One of the most popular questions I get: How do you find time to write with three little kids and homeschooling and…
When West was 4 yrs old he was done napping. But I had a 1 yr old who still napped and I had my sanity to keep. So I started training him how to have a quiet time. This was very tricky because he was the type of kid that was just born insecure and needy and did not entertain himself. He did not go off and play on his own during the day. But I knew his learning how to be alone and do something on his own was a valuable thing he needed to learn–and I needed it.
Each day after lunch after I put Will down for his nap, West and I would go in his bedroom and get him ready for quiet time. I would set out three activities (books, Legos, sticker activities, coloring books, etc) He could choose to do whichever activities whenever.
We started with 10 minutes. I set the oven timer and the rule was he had to stay in his room until the timer went off. If he came out for any reason less than injury, we started the timer over (he went to the bathroom and got a drink of water before the timer was set). At first he literally stood in his doorway just staring out, waiting for the timer to go off. It was sort of sad!
After a few weeks, I upped the time to 15 minutes. Less and less he hung out in the doorway, and more and more I would find him on the floor with his Legos or action figures. As time passed and he grew more comfortable with being alone and more engaged by himself, I added more time. When he turned 5, the quiet time was 45 minutes, after which he could watch a little show like Curious George until Will woke up. Through the years Quiet Time has evolved as his interests have changed and we’ve had to rearrange the house for new babies, etc.
This school year we’ve changed it again, now that West is in 2nd grade. He starts by reading to himself for 15 minutes (he sets that oven timer). Then for 90 minutes he does a quiet activity, which nowadays usually includes drawing with Art for Kids Hub, or creating 3D sculptures with random craft supplies, or building a marble maze. Recently we’ve been renting STEM activities from the library. After 90 minutes, at which time usually Will (who’s 3 and whose napping days are nearing an end–God help me!) is up, and they are allowed to have “tech time” for an hour (they play Mine Craft or Mario Kart usually).
And THAT is how I am able to read books, write stories, work on creative projects, and refresh everyday. Establishing a nap and quiet time is vital to my creative survival and overall health as a mom. And in turn it is so good for my kids. They learn to be alone and to be ok being alone. They learn to be quiet and at peace and to just be. They learn to use their creativity and imagination. And they learn that their mama has passions and pursuits that she invests in, and while she loves them dearly, they are not the entire center of her universe and thus not entitled to all of her time. It’s part of our lifestyle.