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August 5, 2022

On My Mind: Quiet Time & Independent Play

I recently asked some friends what some of my “mom things” are. You know, the topics and issues I’m a big fan of as a mom and love to talk about / share about / be intentional about working into our life.

Some were more obvious (my love for reading out loud with the boys, for example, or my preference for outdoor time over screen time), but one surprised me: my insistence on quiet time! 

My boys are 6, 4, and 1 as of posting this blog, and almost every day of their lives has included some kind of quiet time. For a while, we called it “nap time”, but my oldest stopped napping several years ago. But that hasn’t stopped our routine. “Room time”, “quiet time”, “rest time” — whatever you want to call it, for at least one hour, everyone has alone time in their rooms where they can do the following:

  • sleep,
  • play with legos,
  • read books,
  • make books,
  • color + crafts,
  • or really just about anything else under the sun that doesn’t involve my help!

That last part is key — and really the crux of why we Quiet Time (yep, it’s a verb).

You’ll notice I don’t actually really care if they are “resting” or not. Truly, it’s just a time to practice independence in a safe space while I rest or get some work done, too!

After all, Quiet Time sans-sleeping inherently leads to independent play, which grows so many useful skills (creativity, problem solving, and innovation, to name a few).

Being able to play independently is high up there in my book — and having an hour of required independent play built in has made that so much easier to pass on to the boys.

When I started thinking about this more, I realized there really are quite a few things I love about quiet time. Here they are:

  1. While it sometimes starts out rough, quiet time teaches independence and the ability to be in a room alone….which carries over outside of set quiet time boundaries. I love playing with my boys, don’t get me wrong, but MAN this skill of independent play is crucial to my sanity! And I start young with this: from the time my boys can sit up, they practice playing independently in their crib with a couple favorite books. We start out at one minute, and slowly build over time until I can grab a shower or make some lunch while they jabber away!
  2. Quiet time sometimes (often) means boredom. But that’s okay! I actually love when my people are bored. After all, boredom leads to curiosity *always*. Once you learn that there is always something to do or learn or see, there’s always something to do! And that’s a great perspective to have in life.
  3. Which leads us to problem solving and innovation. Who knew such a minor thing as quiet time could help with these so much?! My people know they aren’t supposed to come out of their room *at all* during quiet time (much to the dismay of my middle son, who still struggles with this concept regularly), so they have to use their sweet little brains in new and unique ways to solve problems and entertain themselves…which also builds their imagination and creativity. I am forever surprised at the random fun games and creations that have resulted from Quiet Time with absolutely zero help or suggestions from me!
  4. And tied for most important of all: Quiet Time reinforces their efficacy and gives me a break, too! Efficacy, or the ability and belief that your actions can produce a desired result, is a crucial skill that ranks high on my list to pass along. By giving them space from me to make decisions with their time, I’m building efficacy! Believing your actions matter, that the things you do lead to specific results and have consequences (both positive and negative) is something that affects every season of life. It’s wild to me that I can start equipping the boys with this skill through something as simple as quiet time and the resulting unsupervised play! Who knew?!

Anyway, this is just something that has been on my mind lately. Mostly because, while my oldest has been a fan since day one, my middle son is pushing back on this daily requirement, and I needed to up my why. So thankful we can do hard things. :)

And as a final note, here are some things that have helped practically as I’ve implemented rest time over the years:

  1. Have toys in their room that encourage creativity (legos, blocks, paper & crayons, etc). 
  2. Use this timer to help them have an idea of how much time is left (this helps to avoid the constant “Can I come downstairs yet, Mom?!?”). This has been a game changer!
  3. Set expectations and talk through options for entertainment if they need help (“During rest time today, you can play with legos, color, do a puzzle, or read. Which one do you want to do?).
  4. And, it never hurts to include a snack. :) My boys love taking popcorn up to their room! Also recommend a drink. Also recommend a dog to pick up popcorn from floor. ;) 

And that’s about it! One thing on my mind this week that has been helpful to flesh out and think through as I share with you. 

Happy Friday!

All images from our home session with Ivan & Louise earlier in the summer.

 

2

comments

  1. Rebekah says:

    Excellent! Happy to see the independent looking at books in the crib starting at six months or so (once sitting upright) while Mom gets a shower or takes a break carrying over to the next generation! I am convinced this benefits children in all the ways you describe so beautifully. I too, always recommend this when asked for Mom advice! Keep up the good, intentional parenting – your kids are awesome!! ❤️

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Sami Orndorff is a Wedding Photographer & Lifestyle Newborn Photographer located in the greater Indianapolis area.