About six months ago our then 3 year old, Olivia starting showing signs of needing to drop her nap. For us this looked like 2 hours to fall asleep at her 7pm bed time and sometimes large tantrums because she "didn't want to sleep". This was all new and out of nowhere so I put two and two together and figured it was time to drop the last nap. I however, was NOT ready. Change is hard for me and I just kept thinking "this is it...I'll never have any time for myself again". This was proving true with the first few days of Quiet Time for us. The first few days were bad. I designated a quiet time room for her in our guest bedroom of our rental that is also a "play room" of sorts. I told her she had to stay in there for Quiet Time and not much else went into it. Of course, she came out several times asking if it was over.
I am not one to sit with a problem for long, so I formulated a plan that I put into action and it worked like a charm. It's been 6 months of successful Quiet Time. While my baby sleeps and my toddler plays in Quiet Time, this mama gets two hours of time to herself daily. She loves it and looks forward to it, and so do I. I want to share what's worked for me, because I really do believe this is possible for every child.
First and most important, is to set the boundaries.
One thing I did was explain to her the rules and why we have them. I laid down the law if you will. Children respond well to this and need this clear direction. This is what we're doing now, she must obey right away, all the way & with a joyful heart. No negotiations. Seems harsh? It's not. She knows what's expected of her and there is no confusion. I told Olivia that this was both her Quiet Time and mommy's time to work. So it's my job to work and it's her job to play and have fun in here. I also let her know what time it starts and ends daily.
In our current rental home we have a designated room, but if you don't - pick a space in the house that is away from where you will be or any siblings that are napping. Think about what your child likes and design/organize it for maximum entertainment. We don't use screens in our home, but I know Olivia's favorites. In this room sits her doll houses, coloring pages + markers/crayons, her play kitchen, dress up stuff, ect. I do a rotation and make sure this space is not cluttered. Her creativity here flourishes and it's so neat to come and see what she has created after. Some days she gets so lost in her own world that she will forget to come out when Quiet Time is over.
The Yoto Story Player
I looked into several players or even CDs and ultimately I landed on the Yoto Mini Player and I am so glad I did. Since we are a screen free house I wanted something she could listen to while in quiet time. The Yoto cards are so great and the player doesn't have a screen or any bells and whistles.
Some of Olivia's favorite cards are Winnie the Pooh, Peter Rabbit and Anne of Green Gables. I can also make my own cards and I recently added The Veggie Tales Podcast and that was a total hit!
One of the things that I noticed the first week was that she kept asking when it was over. I added a digital clock in the room and told her at what time she could come out. This was huge, she loved having control over that and seeing how much time there was left. Now, she doesn't even notice the clock because this is now her normal routine. There are multiple days a week where I have to tell her it's over and ask if she'd like to come out. Many times she'll ask for more time, which I happily allow.
I often refresh her space. I do a toy rotation in here every few weeks and I pay attention to the things that she's into week by week. One week could be coloring books, her doll house, ect. I try to highlight those interests as much as possible.
Also, CLEAN IT OUT. This is huge. Kids accumulate so much stuff that can become overwhelming. I declutter once a month and throw out all of the tiny things she won't miss, or the endless amounts of coloring pages - I keep some for scrapbooking and toss others. She gets so excited when her space is clean and decluttered that it ignites the independent play all over again.
I hope this helps and don't believe the lie you often hear - that your kid is incapable of quiet time. I don't buy it. I say dig into their currency and interest and set those boundaries for them if you want it. Don't budge and in no time it will be part of their daily routine. Olivia now runs in at 1pm on the dot sometimes because thats just what she's used to now.