Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Quiet Time

When people ask "how do you do it?" I often forget to tell them about the one sanity preserving secret that I have learned from other homeschooling moms of many. Let me tell you about the joy of quiet time. The idea is that your children do not ever stop observing the afternoon nap time, when they stop sleeping it switches over to time in bed alone. In our house, quiet time follows lunch (or sometimes an after lunch walk/bike ride), and lasts for an hour and a half.

During quiet time, PT reads (I count this as "school time" in his hour reports for the district, I call it sustained silent reading which is a legitimate thing that should be happening in school anyway, and he sometimes has assigned reading for some portion of the time). Merry colors. The Lion naps. And the twins -- ah, the twins, they are in the rough in between stage, too old to sleep, most days, and too young to quietly entertain themselves. Sometimes this means that I spend much of quiet time reinforcing and policing, but lately, being pregnant, I have really needed to lie down and sometimes even sleep during quiet time, so right now it is safe to say that they are basically destroying their rooms. If they are seperated, the damage is not too great, but if JJ sneaks downstairs that is when things get exciting.

One day last week they climbed out the window (first floor, but still, I found them balancing on a window ledge outside of the house). Today they were just generally loud, so I had them come into my room, where I assigned them each a pillow and spot on the floor and promptly fell asleep myself. I figured that I would hear them if they got up to too much trouble. I slept through most of it, and things seemed fairly intact at 3:30 when we went back to our other activities, but tonight when I went to my closet I did find that the laces had been pulled all the way out of my sneakers. So now, as my dear husband sits with a size 11 sneaker and a screw driver trying to put the frayed laces back through their tiny holes, I think it is time to give JJ and MaryB some very specific activity for quiet time, a little basket of toys perhaps which will keep them occupied for this very important time. After all, they may not need a nap, but I do!


Maria said...

So glad to hear I'm not the only one with naptime issues at the lovely in-between stage. My eldest is 3.5 and has given up actually sleeping most days over the summer. I've been very frustrated having to spend my naptime policing his (with a six month old that has been sleeping poorly at night I've been in desperate need of a nap) to prevent him from waking the younger two. I've often felt like giving in on the whole quiet time endeavor. I know that is REAL insanity, though. I'm feeling renewed after this post, though. At least, I don't have to police twins!

Sophie said...

Yep, we enforce at least 1 hour of quiet time for our 5 yo as well. I believe everyone needs a break, not just the mommy! He often comes down much happier and renewed even if he doesn't sleep.

I've found also that lots of exercise just before or after lunch helps a child who is in between stages to still nap.
I've also woken him up earlier in the morning to be sure he would take a nap in those in between stages when I was pregnant and needed one myself!

4ddintx said...

I'm a firm believer in quiet time for everyone. My 9, 7, and 5 year olds play/read quietly in their rooms and the 3 and 1 year nap. I'm pregnant so I often nap.

I can see a difference in how all the girls behave with each other if even the older girls miss quiet time. They are more grumpy and apt to fuss with each other than if they get that time alone to recharge.

Everyone who's at the in-between stage (mine is coming up again soon!) hang in there. Quiet time=sanity! It's so worth it to teach the children to play quietly, alone, by themselves for a time each day.

Mary Alice, is there any way you can split the twins up? Maybe one on the couch or on a blanket on the floor in another room? (With firm instructions to not move off this blanket--it's your special quiet time castle/fort, etc?) I know where to have them may be the problem, but it's so much harder to be quiet with a sibling than by yourself!

Right Said Red said...

Quiet time is truly the way I stay sane. Having a husband who works long hours, we have many days where I am one on one with the kids all day. While it is truly a blessing to spend so much time with my children, I do need a bit of a break in the middle of the day to refresh. My oldest, age 4, is a bit too old for a nap. She takes a quiet time for 1.5 hours EVERY day. I give her books to look through, and some dolls. She plays quietly in my bed while 2yr old and 6 month old nap. In our house, it is very important to separate them all for quiet time.

When the kids get older I plan to continue with quiet time every day. The older children will read or pray, and I will rest. I have spoken to several more experienced mothers of large families and they have all affirmed for me that quiet time was the reason for their sanity. They also warned me, as a homeschooling mom, not to be tempted into scheduling regular afternoon activities for the older ones during quiet time. I know this will be a very hard temptation for me as Gianna gets a bit older and I want more socialization for her. While we may bend with an occasional once or twice a month early afternoon trip, I am going to try very hard to stay committed to quiet time everyday. We will see how it works out!

Elena said...

Mary Alice,

I am a mother of five-year old twins (girl and boy), a 2 year old boy and an 8 month old boy. My five year old boy is extremely active but has always loved books. I found the only thing that can keep him in his room, occupied and out of trouble is giving him books on CD/tape (the longer the better). Listening to stories keeps him as engaged as sitting in front of the TV which is something I try to avoid. At age five the twins now play quietly together and are separated if they fight or get into trouble.
On a humourous note, I too found a twin hanging out a window during quiet time. However, the window was 15 feet off the ground and he was balancing on the top of an air conditioner. Thank God I listened to the still small voice that told me to get up and check his room because he just might be in the window. Thank you Guardian Angel.

Good luck and God bless.

Jennifer in MN said...

Love quiet time, I always wished it lasted longer, esp when I'm pregnant!

Funny family story: my grandmother was pregnant with my aunt and needed to lay down and take a nap so she shut my mom and her in the bedroom for naptime. Mamaw went to sleep and my mother proceded to cut the curtains off the windows!! Yikes! I'm sure my grandmother was less than pleased, but they loved to tell that story years later.

While I have similar destruction stories from my children (which they add to all the time), I don't think I've found any of them going through or hanging from a window--and for that I'm eternally grateful, I have enough fears about them getting hurt!