their crib with some toys you choose.
- Have specific quiet time toys (bigger blocks, dolls with no small pieces, etc.).
- Remove any dangerous objects such as things they can pull down on themselves or choke on. Bolt furniture to walls or use straps to prevent from falling (in case they are climbers).
- Use baby monitors if you’re out of eye shot.
Keep the Peace
Having a healthy quiet time each day is beneficial for many reasons… as we discussed earlier. I see it as a soft spot during the day for relaxing and decompressing.
You want to make this time peaceful for your little one. Often your little one will fall asleep while playing. If they do this towards the end of rest time, let them nap a bit and then wake them up. If they start their nap late and sleep late, bedtime will be hairy.
Check off critical household, social, and hygiene skills for your child so they’re prepared (not petrified) of growing up!
Some kids may like some softly playing music as background noise. One of my little ones does well with a Sound Machine. I think this is mainly to block out any sounds (outside of his room) that may be a distraction to him.
Quiet Time For Kids Of All Ages
Now that my children are a bit older and afternoon quiet or rest time isn’t baked into their day, we have it before bed. About 45 minutes prior to kisses, cuddles, and lights out, my kids will go to their rooms with some books.
Picture books if they’re not reading, or any type of book they’re interested in if they are.
When I started this I made it super enticing. I propped them up on comfy pillows, stuffed animals on both sides, turned on their light music and covered them with their comforter or soft blankets.
Even now, sometimes the kids fall asleep before I come back to kiss them good night. This prevents the Before Bedtime Second Wind and also is just generally a great wind down practice.
Quiet (Rest) Time FAQs
Rest time will probably be an hour. Some children who are in the zone and loving it may even play for upwards of 1.5 to 2 hours. You can play it by ear, but aim for a good hour.rnrnTime will fly when they’re used to it and enjoying this time.
Depends on who you ask. Ask your toddler, then no. Ask a mother, YES! Of course you can get through the day without a quiet time, but it’ll definitely help center moods and calm your child’s spirit.rnrnAnd likely your own.
Quiet and rest time helps center your child. There’s no aggravation from other siblings, no loud noises or music, no having to share, no distractions. Your child will be able to go into a play world of their own and the benefits of this are limitless.
To set up a quiet or rest time, create a welcoming environment for your child in a place of your choosing. Select safe age appropriate toys that will allow some room for the imagination, and explain to your child what’s going to happen.rnrnYou decide the time and you decide the duration.