Quiet time is a fantastic way to keep your middle of the day parenting break even after naps are no longer biologically appropriate for your big kid. Most humans of all ages benefit from some rest time in the middle of the day, and it’s a great way to teach our children how to play quietly, independently, and to listen to their own bodies with the option to lean into sleep if they choose to.
Before getting too excited about Quiet time, read about the No Nap Transition to ensure that it’s truly time to quit the daily naps. Most children are ready for this transition between the ages of 3 and 5 years. Any earlier, and it’s likely a false alarm and still worth saving the nap.
If your child is truly no longer benefiting from day sleep, but you would still like to keep some child-free time to yourself during the day, or want to continue encouraging healthy rest habits for your child, read on about how to best implement Quiet time with your big kid.
Quiet time can really happen anywhere, but I recommend using their bedroom as a smooth transition from napping, a bed they can use if they choose to sleep, and an already designated safe space with minimal distractions.
Whatever space you choose to use, ensure that it is fully and completely safe for your child to be independent with easy to play toys, games, or books within reach.
Use an OK to Wake clock as an easy visual aid for your child to recognize when Quiet time is over. If your child struggles with independent play, you might set them up for success initially, by setting the clock for only 5-15 minutes of Quiet time. You can then gradually increase the amount of time until it is between 1-2 hours.
Explain in advance that while they no longer need to sleep during the day, they do need to allow their bodies time to rest, and Quiet time is how they are going to do it. Quiet time rules should be reviewed, and they might include staying in the room with the exception of using the potty for the duration of Quiet time and keeping their voices quiet or having their volume turned down for the duration of Quiet time.
Big kids always benefit from repetition and review, so review your Quiet time rules on a daily basis to make your family’s boundaries around this time of day very clear. This way they will know what to expect and you will be comfortable following through with the boundaries you’ve clearly laid out.
As always, consistency is the most important tool for successfully implementing new boundaries. It is especially helpful during the initial transition phase between nap time and Quiet time. Aim to be consistent with the when, where, and how of Quiet time in your family, and then progress to the 80:20 rule where Quiet time is consistently implemented at least 80% of the time, so when life gets a little messy and Quiet time is different or missed, it’s not a big deal and easy for your big kid to bounce back.
If your big kid is struggling with night sleep, I recommend reading about my top five tips for healthy sleep so your child does not become overtired by bedtime if they are no longer napping.
And if you'd ready to work one on one with me to improve your child's healthy sleep habits, get started by scheduling a free 15 minute discovery call.