How to Establish Quiet Time with Children Not Napping

By Maggie McCormick
Reading alone is a great quiet time activity.
Reading alone is a great quiet time activity.

As young children start to give up their daily nap, parents may lament the "good old days" when they, too, got a bit of an afternoon break. Establishing a "quiet time" instead can be a happy medium, giving your child the rest he needs while allowing you a slight respite. It can take a while to get your child used to the idea of quiet time, but once he becomes accustomed to the concept, it can be beneficial for you both.

Setting Expectations

It's important to let your child know what to expect during quiet time. For example, you may want her to stay in her room or you may not care where in the house she is, as long as she's quiet. Initially, you'll have to set some boundaries, such as how long quiet time lasts, what type of activities are acceptable and where she should be. Your child may push back on some of the rules, but you'll have to stand your ground.

Getting Started

You may want an hour of quiet time, but this might not be realistic when getting started. Instead, stick with a shorter time period, like 15 or 30 minutes. Set a timer and tell your child that he has to stay in his room quietly until the timer goes off. Initially, you may have to spend some of the quiet time with your child if he's not used to being by himself. Gradually, though, you'll be able to leave him alone for longer periods of time.

Independent Activities

Having activities that your child can do independently is the key to successful quiet time. Reading books is a quiet activity that children can enjoy even if they aren't yet able to really read the words. Many children enjoy working with art supplies, such as coloring pictures or painting. Quiet time can also give older children a chance to do homework or practice fine motor skills like writing and cutting paper into shapes. Creating activity boxes that contain things like blocks, letter-matching cards or clay can give your child the opportunity to choose which activities to do.

Quiet Time Together

Though it's nice to get a break, it's also beneficial to have some quiet time together with your child. You might read stories together or play board games. You can also do more complex crafts, such as teaching skills like sewing or knitting, that your child may later be able to do independently. Quiet time is also a good opportunity to work on intellectual skills like math and reading. Baking is also a productive, fun and educational way to use quiet time together.

About the Author

Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.