An important part of our day at home is Quiet Time.
Quiet Time is when everyone retreats from each other and the activities of the day to spend half an hour alone. There is only two criteria – a quiet activity and doing it by themselves.
The kids are free to do anything they like. They aren’t allowed TV or electronic devices.
In our home, Quiet Time happens after lunch. The kitchen is cleaned up, dinner is prepped and then everyone knows it’s time for some peace and quiet.
Puppy usually spends her Quiet Time reading. Recently she’s resumed cross stitching.
Now that he can read independently, Lamb devours books during his Quiet Time. It’s his first few months at regular school after almost 6 years of homeschool and after a whole morning out, he misses me. He reads in an armchair nearby as I go through nap time routine for littler ones.
Piglet just turned 3 years old so his version of Quiet Time is cuddling next to me, listening to a read-aloud while I nurse Roo. After Quiet Time, it’s naps for people aged 4 and under.
I wish I could spend my Quiet Time answering emails and writing. But consistent interrupted night-time sleep (nursing), busy mornings with a baby and a toddler and school pick ups make me too tired for that! I do the common sense thing and try to sneak in a nap after Piglet and Roo are settled and sleeping. But when it takes longer to settle one or both of them, it’s time for me to supervise the older kids and my Quiet Time flies out of the window. When that happens I find I need an extra dose of patience for the remainder of the day! I make myself a hot cuppa, take a deep breath, say a prayer, and get on with what comes next.
Afternoon Quiet Time settles all of us. It gives us an opportunity to retreat from each other for awhile and refreshes us for the time when we get together again for lessons, outdoor pursuits and other interaction. It’s a time to rest, reflect, pursue a hobby or get creative. It emphasizes respecting another person’s space or privacy. Even two year olds can begin to learn the importance of this, even while their attachment strings to Mama are still so strong. Everyone is usually more tolerant and appreciative of each other after Quiet Time!
It wasn’t easy to implement Quiet Time at the beginning because the older kids finished an activity quickly and didn’t know what else to do. They’d come knocking on the door, waking up the little ones and asking me what they could do next. So I came up with a list of things they could do. If they came asking me for ideas, I referred them to the list. Eventually they stopped asking and got down to their own devices.
Sometimes, though, they just got bored. But boredom isn’t a bad thing. I like to think it’s the other side of creativity. Children take time to learn this, and they learn it unconsciously.
I used to feel guilty “abandoning” my kids during Quiet Time but now I know better. I’ve seen them find ways to occupy themselves in a profitable way – learning how to get a snack on their own, drawing pictures, making up surprise gifts for each other and writing letters are just a few examples.
Practising just half an hour of Quiet Time every day has also yielded benefits for other times when the kids have “nothing” to do. It has taught them how to occupy themselves meaningfully without needing to watch TV, use the computer or get addicted to electronic gadgets whether it’s waiting for a meal to arrive at the restaurant or when something unexpected turns up and we have to wait for other people.
Last Friday, I successfully spent my Quiet Time napping and overslept for half an hour after struggling with littler ones having coughs and colds and being on the verge of falling sick myself. When I came downstairs to do school with the older ones, Puppy surprised me with her very first story book – a spin-off of the Mr Men series. She had written the story, drawn illustrations for each page and created an illustrated cover using construction paper. I was so surprised! When everyone had awoken up from their naps, we read it together over a tea time snack. The plot was absolutely hilarious with a guest appearance from Pegs, our dog. Besides that, the description of the main protagonist showed me a few important things on what makes Puppy tick.
Quiet Time is like an oasis in the middle of a tiring day. It’s a habit I think we’ll be keeping in our family for a very long time!
Puppy: 8yo; Lamb: 5.9yo; Piglet: 3.4yo; Roo: 4mos.