This last year, this work from home mama said goodbye to 2+ hours a day of prime work time, when my almost 4-year old decided she didn’t need to take regular naps anymore. I had been dreading it for months, as I watched my well-rested looking mom friends go from fine to frazzled when their kids dropped their final naps. I knew that my 3.5 year old wasn’t the norm in taking naps 7 days a week, but I hoped she would continue to buck the system and nap until she was at least 10 (Kidding. Sort of). “Don’t worry” they all said. “Just have her do quiet time, it’s practically the same thing.” They said. Well guess what? It’s SO not the same thing and I’ll be honest and say this whole “quiet time” thing has been really hard. So instead of giving you well-meaning advice on transition from nap to quiet time, I’m going to tell you how it really is.
1. Kids Don’t Like To Be Alone
In case you hadn’t noticed, even a quick trip alone to the bathroom sends your child running to be by your side. It’s not that they don’t want you pee in solace- it’s just that the don’t like to be alone. Sure, they may tend to like the occasional solitude when they’re up to no good. But to be alone on purpose? Get ready for some push back my friends, because quiet time is all about being alone and for a long time. In an effort to avoid the loneliness, your child will start to resort to any means necessary to connect with you: having to go poop every day, right in the middle of quiet time. Maybe they are insanely thirsty, hungry or they just can’t stand the way their sock feels on their foot. It doesn’t matter and it’s usually the most sanity-sabotaging reason that will have you wondering, “why am I even bothering with quiet time?”
2. Quiet Time Is Never As Long As Nap Time
Gone are your 2 hour chunks of time, mamas. When they said that “quiet time is the same as nap time” they were lying to you. They just wanted you to feel less stressed about the impending doom that is quiet time. My normally independent 4-year old who can play on her own when I need her to get dressed for school, suddenly can’t go more than 10 minutes without asking if quiet time is over. I had dreams that I’d just give her activities to do for 2 hours and she’d be fine. Yeah right. Naps were 2 hours, quiet time is an hour and 15 minutes max. Get used to it!
3. Quiet Time Activities Work For 10 Minutes (Max)
When this whole quiet time thing started, I thought “I’ll just make her some quiet time boxes and she’ll play happily with them for the whole time.” Yeah right. Even the most well-intentioned quiet time activities lose their luster and usually within the first 15 minutes. Keeping special toys for quiet time is still a good idea, but don’t go thinking they are exciting enough to entertain for over an hour. Before we even begin quiet time, I have my daughter gather a bunch of things she wants to play with and they are usually her favorite toys. Some days they keep her playing, other days she’s opening the door every few minutes to see if I’m still working across the hall.
4. They Are Really Good Days And Really Bad Days
This last week, quiet time was both a dream and almost the death of me. I could hardly believe the girl who skipped to her room to spend an hour of solitude one day was the same one who cried into her comforter about how long quiet time was the next. I cheerfully typed away one day, while my heart was breaking the next as I listened to her sob in the next room. The bad days are almost enough to want to throw in the towel all together. The good days keep you going, but the bad days threaten to break you.
5. It’s Worth It To Keep Going
As frustrating as it is to keep repeating the words “close your door, it’s quiet time,” it’s totally worth it in the end. Even though my all-knowing 4 year old doesn’t think she needs quiet time, she does. And so do I. I work from home, and as much as I love her, I need a break. She needs a break from me too. She’s an only child and probably always will be. She needs to be able to play independently, enjoy the quiet parts of life and be able to be away from me, emotionally. As a mom, I need a break from the constant needs and wants that come with a young child. I also need to be able to work so I can help provide for my family. Yes, she’s still young. But she’s old enough to start understanding that mommy and daddy work, and I hope she sees a healthy work ethic. Quiet times aren’t just for weaning kids from naps- they can be observed for years and we plan on doing that in our home. Despite the difficult days, I’m so glad I’m laying the groundwork now, when she’s young. Maybe it will make the pre-teen years all the more easier. Or is that just wishful thinking?