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Quiet time (aka: how I survive in a tiny home with two small children) is very important around here. Both of my kids gave up naps right around 24 months. It was bearable with Lulu, but after Abram quit, I knew I had to find an alternative.
A few months ago, I started implementing daily quiet time and it has changed my life! Once a day, usually right after lunch, both kids head to their room and spend an hour quietly playing. During that time, I get a chance to answer emails, edit, blog or nap (especially lately!). I really didn't want to make quiet time a punishment or miserable for anyone, so we started out by just doing 15-20 minutes and have extended it to an hour.
Lulu especially does really well when she understands the reasoning behind everything, so explained to the kids how important it is for our bodies to have rest during the day, even if they're not sleeping. I stressed that while they're having quiet time, I am too! I rarely do any housework during this time or any kind of loud activity.
I think the key to successful quiet time in our home has been audiobooks. Every time we go to the library, I pick up 2-3 audiobooks that are around an hour long. The kids choose which book and quietly listen to the entire thing. They know that when the story is done, so is quiet time. I like this because it prevents them from constantly asking if they can come out. I don't know how much of the stories Abram actually grasps, but Lulu is getting really good at focusing through the full hour. Either way, they both listen quietly. I keep the volume pretty low so that they have to be quiet to hear it.
They often choose the same story for 3-4 days in a row and sometimes they want to listen to it at bedtime too! A few recent favorite books: Juana & Lucas, Where Are You Going Baby Lincoln?, Horton and the Kwuggerbug, and The Magic Treehouse series. While we usually check them out from the library, I've purchased a few on Amazon as well. If you're okay with buying used (I am!) you can get most audiobooks for around $4-$5.
Other quiet time activities that are very popular:
- Pop Beads: I found two of these big canisters at Value Village for $5. Both kids like making patterns, long chains, necklaces, rings, bracelets, etc. They're a really nice, quiet activity that they can do for a long time. I enjoy sitting with them and stringing them together too sometimes!
- Magna Tiles: I got the kids a set of these for Christmas and I ended up buying a second set last month because they played with them so much!
- Books: I've mentioned before how much we enjoy our local libraries. We usually check out between 50 and 60 books a week and the kids spend hours looking at them.
- Other: A friend of mine recently posted about how her little guy enjoyed playing with their Battleship game. I found a game at Value Village for $3 and gave each of my kids one of the "laptops". They both love carefully putting the pegs in the board, making patterns, playing with the boats and making letters with the pegs (Lulu). They both also love these Water Wow books from Melissa & Doug and sometimes spend the whole hour carefully painting.
Sometimes they choose to just lay quietly and listen to the story, which is just fine with me! It's been a good way to transition Abram away from naps. If he's really tired, he does fall asleep during quiet time, but usually he just enjoys the down time!
I usually ask the kids to stay on their beds, but it's not something I strictly enforce unless they're having a hard time being quiet together. As I said earlier, I really don't want quiet time to be a punishment or a fight. So far, it's been great for all of us and feel like the kids are starting to appreciate the time as much as me!