Recently my kids and I were eating lunch when a neighbor boy knocked on the patio door. My six-year-old jumped up from the table to slide open the door. “Hi John, we’re eating lunch right now, and then I have a quiet time, but I can ask my mom if I can play after that.” I was thrilled that my son knew our daily “Quiet Time” was a non-negotiable part of a day at home.
I have required my sons to rest after lunch since they were born…. For several years it was a nap, but when they began to give up naps, I still needed them to rest so their siblings could nap, and so I could have a moment of peace and quiet.
Betsy talks about this habit in “Tips: Practical Ideas for Building Unity and Order in Our Children”. She recommends the following guidelines:
- When they’ve outgrown naps
- A precursor to quiet time
- No toys, may have music or book, but nothing is best
- It’s just time to meditate or think (and you get a small break)
- 30-45 minutes long (who knows, they might take a nap)
- I timed it so I could begin dinner and have the house calmed down for when David arrived home
I have taken the heart of this idea, and modified it slightly for our family. We have it right after lunch, because I want a quiet home in which to put my youngest down for a nap. Also, if the older ones fall asleep, I need them to do it early in the day rather than later! My kids are 3, 4 1/2, and 6 right now. Even though my boys share a bedroom, I have all three of them in different bedrooms for the rest time. I say, “It’s Quiet Time!” and the little feet run up the stairs. How did I get them to do this? I have made a deal that the first one up the stairs gets to pick the room they rest in. Being in my bed or the guest room is really exciting for them...hopefully that lasts a while! I make sure they’ve gone to the bathroom, make sure they have books, tuck them in, and set a timer for about 40 minutes. If they didn’t hear the timer go off, I open each bedroom to see who fell asleep, and tell the boys they can come back down to play. During the school year, we do school all morning, then have lunch, then quiet times. My boys know that after Quiet Time they can watch a show if we don’t have any additional school work to finish.
Was it difficult to initiate this practice? Since the transition from napping to no-napping can be hairy, I think having a Quiet Time helped. However, I have to be honest that there are those moments that the little ones want to escape from their rooms because it is “Just so looooonnngggg, Mom!” I did set the timer for shorter periods as I was first training each one to help with this. Also…. I put a childproof handle on one of the doors. If a child has a hard time staying in his room one day, he now knows he will be in the room with the handle the next day! Even so, there have been days in which the door is repeatedly kicked, and correction is needed. All disciplines take training. You may have a frustrating week setting the standard, but you will be blessed for YEARS after it has been established! Remember, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11)
This daily practice has been such a blessing to me. My boys are energetic and loud, and it brings me a little sanity to have them each in a room by themselves, focusing on books or their thoughts, so that I can organize mine! I usually start out the time finishing up a few housekeeping items (like responding to emails or making calls), and end it by having time with the Lord. What I like about this is that when my kids come down from their quiet times, they see me having mine too! I wish I was a morning person and could clock in a good quiet time before I have kiddos jump into my bed, but it’s just not me. Instead I try to play worship music in the mornings to start my day out inviting God in, but I need to wait to have focused time in the Word. Sometimes I need to get my focus back on God in the middle of the day, and having my quiet time then really helps me. During some of the tiring pregnancy months, I have even snuck in a quick nap. On weekends, my husband and I use the time to catch up on our to-dos, debrief on the church service, or just talk (sometimes it’s nice to do that when you aren’t tired from a whole day with the kids. :) ) Regardless of how you use the time your children are resting, we mamas need some free moments!
I also love the training this is providing for my little guys. In a world so inundated with constant communication, I am thankful they are learning to be still. In addition, I think this has helped instill a love of books in them.
One day my boys were being very good, and I wanted them to understand that a daily quiet time is part of a life in Christ, not just part of your childhood, so I let them read Bibles (all at their own levels) on the couch while I read mine. (Of course I told them this was a special circumstance, and it would not be the norm!)
Do you have a similar practice or routine in your home? If not, can you see it blessing your daily sanity?