Quiet Time (a work in progress)

Well, it’s been a minute hasn’t it. My kid turned four, we sent some thank you notes, and then we kind of went underground like the daffodil bulbs and we’re just now emerging. I’ve been wanting to write this post for a long time, but I wanted it to have a perfect bow on it.

Earlier this week I was sitting at my MOPS meeting and listening to the speaker of the day and I was introduced to the concept of the “Nobow” — it’s a gift, a story, or a life with “no bow” on it. There is no perfect ending to this story, but I wanted to share with you where our family is at with naps, and a few of the things we’ve found that work.

Right now, you might be pinned under a napping baby, or maybe you’re doing a big cook up in your kitchen and rocking out to Atomic Moms while your toddler is sacked out. Perhaps you have a stroller napper, or a swing napper, or a napper who only goes to sleep to the tunes of Motown and a heavy sway.  For a long time, you build your little world around naps. Everything revolves around naps, and in fact, friendships can make or break due to nap match-ups.

You can tell someone is not a parent if they just don’t understand the nap schedule. They will innocently send out an invite for a party at 2 pm when 97.2% of the under 4 population is napping. It’s amazing, they see days in long, stretching swaths. You see them in chunks. Before nap. After nap. Bam.

Some of you have already experienced the death. Some of you wear your black armbands like badges of courage. You’ve experienced true loss: the loss of the nap, but the advent of earlier bedtime, and the time in your evening that opens up to you like open road in Summer.

For those of you who are still approaching this stage, and want to make sure you’re ready, this post is for you.. Here are my totally Nobow unofficial quiet time tips.

  1. Be ready: Like a mic drop, it comes when you least expect it. You probably have a sense that it’s coming, but if your kid is still napping as they approach four, you better get ready quick. Have your plan. Map out what hours you are going to try to achieve “quiet time”, what spaces you are going to use in your house, and what your overall rules will be. Get your equipment in order.
  2. Equipment: Don’t go into battle without supplies. For us, the transition to quiet time has included three main items – an OK to wake clock – we have the Hatch rest, that I can program daily to turn green when quiet time is over, a CD player which can play quiet time CDs, and a door monkey for securing the door.
  3. Game plan:  Before Marilyn dropped her nap, I had thought about what I wanted quiet time to look like. I talked to moms about what works (shout out to Molly and her brilliant CD player idea with CDs from the library (we love the Magical Tree House series), and I had decided against the use of screen time. Screen time is for mama showers and mama meetings, but quiet time for us was going to be about quiet play, puzzles, creativity, and stories. Having a plan made me feel more prepared, and I was able to shop consignment for puzzles and some quiet time activities. Every kid is different but try to identify what your kid likes to do independently. I also chose things that she normally can’t play with if George is around (because he will destroy).
  4. Space plan: I had a hard time determining if Marilyn should be allowed to be anywhere in the house, or confined to her room. In the end, I decided that I needed some physical separation from her during quiet time, and that could only be achieved with a door. She can come out to use the potty, of course, and because #toddlers, she does pop out to ask for help or questions, but we go over the rules before quiet time and she understands that quiet time is for mama and her. I put George down to nap in a different room so that Marilyn can have full access to the toys in her room. When I am working my office, we do the reverse, and I’m behind the door and I let her have the run of the house. It helps that we have cameras downstairs so I can check in on her occasionally.
  5. Make it work: In the immortal words of Tim Gunn, make it work for you. Perhaps you want to use or approach quiet time differently. I struggled the most with accepting quiet time and not darkening the room , giving her the lovey, and hoping she would nap. Our quiet time is about 2 hours a day, and so far it’s working pretty well for us.

If you have any other tried and true strategies unique to your family for quiet time or this challenging transition, I would love to hear them. As your kid drops his nap, just remember, you may now get those few extra hours you were searching for at night, and those, I can say are pretty priceless.

Thanks for being patient with my pregant pause! More soon. xo