How to use quiet time to encourage your child to be independent (and get some free time for you)

Raluca Loteanu October 8, 2017
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independent play

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Quiet time is the perfect way to encourage independent play and also get some free moments to focus on your tasks. And you can implement it in a playful way!

For a long time, most of my blog posts were written during naptime or sometimes late at night, after bedtime. So those two quiet hours that I had in the afternoon meant a lot for me!

But things got harder as Bogdan grew! At the beginning of this spring, suddenly naptime didn’t seem to be on his schedule anymore! He was so full of energy that it was impossible to get him to bed after lunch!

After a week without any naptimes and with many unchecked things on my to-do list, I felt completely overwhelmed! I wasn’t ready to give up that time when I was able to focus on my projects! So I knew that I needed to find a way to overcome this!

Luckily, I remembered an idea that helped a lot!

When Bogdan was younger, I read about quiet time and we tried it for a while. But he was just a toddler and he wasn’t ready to spend too much time on his own. I decided to give it another try because it seemed the only way to replace naptimes with something that will make us both happy.

And it worked!

We implemented quiet time gradually and Bogdan liked the idea! I liked it even more because it allowed me to have some free time during the day, to focus on my tasks.

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In the meantime, naptimes came back into our life because we spend a lot of time in the park every morning. But we still practice quiet time on a regular basis! This way, the next time when Bogdan decides to give up his naptime, I will be more prepared!independent play

If you want to try this idea too, I’ve gathered here a guide to help you get started! If you start implementing quiet time while your child still naps during the day, you will be able to gradually increase the length of the quiet time and hopefully use it to replace naptime when that moment will come. It sounds great, isn’t it? 🙂

What is a quiet time

A quiet time is a time during the day when the child plays independently without making loud noises. It’s different from the normal free play time when the child plays on his own because it’s scheduled and has a predefined period.

When to start

The child is the one who can give you the best clues about when you can start using quiet time. If the child is already playing alone for longer periods of time, probably you can try implementing this idea.

The first step would be to see how long the child plays independently during free play (without requesting your attention in any way) and to start with that period of time. Depending on how well it works, you can gradually increase the length of the quiet time.

I started with 20 minutes and gradually increased the time by 5 minutes until we reached an hour.independent play

How to start

One good way to start is by discussing this idea with the child. I explained to my son that I need some quiet time during the day to be able to work but that I want to make that time enjoyable for him too!

I told him that he can choose nice activities to do during that time. And that we can make together a list of things that he will love to do in his quiet time!

He liked the idea and we started to make the list! I prepared everything for his quiet time (more details below) and we set an alarm to let us know when the quiet time is over.

How to make quiet time enjoyable for the child

The first condition for quiet time to work is to make it fun for the child! Otherwise, the kid will keep interrupting you and both of you will feel frustrated!

An easy way to make quiet time enjoyable for kids is to use quiet boxes. I found this idea on Pinterest and it works great!

Here is how Ive implemented it:

– I asked Bogdan what activities he will like to do during quiet time and made a list of them

– Then I added on the list some activities that I knew that he will like. I also purchased some new materials for the activities on the list.

– I created 3 boxes that included these activities and store them separately from the other materials to only use them during quiet time.

– Also, I created a box with a few nice toys only for the quiet time.

This way, every time when we have a quiet time, I have a box with activities on hand and my son is happy to try them.

He knows that he only has the box during quiet time and this makes it more interesting. He likes the toys and the activities so they keep him busy for some time while I can focus on my tasks.

The quiet time also includes a lot of free play but the quiet boxes are a good way to start it.independent play

Another thing that helps a lot is to connect with him before and after the quiet time. We play together, we talk about something he likes, or we just hug and cuddle. The fact that he has all my attention before and after the quiet time makes him less likely to interrupt me during that time.

The rules that we follow during quiet time

– When the alarm announces the end of the quiet time I always stop what I am doing and focus on my son. Sometimes its tempting to work more if he is playing quietly. But I prefer to stop because I dont want to overuse this method.

– I am very understanding with interruptions. I wanted quiet time to be enjoyable for both of us. And I knew that interruptions are inevitable!

So every time Bogdan comes to me during quiet time to tell me or show me something I stop and listen to him. Sometimes I remind him about our rules for quiet time in a gentle way letting him know that Im always available in case he needs something.

The interruptions got rarer over time, as he got used to quiet time.

– I try to follow the same schedule for quiet time every time. This makes it more predictable and easy to implement.

– I use the quiet boxes only during quiet time. Otherwise, they would be less efficient.

Also, when I see that he is no longer interested in one activity I try to replace it with another one.

How is quiet time different than screen time

Sometimes when I talk with other moms about quiet time they say that they use screen time to keep kids busy. And Im sure that it works!

In our case, I tried to avoid using screen time.

I think that quiet time is far more beneficial because kids have the chance to become more independent and use their creativity to find interesting things to do.

Also, they learn to have more patience and to focus on an activity for a longer period of time. These are skills that can help kids a lot as they grow up!independent play

How quiet time develops the childs independence

One of the things that I like most about quiet time (besides the fact that it allows me to have some time for me) is that it helps kids to be more independent.

They gain more confidence in their ability to do things on their own. And they are more likely to find creative ways to spend their time even outside the quiet time.

If you like the idea of quiet time, I recommend you to try it! Youll need some patience at the beginning to get started but its totally worthwhile!

Your child will have time to focus on nice activities. And youll certainly enjoy a time to focus on your tasks or just relax!

Download a list of things that you can include in the quiet boxes

If you want to implement quiet time and you are looking for ideas of things to include in your quiet boxes, Ive created a list to inspire you!independent play

This list contains items that most young children like. Its a great start to create your own list together with your child! All the items on the list are really easy to include in the boxes because they don’t require any preparation. And you probably already have some of these things in your house!

To download the printable you just need to subscribe using the below form.

This will also give you access to the Playful Notes community. You will find there a lot of other ideas and our full printable collection.

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Raluca Loteanu

If you find yourself on this blog I invite you to discover us as the happy family we are, who look with optimism and joy at life. If you want to contact me, you can find me on email, I gladly respond to each message.

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Comments (1 people commented this post)

  • avatar image

    Olena

    October 16, 2017 Reply
    That's an awesome idea! Gonna try immediately. We are on that time as well, when my 3-year-old daughter don't want to sleep after lunch and I feel like I have no time for myself at all. I tried screen time, but felt a bit guilty about it.

Leave your comment

Comments (1 people commented this post)

  • avatar image

    Olena

    October 16, 2017 Reply
    That's an awesome idea! Gonna try immediately. We are on that time as well, when my 3-year-old daughter don't want to sleep after lunch and I feel like I have no time for myself at all. I tried screen time, but felt a bit guilty about it.