Okay, so let’s talk about Quiet Time! Over the past few months, my 3.5-year-old has finally dropped her nap. The day I have been dreading has finally come! She will still nap at the odd time, which is great, but most days she just isn’t tired enough to want or need to nap anymore.
It all started one random day when I put her down for her nap as usual, but about 15-20 minutes in I could still hear her chatting or singing to herself. Which honestly, I was fine with. I didn’t mind if she didn’t sleep as long as she was staying in her bed and still having a rest. Not to mention it was still giving me a break too!
But, that was short-lived. after about 3-4 days of her not sleeping, but staying in her bed, she got bored. She was now either yelling to me from her room or just coming back downstairs after 10-15 minutes max.
At this point in time, we were smack dab in the middle of our new pandemic life. AKA: I was working from home and our child care was temporarily closed due to the Pandemic. I knew that not having a solid hour in my day of child-free time was not an option.
So, that was when I looked into quiet time. I researched and read as much as I could, but like everything else, I really just went with what worked for us. Eventually, we got back into a nice routine that gives me about an hour break, and my toddler an hour of downtime to play quietly and relax.
If you are anything like me, you need that break in your day! That doesn’t make you a bad mom, that makes you human! These tiny little humans we created are absolutely exhausting!
So, that is why I wanted to put together a post all about our quiet time routine and how we implemented it into our day to day successfully.
The best part is, not only am I including some of my tips & tricks, but I was also lucky enough to have the help of Jessica Levangie who is a certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant and the Founder of Jessica Levangie Sleep Consulting.
Jessica was kind enough to provide me with lots of really amazing information, tips, and tricks for this post and I was so fortunate to have her input and expertise.
So let’s get to it!
IS IT TIME TO DROP THE NAP?
First of all, before we dive right into quiet time, let’s talk about nap time. Jessica was able to provide some insight into knowing when the time is right to drop nap time.
Jessica was able to fill me in on the 3 main signs that your toddler may be ready to drop their daytime nap:
- They are spending their naptime singing their favourite songs
- Chit chatting and/or babbling to themselves or their toys
- Showing no signs of sleeping: Not falling asleep before 45 mins, protesting,
getting out of their bed, leaving their room etc.
I laughed when I was reading her email because these were the EXACT 3 things that my toddler did, and exactly how I knew it was time. I tried so hard to hold onto our nap time, but in the end, I knew it was time to go!
So if you are nodding along to these 3 signs too, it may be time to take the dreaded plunge, and drop the nap!
But wait, not so fast!
Jessica did also mention that around the age of 2-2.5 toddlers are learning new developmental skills as well as experiencing a surge in language acquisition – this is an exciting time for them!
So, what does this mean for your toddler’s nap?
Well, here is the direct quote from Jessica about this specific situation:
When they get into their cribs or toddler beds they have a lot of free time to practice these new skills.
The good news is that a whole lot of talking could be on the horizon! The bad news is that naps may be disrupted for a few weeks until they have mastered their new skill. If this sounds like your toddler, my advice is to stay consistent, continue to offer their nap and in a couple of weeks you should see things go back to normal.
But Here’s the catch…
If three weeks have gone by and the singing and talking has now turned into protesting (getting out of their beds, leaving the room etc.) OR, if bedtime is starting to become a battle and your little one is taking a very long time to settle to sleep, it now may be time to consider dropping their nap. (It’s a scary thought, I know).
IMPLEMENTING QUIET TIME
I know losing the magical time of day that is nap time is a terrifying thought, but we are going to make it a little less scary. We’ve got your back, I promise!
I am going to provide a little insight into my own personal experience around implementing quiet time with a stubborn and strong-willed 3-year-old, but Jessica was also able to provide me with her professional advice around successfully implementing quiet time!
So, as I said, we have got your back!
It was great because what we did personally, aligns very well with the tips that Jessica provided. So before I jump into my own experience, I want to quote the strategies that were sent to me by Jessica. She said the following:
1. Set the expectation
– Create a set of rules around quiet time and explain to your toddler what is
expected of them. (Example rules: What they can do during quiet time, no
leaving the room until timer goes off etc.)
2. Set a timer
– We want to set your toddler up for success, so I recommend starting with
15 minutes, slowly working up to 45 minutes -1 hour depending on what
works best for your toddler. Once the timer goes off, praise them for
playing independently! (example: “You played in your room quietly with
your toys! You did a great job playing independently.)
3. Keep It fun
– Have an activity bin with items that are only used during quiet time. This keeps
quiet time exciting and something your toddler can look forward to each
day. (recommend rotating toys every week/2 weeks)
Give yourself some Grace…
Transitioning to a ‘Quiet Time’ can take work, especially, if your toddler doesn’t quite yet
enjoy independent play. With time and consistency, Quiet Time can become an
important part of your child’s routine. This time can allow your toddler to relax their
bodies enough to get through the day without becoming too overstimulated – which can
result in meltdowns.
I couldn’t agree more with everything Jessica said above. Again, I can only speak to my own personal experience, but it really lines up with what we did and what worked well for us.
So I want to dive into a little more detail and speak to what we did to set my toddler up for success with quiet time.
STEP ONE: Setting Our Expectations
The very first thing I did was have an open and honest conversation with my toddler. I explained that having breaks in our day is important. I talked about how she is a big girl now and doesn’t need to sleep in the day, but how both big girls and mommies & daddies need time in the day to rest and have a quiet break.
I explained that from now on she would not have to nap, but she would do Quiet Time instead. I then set my expectations for what quiet time meant and what she would be doing.
In our case, the expectations were this: She could play in her room or in her playroom (both are on our upper floor) She could play quietly with any of her toys or books. She could yell to me for help if needed, but she could not come downstairs until the quiet time was over.
We also set time expectations which I will talk more about in a moment.
I think it was important to set solid expectations, but not have too many to the point where my toddler felt overwhelmed. Sticking to your expectations and boundaries around Quiet time is key. I think that was what really set us up for success.
There were times she wanted to come down early, and I said no and redirected her attention to something else in her playroom. There were times when she wanted to play downstairs instead, and I said no. I knew that was a recipe for disaster, and it also didn’t give me a real break. I also knew that If I said yes one time, she would ask every time after that.
Stick to your expectations!
STEP 2: Setting a Time Frame
Also aligning with what Jessica said above, we used a set amount of time for quiet time. If you need a timer, we just use our “Nap / Play” feature on our Mella sleep clock. I set the clock red, choose a time frame (1 Hour), and set it. The clock will turn Green when quiet time is over. So easy and so effective! I knew it would work because we also use the clock for bedtime and to avoid early mornings and she was very receptive to the “wait for the green” strategy.
I know Jessica recommends the Mella Clock to her clients as well. You can find more information about the clock HERE. If you purchase the Mella clock directly through the website you can also use the code: jessicalevangiesleep for 10% off!
The catch with this step is that it is very unlikely that your toddler will just do 1 hour of quiet time from the very start. The attention span of a toddler is very small, so independent play can be tough, especially for longer stretches.
We started very slow and just worked our way up to an hour. We did our first 4-5 days at only 15 minutes. Then moved to 20 minutes, then 30, and so on.
It wasn’t always easy, and there were some tears and frustration along the way. But I stuck with my expectations and didn’t give in, and eventually, we got there.
Keep in mind my child was over the age of 3 when we did this. If you have a younger toddler, this may be an even harder transition for them. For a while, you may have to do 30-45 minutes max to set them up for success. As they get a bit older, and once you feel they are ready, you can start to do the full hour.
If your child really struggles with independent play, you can check out this post for some helpful tips & tricks: 5 Steps to Help Your Child Play More Independently
STEP 3: Setting Them Up For Success
I loved Jessica’s point above about making it fun. I loved her idea to have a special quiet time bin with special quiet time toys. I will definitely be using that tip in the future!
However, I wanted to add to that a bit. I think creating a space for them that sets them up for success is a very important factor in quiet time.
First and most importantly, the space should be 100% safe and child friendly. You don’t want to be worried about what they are into or having to poke your head in to check on them, potentially disrupting their play and focus. Make sure everything is within reach or easily accessible for them.
Also, be sure there is nothing that they will need to come out of their quiet-time space for. For example, make sure (if potty trained) that their potty is accessible along with some toilet paper. If My daughter needs help she knows she can yell to me. I also always put a cup of water in the room to prevent her from coming downstairs asking for a drink. Lastly, we have her regular video monitor in her bedroom as well as a little camera set up that connects to my iPhone in her playroom. I can always see her and check on her.
Of course, ultimately it is up to you on what boundaries you want to set. If you don’t mind your toddler coming out of their space to grab things or ask for things, that is totally up to you! I am just basing this on my own personal experience and what worked for us. But every family and child is different!
So there you have it! I hope you found some information here to help you with this transition. I hope you are able to implement quiet time into your day-to-day so that you get that break you very much deserve! My final tip is to just stick with it and be consistent! This is not an overnight change. It will take a few weeks before your child is consistently playing independently for a stretch of time. There will probably be some meltdowns and push back. Just remember this is new for your toddler too, and change is hard for everyone, especially those little humans!
Lastly, a special thank you to Jessica Levangie for providing her professional input for this post! Make sure you check out her website Jessica Levangie Sleep for more information on sleep and the services she offers! You can also find her on Instagram @jessicalevangiesleep.
Sending lots of good luck and positive quiet time vibes to you!
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