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When your toddler reaches that dreaded day and drops her nap, don’t panic. You each can still have a break when you replace it with Quiet Time. But what exactly is Quiet Time, and how in the world do you enforce something like that? The good news is that Quiet Time can be a breeze with some practical tips and tricks. It’s all about building the habit and being consistent in your expectations.
Quiet Time is a period of rest that your toddler takes each day. During quiet time, she must stay in her room and play independently. Quiet Time differs from naptime because it is not a time for sleep. Lights are on and the child is free to move about the room.
It is best to schedule Quiet Time during the same time slot where naptime was. Sticking with a consistent rest period makes the switch easier, and after lunch is likely when some downtime is needed. Energy levels are low in the mid-afternoon, and rest is truly beneficial at that hour.
Luckily, you do have a bit more flexibility with Quiet Time. Naptime needed to be at a very specific time when your little one was perfectly primed for sleep. Quiet Time, however, is meant as a restful awake time. You can adjust its timing to work better with your family’s schedule. That means it’s totally fine to push it back in order to sync it with a younger sibling’s afternoon nap!
Plan on one hour of Quiet Time per day. Yes, this may be much shorter than the previous nap time. However, an hour is a realistic maximum for how long you can expect a toddler to entertain himself productively.
This is really the most important portion. Busy kids stay out of trouble. Your job is to provide engaging activities that maintain your little one’s interest. Here’s how you do it:
Buy four to six plastic bins. Fill each bin with Quiet Time activities. The bin should only come out at Quiet Time to maintain the novelty.
Switch the bins out weekly so the activities stay new and exciting. Toddlers grow bored quickly and will cooperate much more easily when they are excited about new toys, or toys they haven’t seen for a while.
Toddlers will thrive with activities that give them a task to do, or something that stimulates their sense of touch. Check these ideas out to get you started, and find more on our Pinterest Board.
While some kids will easily adjust to playing alone, others will need help getting used to the new expectations. In this case, using a timer and gradually increasing the time will be best.
We recommend the Time Timer, which offers a visual countdown. Little kids love to rely on visuals that make time concrete and trackable.
You can start with intervals as short as ten minutes and slowly increase the time until you reach one hour. Praise your child for making it through the time, even if it is short. You can also do some check-ins for kids who are really struggling, to encourage them. Keep check-ins brief, and use positive statements to reinforce their progress. Ideally, choose a length of time so short that you know your child can handle it, to set them up for success. This will motivate them to play for longer the next time.
Quiet Time benefits all kids. It gives them (and you!) the rest they need and playing independently builds their creativity and resilience! It may seem like an impossible goal, but believe us, your toddler can do it!