Our Daily Quiet Time is probably the reason I have not gone insane as a homeschooling mom of 3 kids ages 7, 5, and 3. I shudder to think of what the last 4 years would have been like if I had never discovered and used the magic of Quiet Time. My last child may not have been born. I don’t know.
Do you struggle with grumpy kids? Always needing to separate them because they fight too much? Meltdowns? Do you feel burned out? Disorganized? Unproductive? Does your day feel disjointed and never ending? Always wondering how long till bedtime?
Well, I’m not offering to cure all that, BUT I do think a Quiet Time will make it a lot BETTER.
Quiet Time is a daily scheduled period of time when EVERYBODY in the house takes a break to play quietly and independently – usually in separate rooms of the house.
Check out my last blog post – 6 Reasons Your Homeschool Needs Daily Quiet Time – to read more about why Quiet Time is so crucial for your kids and your daily routine.
So how do you get started? I’m going to walk you through step by step.
Guide to Starting a Daily Quiet Time in Your Homeschool
1. Decide Who
First, you need to decide who in your family will be participating in Quiet Time. I feel like Quiet Time is appropriate for any child who is in the process of dropping their daily nap…and everybody in the house that is older than that child.
If you have a child who is still napping, then I would consider that nap as their Quiet Time. You may just need to look at the child’s age and maturity level before deciding what is right for your family.
2. Decide How Long
The next thing you want to do is decide how long Quiet Time is going to be for your kids. Think about how old they are and what they can tolerate. The goal is to get to 1 hour or longer, but you will likely not start there.
You may have to start with as little as 10 minutes, and then help your children work their way up to an hour.
3. Decide When
Think about what time of day you can most consistently commit your family to a daily Quiet Time. Before lunch? Right after lunch? Later in the afternoon? Whenever the baby is napping?
My family has typically done Quiet Time right after lunch, but lately it has started to be about an hour or so after lunch. The kids finish eating at different times and start playing together. I hate to break that up if its going well!
It’s okay to be flexible with when you have Quiet Time (things happen!), but do your best to be consistent. Your kids are much more likely to go along with Quiet Time when it is a solid part of your routine.
4. Decide Where
Ideally, Quiet Time should occur in bedrooms. If your kids share a bedroom (like mine do), I would put the younger child in the bedroom, and assign the older child another room or area of the house.
The younger child should be in the bedroom because they are much more likely to be distracted by everything and run to find mommy. Putting them in a (safe) room and closing a door is a much better fit for the younger ones.
An older child would be more likely to take direction, understand the point of Quiet Time, and obey the instruction you give them.
For me, my 3 and 5 year olds spend Quiet Time in their separate bedrooms and my 7 year old is usually in our living room or my bedroom.
Where are you thinking you would place your kids? Where would you feel they would be the most comfortable and safe?
5. Plan an Activity
So this is the activity that is going to really sell Quiet Time to your kids. I am a big fan of independent, creative, self play, but it is also good to have one special activity you can hand your kids at Quiet Time that will help them look forward to it.
My girls LOVE coloring. Some time ago I discovered that you can google almost anything + coloring pages and about a million images will pop up that you can download for free. A big favorite with Middle is “Tangled Paper Doll Coloring pages.” Youngest is usually “Little Mermaid 2 Coloring pages.” Oldest is more “Horse rainbow coloring pages.”
They really look forward to picking and printing a new picture every afternoon, going to their room with a stack of books, their picture, and some crayons!
What would your kids go for? Special coloring pages? Blocks? Legos? A favorite book? Headphones and a kid podcast? Crafting items? Maybe an audible book?
***Do not let your kids watch a screen and call that Quiet Time. Screen time actually produces the opposite effects of what you are going for with a daily Quiet Time.
6. Plan Incentives
Anyone who knows me, knows that I don’t like to just wing anything – I like having a plan! Start thinking now about what you could offer as incentives or rewards for successful quiet times.
Earned screen time? Opportunity to pick the post Quiet Time snack (within reason)? One less chore that day?
Give your kids a positive reward to work towards as they get get used to the idea of rest time. It may make them feel more in control and motivated to be involved in this new process.
7. Plan Clear Boundaries
In order to earn a reward for a successful quiet time – your kids need to know what one looks like. These are the rules we have:
- You must be quiet – no loud singing, talking, or loud play.
- No leaving your room or assigned area, unless a bathroom break is needed.
- No sneaking into each other rooms (a common – but cute – problem for us)
- Quiet Time is over when the clocks turn green.
This Stoplight Sleep Enhancing Alarm Clock from Amazon is by far the best tool we have to keep Quiet Time on track. We have been using them for years! When the stoplight is red – the kids know to stay in their rooms. When the stoplight turns green, they can go! Highly recommend to use this with little ones!
8. Plan safeguards
Safety is very important. The last thing you want is for any of your kids to get hurt. Scout out where they will be staying and remove anything that you would consider dangerous (i.e. small objects, sharp items, anything breakable, blind cords tucked away, etc.)
I still do a quick sweep of my 3 and 5 year olds room when I settle them down for Quiet Time. In theory, your kid’s room should already be child proofed if he sleeps in it at night time in a “big kid bed,” but it is always good to be extra sure.
I also have a child lock on my 3 year old’s closet door (because she tends to empty her clothes onto the floor). I have also used camera monitors in the past to keep an eye on them. This is a great way to feel extra sure about what the little ones are doing.
If you don’t have a camera, a regular baby monitor is a great way to be able to talk to them without going into the room. Once you open that door and they see you, it becomes very difficult to finish Quiet Time.
9. Plan a Clear Consequence
You have already planned an incentive for a successful Quiet Time…but there is a good chance that at least one of your kids is not going to be motivated by that. Some kids will just naturally need to test the system and you will need a consequence ready that you are prepared to carry out.
I am going to stop here and remind you to read 6 Reasons Your Homeschool Needs Daily Quiet Time. Even if you are not homeschooling, there are important points there about the benefits to your child and your family. The benefits are NOT all about you getting a break. You are aiming to help your kids become more independent, creative, manage their emotions better, and increase self directed play among many other benefits.
My children receive an appropriate consequence for coming out of their room before their clocks turn green (unless of course they need to go to the bathroom). What consequence do you think would be appropriate for you kids to motivate them to follow the rules? No screen time? No favorite snack? Time out? Go to bed 10 minutes early that night?
Have something planned and make sure it is clear to them that there is a reward for following the rules…and a consequence for not following them.
10. Introduce the Routine to your Kids
Once you have planned out the details, it is time to explain to your kids (in an age appropriate manner), what Quiet Time is and why you’re doing it. Make sure that they are crystal clear on the boundaries, rules, incentives, and consequences. I like to back brief my kids by telling them something and then saying, “Okay what will happen if you come out of your room before your light is green and you don’t have to go potty?” “Are you supposed to sing loudly and bang your toys against the floor during Quiet Time?” Their answers to those kind of questions will tell you a lot.
For the younger ones, explain as much as you can, but they will learn through repetition and just going through the motions of the routine every day.
Let your kids know there will be a Quiet Time Routine similar to bedtime. If needed, show them where everyone will be for Quiet Time if that makes them feel better.
Our Quiet Time Routine happens in almost this exact order every day: Everyone picks a coloring page to be printed, everyone picks one library book, everyone goes potty and then goes to their room, I go to their room, read their story, and set their clock, everyone gets a hug and kiss…then the doors close. Every.single.day.
11. Be Consistent
Once you have explained everything to your children about this awesome new part of your routine…you actually have to follow through with it! It is crucial that you are consistent with making Quiet Time a priority if you want your kids to take you seriously and eventually fall into line.
At first you may find that your kids test the system and wander out of their rooms. Maybe they cry and beg you to come rescue them. Maybe they bang their toys together and make a huge racket. Maybe they make a mess in their rooms.
Enforce the boundaries, incentives, and discipline consistently and they will get used to it. Remember that this is no different than any other area that you are parenting out of love – brushing teeth, brushing hair, wearing shoes, taking a bath, bedtime – your child does not get to negotiate them away because he doesn’t like them.
Remember all the great benefits that come with providing this structure for your family! Trust me, you will not regret it.
Want to make sure you remember all this for later? Just pin it to your favorite Pinterest Board!