Summer encompasses all the feels- magical moments watching your children swim in a pool together, taking family bike rides, maybe adventuring in a new place. There is more sunlight, warmth, bbqs, and celebrations. Summer brings the idea or expectation of rejuvenation. However, if you’ve got children at home, it often feels like there is ZERO rest. Hearing, “I’m bored!” or “What’s for dinner?” or “What are we doing today?” for the 743rd time may steal any vibe of a slower pace and make you want to pull your hair out instead. Which is why I am going to share how to save your summer sanity with a quiet time.
Recently, I realized I was with my four sons from the second they woke up at 6:45am until they laid on their pillows at 8pm. That’s more than 13 hours of non-stop togetherness. Wonderful, yes, beyond exhausting, yes. I used to cherish afternoon nap time where I might sit in peace and quiet, crack open a book, or get caught up on some laundry. Now that my kids are a little older, there was no break in our summer day. It was wearing on us all. I was sharing my feelings of summer burnout with my friend. It was barely mid-June. She told me that she had her children do a quiet time, alone, every afternoon when naps were dropped. Genius! We started a ‘quiet time’ immediately!
All About Quiet Time
Quiet time is a break in the day, usually in the afternoon. Each child, and the caregiver/s separate from each other and spend some time alone. The most important parts of quiet time are that people are apart from one another and everyone is doing something that doesn’t make much noise. There are many activities that could work great during this time. Some examples are reading, doing a puzzle, drawing, napping, laying down, building with Legos, listening to an audio book, playing with Barbies, dolls, action figures, etc.
The benefits to taking a quiet time are endless. The number one thing it provides is a break. Children get respite from one another, which they sometimes desperately need. Parents are able to take a few minutes to breathe and rejuvenate too. Quiet time allows children to foster their own creativity and dabble in things that interest them. Finally, it shows children the importance of spending time alone. Win-win-win. My boys love coming back together after to share with one another what they were working on. They are much more eager to play together after they’ve taken that break. It’s been hugely helpful in my sons getting along and keeping myself sane this summer.
What Quiet Time Looks Like in My House
Everyone will find their own rhythm and routines that work. In our home, after the littlest goes down for his afternoon nap, I sit and have a quick chat with my other three sons. They like to rotate rooms, not always going to the same place. Because of that, we first decide who is going where. We use the basement, living room, dining room table, and our back porch if the weather is okay. Many families like to have children go to their own bedrooms. We don’t use bedrooms because two of my boys share a room together and Baby Brother is upstairs napping and we try not to disturb him.
If my sons need it, we brainstorm a little what they will do during quiet time. Currently, my six-year-old is super into doing dot-to-dot drawings in a book. One of my eight-year-olds usually builds with Legos and my other eight-year-old has been enjoying drawing or playing with action figures. My boys will often stick with something for a week or two before moving on to something else. I start a timer on our oven, give them a special snack, and send them on their way. Quiet time for us usually lasts between 45-60 minutes. Some families might do 90 minutes or even two hours
A Parent’s Role
A parent could do anything they want during quiet time! The urge to clean, fold laundry, and, in general, be productive, will be strong. You’ll look around and see all you should be doing. However, remember this is a break for EVERYONE in the family. This is the reset and break that is missing during summer with kids. So please, do something that helps you feel rested. Read a book, water your garden, listen to a podcast, talk with a friend on the phone. Do something that helps fill your cup so that when quiet time is over, you are all ready to spend time together again. Get some positive energy back. Try hard not to use quiet time as an excuse to pick up after your kids. That often adds to the exhaustion and burnout feeling.
I don’t always do something just for me- sometimes I will tidy or fold some laundry because it makes me feel good. But often I will read or write. In fact, I’m currently writing this piece during our quiet time. My kids seeing me spending time to myself, doing something I love, is setting a good example, I think.
How to Start Quiet Time in Your House Right Away
The first suggestion to beginning quiet time is to talk with your kids about it. Acknowledge how important it is that everyone in the house is able to take a break from one another in order to keep a positive energy! Let your children know what they can expect from quiet time and when it will happen. Next, make it special. Have your children come up with a list of choices for what they might do. Go to the store a pick up snacks they will only eat during quiet time. That was one of my sons’ favorite parts at first- the new snack!
Start small. Begin by only having a quiet time for five or ten minutes. Increase the amount a little each day. It took our family several weeks to get into the 45-60 minute window. I’d also recommend keeping consistent. You likely won’t get into a good groove if you only do it once or twice a week. Continue having a quiet time even on the weekend if you’re able. Finally, give yourself and your kids a lot of grace while you get used to this new routine. It will have hiccups. Sometimes my kids have a hard time calming down enough to make the time actually quiet. Other times my sons try to go into each other’s areas because they like what one of their brothers are playing with. Be flexible, and adjust when something isn’t working.
Summer is such a beautiful time for extra moments with our kids. If the togetherness is feeling like too much and alone time feels non-existent, give quiet time a try! It may just save your sanity and save your summer.