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I know what you might be thinking: “Daytime quiet time for ME? Naps for ME? I don’t think that’s possible!”
As a mother of four children who has taken a nap just about every afternoon for the past fifteen years, I understand I am an anomaly. But because I’m a lot nicer person when I get the rest and down time I need, I’ve made quiet time a priority and figured out how to make it happen each day in our home.
And by the time you finish reading this, you will be equipped to have an extra hour of quiet time to yourself every day. You can sleep, read, work on a project, or just relax and watch something on TV. What you do with your time is up to you, but this post is going to show you how to get it.
As a disclaimer, I recognize that the ideas I’m going to share here won’t work perfectly for every situation. And that’s okay. Take what you like, ignore what doesn’t fit your lifestyle. The goal here is to help us invest a little more time in our physical and mental selves.
Are you ready? Let the quiet time training begin!
First, Some Encouragement to Sleep
I personally use my daily quiet time to take a solid 60-minute nap. It super-charges me for the rest of the day. My reasoning is spelled out below:
- Mothers need rest and “down time.” According to the experts, seven and a half to eight and a half hours is the ideal amount of sleep we should get in each 24-hour period. If we can clock those hours all at once, great! If not, naps are the solution. We are “on” 24/7, and although it would be nice if we didn’t need to refuel, that is not the case. Cars need gas, batteries need to be charged, and all human beings need sufficient rest. Yes, that includes us.
- Biologically, we were made to take an afternoon nap. If you don’t believe me, see this article. Some people really do not like to sleep during the day (my website Partner, Saren, never takes naps – she likes all her sleep in one chunk at night and her kids don’t need her in the night so that works great for her). But for those of us who like to nap and aren’t getting the sleep we need at night, naps are not only perfectly acceptable, they are very important! Many cultures encourage afternoon rests, but in the United States, it is sometimes seen as a weakness if a mother takes a nap. Let them call us weak. We can run ourselves into the ground and turn into the grumpiest of women, or we can rest when we are tired and reap the benefits of happiness and good health. I choose rest. Are you with me?
- Napping is a proven health benefit. A recent study found that women who napped at least three times per week for an average of 30 minutes had a 37 percent lower coronary mortality risk than those who took no naps. In English? We’re much less likely to die of heart problems if we become regular nappers. Another study by NASA showed that a nap of 26 minutes can boost performance by as much as 34 percent. It may seem as though we will fall behind if we take time to rest, but the statistics show (and I’ll confirm from experience) that we actually become more productive. Write these facts down and whip them out if a nap-critic gives you a sidelong glance!
- A mother loses about 350 hours of sleep at night over her baby’s first year. Does that number shock anyone else? Okay, so I have had four children. That makes 1400 hours of lost sleep—and that is just for one year of each of their lives! Add on the sleepless nights of pregnancy, months with teething babies, bouts of the stomach flu, bed-wetting, nightmares, and sleep-walkers, and it is quite amazing that mothers sleep at all. Taking naps is not stealing time away from our families. It is making up for all the hours we have sacrificed–and don’t you think it’s fair if we charge a little interest? Extra naps for everybody . . . on the house!
Here’s a Little More on My Quiet Time Philosophy
- Quiet time makes me happy. All right, it might sound silly, but that is why I nap or take time to read or do my own thing for an hour every afternoon. I feel happy when I am rested and when I’ve had a little break from the kids each day. I am also healthier, I am in a good mood most of the time, I don’t feel the need to yell, I feel romantic, I have energy for my husband, the world doesn’t seem like such a bad place, I enjoy my family, and I don’t feel overwhelmed. Take my naps away, and I am the exact opposite of the above. It’s not a pretty sight. Now, because quiet time does make me so happy . . .
- Quiet time is an appointment every day. This is just as important as a doctor appointment or a business meeting. It is often flexible, depending on my children’s needs and other activities for the day, but the only reason I cancel quiet time is if there is an emergency . . . or a fun day trip, but you get the picture. It is tempting to accept other commitments, but every time I do, I turn into a monster by dinnertime. When the choice presents itself, I think, “I need to rest this afternoon so I will be kind to my family tonight.” Generally, that’s enough motivation for me.
- Quiet time and guilt are not friends. I need to emphasize this point: WE MUST NOT FEEL GUILTY FOR TAKING TIME FOR OURSELVES. We need time that is just for us. Workers at factories and offices across the world have mandatory breaks in their work hours. Moms deserve no less. I was talking to my friend Erin the other day, and she reminded me that we, as mothers, devote our whole lives to our children. We cannot let ourselves feel guilty for one minute if we are taking an hour a day to become rejuvenated. Let’s release the guilt. Our time with our families will be more fulfilling when we are rested, and we will get more done overall (remember that study?). There is no reward at the end of the day for the mother who got by on the least amount of sleep or took the fewest breaks. Let’s tell ourselves right now, “We deserve rest. We can have some time each day that is just for us.” If you need to do so, write that down and tape it to your mirror so you can remember it each day.
Now Let’s Talk About Specifics
The rest of this post is going to spell out my best suggestions to make quiet time happen. (Please add your own in the Comments area below!)
(1) Simplify schedules. To make room for regular quiet times,, we may need to do less. We can cut down on some of our family’s extra-curricular activities, organize our shopping so we only go into a store a few times a month, and learn to say no to things that don’t really matter (or to things that can be accomplished during non-quiet time hours). These are suggestions we’ve been hearing for years. Now is the time to do—or stop doing—them. It takes confidence to slow down.
Some mothers genuinely have to work their fingers to the bone just to keep a roof over their family and food on the table, but many of us move like the Road Runner trying to do things that are really non-essential. At the heart of simplification are the questions, “Do I know how valuable I really am? Do I think I need to run around crazy because I am afraid that people will think poorly of me (or I will think poorly of myself) if I don’t achieve as much?” We must ask ourselves the hard questions–and start slashing our schedules. It might take a while to get used to all our extra time, but our bodies and brains (and our families) will thank us.
(2) Be there when we’re “on duty.” One of the reasons I don’t feel guilty about taking time for myself is because when I am on duty, I make the most of it. Because I get a regular quiet time, I like the companionship of my children during the rest of the day. When I am not rested and haven’t had time to myself, I want to be alone, and I feel annoyed by the constant chatter. Again, quiet time is the key here. It’s okay if we’re not perfect at this, but our goal is to make our time with our families a happy time.
Then after we’ve been dishing out all that love, we can smile and say, “All right, it’s time for everyone’s quiet time!”
When I say “be there,” I do not mean to suggest that we are required to entertain our children whenever we are with them. There is this idea floating around that “good” moms spend all day making crafts with their children, rolling ski-balls at Chuck E. Cheese, kicking a soccer ball at the park, and playing Candyland. Then when the children are asleep, it’s time for Mommy to do the housework. Sorry, but I just can’t keep up with that. I love to play with my children, and we do play often, but there is also a lot of work to be done. We do it together.
(3) Get the work done together. During our non-quiet time, we clean together as a family (even a one-year-old can help dust!), run errands, prepare food together, organize cupboards, wash the car, etc.
Children like to be involved and just want to be with us while we do what needs to be done. Playing with our children is great (individual dates and outings are wonderful), but we can also play while we work.
While we fold laundry, clean floors, etc., I tell my children stories about when they were little, turn on some fun music, laugh, listen, and enjoy their sweetness. That way, the housework gets done, the children are happy, and then when it’s time to rest, we all rest.
(4) Creatively work with our responsibilities. Mothers are jugglers. Even if we simplify like nobody’s business, life is going to sneak up on us and try to destroy all napping possibilities. We won’t let it get us down—we’ll just work with it. I have arranged carpools with neighbors so I can do the morning drop-off and avoid waking up a sleeping baby for an after-school pick-up. When my children were younger, I got help from a girl in our neighborhood who played with my little ones while I took a late rest. Often I can do something the night before that will free up my quiet time for the following day.
During a long road trip with the kids, we found a local library that had nice little reading nooks–the perfect size for me to lay down and have my nap!
Planning ahead is essential to me because I love the feeling of rest, and I detest the tired, frustrated version of me that emerges when I am short on sleep. She really isn’t welcome in our home.
If you work outside your home, you could try the following:
- Use your breaks for your naps or other activities that truly rejuvenate you. My dad is the king here. He learned in the army to take a 9 ½-minute nap on a 10-minute break. As an architect, he would sneak out to his car, recline the seat, and take little cat naps during the day. When I worked at a call center in college, I arranged to sit in a corner cubicle, where I could nap with my head on my desk (or under my desk if no one was around). In some jobs, it’s the norm for people to work right through lunch, eating a little lunch at their desks. DON’T fall into that trap. If you’re not a napper, that’s fine, but be sure to really take breaks. Go on a short walk. Read a chapter of a book. Do something that truly rejuvenates you during your break time every day.
- Find a sleeping spot to use for extended naps: Some corporations actually have “nap rooms,” but that is definitely not the norm. In high school, I convinced my drama teacher to let me keep a sleeping bag and pillow in the dressing area, and I would take a little nap in the theater every sixth period when no one was there. In college, I napped in quiet study areas for ten or twenty minutes at a time with my backpack as my pillow. Just remember to set the alarm on your watch or cell phone so you’ll wake up in time. Or, if you don’t have an alarm, sleep in a high-traffic area with a sign taped to your shirt that reads, “Please wake me up at 2:15.”
If we really want the rest and quiet time, we can come up with some ways to get it.
(5) Decide which hours are “mom” hours and which hours are “me” hours. If we simply let nature take its course, all hours are “mom” hours. We have to be realistic here, but each of us can set boundaries on our time and availability. My way of doing things might not work for your schedule, but it may spark some ideas.
Here’s a typical daily schedule:
- I am “on” from 7 am to 7 pm, with breaks from 9-10 and 1-3. This works about 75% of the time, and my family is nice enough to go along with it. If a child is sick, or if I am nursing a newborn, this becomes a very vague guide, but generally abiding by this schedule lets my sanity be my constant companion.
- My children wake up between 5:30 and 6:30, but they know I don’t start talking until 7:00. They color, watch cartoons, or play quietly until they know I’m ready to be mommy. Then I can happily say, “Good morning!” and we’re ready to go.
- When my children were younger, we got all the bedtime stories and evening activities by 7, and then I had time each night to think, spend time with my husband, take a bath, or get some work done on my projects. I know 7:00 is an early bedtime, but it works since my children were very young. An early bedtime helps them to be well-rested, and then I get the opportunity to feel like a human being. Now that my children are a little older, we get everything done and everyone’s in their rooms by 8. Sometimes we all stay up late together, and on occasion we have an evening activity that we will all attend, but for the most part, the Perrys shut down early . . . and I really like it that way. If my children are not tired by bedtime, they are more than welcome to read, listen to music, or play nicely in their rooms until “lights out.” (Lights out time varies by kids’ ages – 7:30 for little ones, 8:00 when they’re about 8, and a little later as they get older and have some homework to finish.)
- The daytime breaks, 9-10 and 1-3, are generally when my baby and/or toddelr would nap. All children who are home, however, take quiet times during these hours (or sleep, if they’d like). A quiet time means the child is in a room/area by his or herself. It’s not a punishment, it’s just time for the child to get to play or sleep. It’s so good for children to learn to entertain themselves and to have their own down-time or nap time! During the first quiet time, I do work such as phone calls, emails, bill-paying, etc. During the second quiet time, I sleep and work on projects if I have extra time after my nap. It’s lovely.
(6) Teach our children to love quiet time. This is probably the hardest part, but because I have been consistent with this, my children look forward to quiet time. They even put themselves into their rooms. Quiet times are non-negotiable, fixed activities. It is simply what we do. I’m going to include a few suggestions here that have helped me teach my children to observe this family ritual:
- Pick a “quiet time space” for each child. My newborns always joined me for nap time, but once my babies could play with toys and/or sleep on their own, we separated (otherwise I couldn’t sleep). If I had two children in one room, I moved one of them to a separate location (the office, family room, etc.). This space is theirs for the whole quiet time. They can obviously leave it to use the bathroom or come get me if they have a real problem, but if they start wandering around the house or wake me up for a non-emergency, then the rule is that they have to join me in sleep. (Once children reach the age of eight, they don’t need a “defined” space anymore . . ..) This is a fun memory of one of Spencer’s quiet times. (Can you tell I didn’t want to cut his golden curls?)
- Make sure the space is pleasant. During my first trimester with my last pregnancy (I had really hard pregnancies), our house kind of turned into a pit. No one wanted to have quiet time in their rooms because there was clutter everywhere, so as soon as I could stand up without gagging, we made some improvements. My children like to be in their rooms when they are clean, safe, well-lit, warm enough/cool enough, and stocked with interesting activities. This takes effort, but it’s worth it. This is where they get to use their imaginations—I want them to love their rooms!
- Prepare fun, age-appropriate activities. This is probably the most important part of quiet time. Obviously, if I want time to rest and think, my children need to have something to do. Over the years, we have collected several boxes of toys, organized and stored in sets, which provide hours of creative play. These boxes are kept up high, and before each quiet time, I ask my (younger) children which ones they want for that day. They’ll pick two or three activities that will keep them busy, and then they clean them up when quiet time is over. My oldest daughter would pick ten things when she was younger, and she would lay them out in the order that she wanted to play with them. Some of our favorites are pictured below:
Other favorites have been My Little Ponies, Magnetix, Legos, Magnetix, blocks, Polly Pockets, flannel storybooks, little dolls/dollhouses, car tracks, tinker toys, K’nex and craft materials (paper, crayons, markers, construction paper, glue, scissors, etc.). As my children get older, they like to read, color, write poems, work on homework, etc. It’s amazing to see their creations. (Yesterday my 12-year-old made rock people with googly eyes.) To check out more great ideas for toys and games that work well for quiet time, check out our Power of Moms Amazon Store.
And today my 10-year-old helped me make a video demonstrating our favorite baby toys:
(7) Anticipate snack and potty needs. My youngest child is now four, so this isn’t an issue anymore, but when they were younger, I always wanted to be sure that no one was going to have a messy diaper or need something to eat during our quiet time. We usually ate a good lunch together, and then I would get a fun snack ready that my children could look forward to once they had successfully completed their quiet time. It’s a great incentive: “I know this looks tasty. I bet you can have some if you let Mommy get a good rest!” Sometimes I also let them take a non-messy snack into their quiet time space—like a little bag of Cheerios or a stick of celery (we minimized the snacks, though, and certainly considered choking hazards). As far as the “potty” needs go, I quickly learned to check on my non-sleeping, diapered children about 20 minutes into the quiet time. They usually had a little surprise for me. Potty-trained children (under five) were simply encouraged to use the bathroom first so they didn’t need to open (or slam) doors when someone in the house was asleep.
(8) Use sound machines or white noise on your phone. Sound machines are my absolute favorites! We have one in every room–they are electronic white noise makers (costing about $15.00 each) that include a variety of sounds and an optional timer (which helps children understand how long quiet time is). There are lots of phone app with many choices of white noise that can also be a good solution.
My children can’t hear each other when they have sound machines going, so the sleeping ones can sleep, and the playing ones can play. I set the timer for an hour, and when the sound machine turns off, that means the child can clean up the toys and head out to the family room for a snack and part two of quiet time. My older children, who can tell time, don’t need them as much, but three- to five-year-olds love them!
(9) Use the TV and computer sparingly. We do have a television and computer, and I let my children watch certain shows or DVD’s and enjoy time on certain websites, but I don’t generally use the TV or computer during quiet time. I’ve found that screen time can make my children cranky, but imaginative play leaves them feeling refreshed. Sometimes I’ll say, “You get one hour of quiet time, and then you can watch a show.” That way, I can sleep for an hour and have time to do some reading, but my children are only watching 30 minutes of TV. Clearly, every family is different—do what works for you!
(10) Coordinate nap time schedules. Sometimes children will get on opposite schedules: a baby wants to nap at 12, a preschooler wants to nap at 2. That leaves Mommy awake all day. With a little work, I could usually get everyone to sleep at the same time. You might need to hold off a baby’s nap and endure a little while of “the crankies,” but that, to me, is better than giving up my own rest. I want my babies to have memories of a nice mom, and I can usually distract them to keep them up awhile longer. This is the main reason why we started the morning and afternoon quiet times. An hour of crib/play time seemed to take the edge off for my little ones who were only sleeping once a day. Then we were all ready to sleep in the afternoon.
(11) Train with love. It might take several weeks of quiet time training before your children will stay in their rooms and/or sleep when they need it. You may want to start with a 1/2 hour of quiet time and then work up to an hour or more after a week or so. One of my favorite parenting books, Parenting With Love and Logic, helped me to teach my children our family rules without having to get upset with them. What works for us is when I describe the consequences: “If you come out of your room before it’s time, I start the timer all over again.” Or, “If you choose not to nap, but then behave badly later this afternoon, you have a 6:30 bedtime.” I also try to offer choices. I ask my older children, “Do you want to take a nap with me today, or would you like a quiet time?” I never have to yell or spank or get mad, I just give them choices, explain the consequences, and then follow through. I have noticed that when I am able to calmly explain my expectations, I can rest more peacefully.
(13) Learn to relax. One of the hardest for mothers to do is shut down our minds. There are lots of great relaxation techniques available on the Internet (like starting from your toes, breathing deeply, relaxing each muscle, and working your way up). It’s a skill to fall asleep quickly. What helps me most, though, is having a plan for when I will get things done so I don’t have to stress about them while I rest. For example, if I have a business document that needs to be put together by the end of the week, I will schedule one quiet time hour and two evening hours that week to work on it, and then I will forget about it until it’s time. Having a detailed calendar is a lifesaver for me because otherwise I live in constant fear that I am forgetting something. Once you have made sure you have nothing pressing, tell yourself you deserve a break, and you are not going to ruin your nap time with worry. (Mind Organization for Moms was made for this.)
So when do you get everything else done?
There is a lot to do each day. Besides the basic housework, important relationships, employment needs, and desk work, we want to have time to exercise, read, and work on projects. Most women use quiet time to get these projects done, which is completely understandable. If your nighttime sleep is sufficient, then quiet time is the best time to do everything else. I have had to develop my own routine, as will every mother, but basically, here is what I do.
(1) As mentioned before, I use my morning quiet time for work that requires the most brain power. Then I work for the first 20 minutes of the afternoon quiet time, sleep for the next 60 minutes, and then wake up to work/check email for the final few minutes.
(2) After lunch, and before quiet time, there is usually about an hour where my children will play nicely nearby while I get stuff done. This is when I make phone calls and do more active tasks.
(3) If I have the energy, I wake up early—around 5:30 or 6, so I have an hour to exercise and/or prepare spiritually for my day.
(4) I get to work immediately at bedtime—as soon as everyone is happily in their rooms. Then I balance the rest of my evening with my husband’s schedule so we can be together as much as possible.
(5) I apply “de-junking” principles to my home and try to keep things streamlined and easily clean-able. There are tons of great books out there for that. Having routines for housework has been a life-saver. The whole family helps keep things looking nice so I don’t have a messy house hanging over my head while I sleep.
(6) I multi-task and involve my children as much as possible—we are busy during the days, and I try not to put too many things on my task lists, but when we’re all awake, we do group tasks, and when I am off duty, I do my own personal tasks. The point of all this is to enjoy the process, enjoy your family, and accomplish what needs to get done. It isn’t easy, but it’s possible.
I hope this article has been somewhat helpful to you. Everyone’s family and life is different, and we have to figure out what will work for us, but at least one principle is true—no matter who you are. You need rest. I know life gets tough sometimes. I have my rough moments just like everybody else, but when I make rest and rejuvenation a priority, I am a little more fearless, and a lot more pleasant to be around. I wish you the best in your quiet time!
QUESTION: How do you fit quiet time into your busy days?
CHALLENGE: Choose just one simple way to incorporate a little more quiet time into your schedule. You can either use it to nap, read, or just get something done you’ve been dying to accomplish.
As a special gift to our Power of Moms Community, we’re offering a FREE video from our “Mommy is a Person” Video Training. And guess what? It’s all about Quiet Time!
Click here to watch the video and find out more about Power of Moms Videos.
Laurie Brooks says
April, I think this article was an answer to many of my prayers. Lately I feel like it’s hard to get a handle on everything, and I REALLY think I need to rest more when the kids rest and implement more of these ideas to organize our days. THANK YOU for sharing the things that work for you
Shawna Woodworth says
Said this on 10-27-2008 At 11:00 pm
April, Your article comes at a good time for me too. I am impressed with how extensive your article was–covering not only the basics of napping, but every aspect of how you get all the other tasks out of the way. I really just wish I could come watch The Perrys, Live! in action and see how you manage all the daily tasks with your family in tow. Thank you for sharing the wisdom you’ve collected over the years. And how did I not know that you had already established your napping routines when we were freshman roommates? I had no idea…
Allyson Reynolds says
Long live nap time! My dad too is a religious napper and I nap for about 20 minutes when I put the baby down, but reading this article helps me see how much more I can monopolize on that time. Impressive! (When do you grocery shop, run errands, clothes shop, etc?)
I always almost nap with my daughter during her morning nap, which falls anywhere between 8-10am and lasts a couple of hours. But when she naps in the afternoon, I’m not sleepy and often find myself needing to clean the house or something.
I LOVE how honest you are. Sometimes it seems like we aren’t allowed to say that our kids constant chatter gets annoying or that we aren’t perfect mommies when we’re tired all the time.
I recently started a paper route with my husband and I’ve found that those early morning hours are awesome!! I always heard that but never found the ability to make it happen. I know it seems absurd but being up at 4:00am has made me feel so much better! I’m happy by the time the kids are up, my work is out of the way (other than phone calls 🙂 ) and I enjoy breakfast with my husband before his work.
Thanks again for an excellent post and for reminding us that we are people, too!!
Thank you, April!!! As a fellow napper, I applaud your facts and insights about the benefits of napping. Personally, I don’t know a single other mother who admits to a daily nap, and thus I usually feel substandard for doing so.
April Perry says
I’m so glad, Kristin! Mommy-Nappers of the world, unite!
Hannah Stevenson says
Thanks April! I loved the specifics you gave. My biggest challenge is having my twins in the same room and them never resting…just playing with each other. Why I never thought of designated spots is beyond me (maybe because I need a nap?)
I’m trying this tomorrow!
In two+ years I have only napped during his nap about 4 times. For a long time it was because he only napped for 20 min at a time…but for the past year it has been because I have so much to do and only nap time to do it in.
Wonderful article!! Thanks so much. I love to nap and usually can’t get through my day without one! I really appreciate your schedule suggestions. I stuggle so much to balance it all, that sometimes I don’t do anything! I just sit and stare and wonder where to start! I also love the idea of breaks and an on duty vs. off duty. I am a mother of 5 children who have adhd and let me tell you – I need breaks! I have a Musings of a Mother Blog. Stop by sometime if you would like. I usually just write small vignettes; things that would bring a smile to someones day. I am glad to have found your site.
Thank you for taking the time to write such an extensive how to article on napping! I love it! I have been a believer in nap time and quiet time for…always. My oldest is only 4 and my youngest is 10 months old. So I-NEED-NAPTIME! My baby still takes two naps during the day and I know I am so blessed that she does take such good naps. She sleeps from 10 to 12 and from 3 to 4 pretty much every day. But the problem is that my quiet time/nap time for my older two girls is not at the same time as my baby’s time, so I don’t usually get to nap because someone is up. I think I will try this week to shift nap times around of my baby so she is asleep at the same time as my two year old. My four year old is getting really good at having her quiet time in the office. She has a lot of quiet time only activities that she can get out on her own, and I love that. I want to be an every day napper just like you April! Thanks for the steps in how to make this a reality!!
Routine is so important for kids in genaerl; and starting as early as you can. Makes such a huge difference in how well your child responds to it. Although, at 30 months, we are experiencing A LOT of stalling which I hear is very common around this age. I’m sure your form will come in handy when baby #2 comes and my parents come to help out. Someone will need to put him down when the hubby goes back to work!
I took my first nap in a long time TODAY, before reading your article and it TOTALLY helped me be a nicer mom. It does sound like it might take a few weeks and some organizing, but I am for sure going to try making this work. Summer has already become “boring” and I think this is just what we all need to enjoy eachother more. Thank you Thank you!!
Thank you for this article, including all the details of how to make it happen. A friend taught me about “Quiet Time” when my oldest stopped napping. I was going nuts and just needed a break from her so I could enjoy her again. I’ve felt guilty taking a nap during that time unless I’m really really tired, because I wake up groggy and it’s hard for me to jump back into the day. In college 20 min naps in the library would really rejuvenate me. Did you/do you ever have to fight the grogginess of a mid-day nap? How do you overcome it?
April Perry says
Danielle, I’ve been thinking about this grogginess question for the past few days, and I don’t know if I have a great answer because I typically wake up pretty happy. However, the other day, I fell asleep around 8:00pm and woke up at 11 (we were camping . . . and it’s kind of a long story), but I was a MESS when I woke up. I had a headache and kept crying to my husband. It wasn’t a pretty sight. I realized that I had been overly-tired, and so the long nap threw me for a loop. (I know, it’s not really a nap when it’s that late, but I hadn’t had one earlier in the day.) The best thing I could suggest would to be to play around with the length of time you sleep. Set a nice, soothing alarm on your phone, if you have one, and see if the shorter naps work better than longer naps, etc. Also, I find if I can get 7 hours of sleep at night and then 1 hour during the day, that works perfectly for my body. Five or six hours at night isn’t enough for me. It’s a lot of trial and error–and flexibility. And waking up before the children come into your room is nice, too. I give myself about 5 minutes to just rest on the bed, wake up, think, plan out the rest of the day, etc. Good luck! Please let us know if you discover any good strategies!
Heather | Mom 4 Life says
Your article was really helpful for me. It challenged my current routine and I am glad, thank you for taking the time to outline so clearly all the details, I am going to give this a try!
Jennifer G says
I LOVE this. My son will be starting pre-k in the Fall and they nap during the day (a full school day, he will go in at 8 and not get out until 330). My son has not napped at home since before he was 3. Rarely he will fall asleep in the car if we are out and about during the day, but it is very rarely. I need to establish a rest period during the day to get him accustomed to being quiet and settled and not disruptive so that he is not shocked on his first day of school when his teacher announces nap time. These are some great tips to get me started on his training.
Alisha Gale says
I have no problem confessing to being a napper! And my kids’ early bedtimes are what keeps me sane. All kids are in their beds by 7:30 pm. And no one is out of their beds until my husband or I get them up. (Funny thing, the wake up ritual isn’t actually a rule. For some reason, our kids just won’t get out of bed (except for the bathroom) until my husband and I open their doors in the morning. It’s actually a little bizarre.)
We’ve never lived in a house big enough to give each child their own space, and the one time I tried “quiet time” for one of my children (my first) she ripped to shreds every book I had given her. Yikes! So I gave up on that! But I have a plan that works well for me: I nap best if I can hear my children. If they were all quiet, I wouldn’t be able to sleep because I’d be thinking, “WHY ARE THEY SO QUIET? WHAT ARE THEY UP TO!?”
So, when I have the chance, I let my children know that I’m going to take a rest so they need to be not-quite-so-loud, and I plop down on the couch. Most days I have to remind them to keep it down, but I still get 20-30 minutes at a stretch.
I also get my work done in the morning, while they are getting their work done (instrument practice, summer school, chores, etc.) If I just let them know that I’m working and when I’ll be done, they’re good about letting me finish. Flexibility is the key for us.
April Perry says
Alisha, I love that morning wake-up ritual. I have never heard of any children waiting in bed like that before! That’s wonderful! And I’ve had books ripped before, too. We started just doing board books . . .. Resting on a couch is a great option. That’s been my “fall-back” on days that are really busy. Thanks for sharing your methods here! You are so good at balancing your family and all the other work you do.
Great article – I love the honest, realistic approach and pics of your lovely happy kids! I also have 4 kids – but never have naps (even when family/husband tell me to) as it makes me really groggy for the rest of the day. But, I salute an article pointing out the benefits of time to yourself for 30 min or an hour when the kids are a little older (mine are fat too young at the moment!) as wel as the reality that boring work (house cleaning) needs to be done, as well as play and craft making!
I took a nap today thanks to this article! My afternoon was so enjoyable thanks to the extra sleep! Thanks for explaining how you fit everything in. I love your MOMs program too. Your site has been a huge help to me as a mom. Thanks for your positive and honest articles 🙂
I loooovvee this article! I’m so glad there are others out there who are willing to admit they need to nap!! Sometimes I feel so guilty sneaking in a 20 minute nap, but I totally agree that a happy, rested mommy is way better than my usual-walking around like a zombie all day, longing for some rest, and agitated at the world because I can’t have any. I honestly get so envious when I tuck my daughter in for her afternoon nap.
Thank you for being so detailed about the whats and hows, as well. I have a 2 1/2 year old, and I’m going to try to start implementing quiet/nap time next week!
April Perry says
So glad, Sara! I’m excited for you. I’m also zombie-like when I don’t get rest, and for years I had health problems that required me to rest as much as possible. So all these little tips and tricks were developed out of necessity. Even though I’m healthy now and could get by without a rest, I’ve realized the habit is so rejuvenating to me. Good luck with your quiet times!
Thank you so much for this article. My three kids have always had an early bedtime (7:00). And when they get ready to give up naps, I transition them to quiet time. I have to have the break in my day. Either to read, sleep or just have quiet for a little while. It makes our afternoons and evenings much happier!
Loved this article – just what I needed today. I was just complaining to my husband that, especially now that it is summer, I don’t have any down time because one of my four kids always needs something and there is always too much to do. One question – my two year old is really starting to resist her afternoon nap, but I still need her to have a quiet time, how do I encourage/train her to stay in her room and play quietly?
April Perry says
Two-year-olds are probably the trickiest, Lindsey. The best way I know is to start slowly and then work your way up. Perhaps you could even start with 10 minutes and then move up to an hour. I would just sit outside her door and escort her back in if she comes out. I always told my son he had a choice–either a nap or a quiet time. If he kept coming out of his room, I would lie down next to him and hold him near me until he fell asleep. (He usually didn’t like that very much, but I was really kind and gentle about it–just very firm. There were only two options: play nicely in his room or take a nap.) Good luck! I’d love to hear how it goes!
Love the article and the idea but I am having a terrible time as of late getting my 2 1/2 year old to stay in her room during nap/quiet time. I moved her baby brother to a different room but that does not seem to be helping (other than helping him sleep). I am slowly losing my mind because I need mommy time! Any advice?
Thanks for a great article, its such a good idea ! I had never even considered having a nap while my daughter (2.5yo) quietly plays. I think for me my biggest concern is safety – the house is on one level so she could easily get in to the kitchen, or outside even. Maybe I need to do more baby proofing. I am curious, how much baby/toddler proofing do you have in your house or do you just ‘trust’ that your kids will stay safe during the nap? Thanks for any insights!
Jamie H says
I finally just got my son to be quiet and leave me alone for a full hour!! The key for him was he gets the whole house (except my room and the baby’s room). I think he didn’t like feeling ‘trapped’ in his room. Also he chooses the toys he wants. Usually he chooses puzzles and a game to play (even by himself – since he is only 4). Our rule is that if he comes in my room or wakes me up for anything other than an emergency . . . no TV time afterward. Since this is the only time in the day he gets to watch TV, it is motivating enough. We had to practice when he had something to show me or have me help him with, we practiced him setting it by my bedroom door and waiting. Also he is learning to tell time. Every day I show him what the clock will look like in an hour (when quiet time is over). He is finally understanding how the clock works and that he CAN wait for it. I love the ideas you shared too!
Heather Perry says
This is an awesome article and something that id love to implement in my life with my 7 month old but we fail at any kind of schedule! I hope it gets more defined sooner than later so i can get my sanity back! (btw I giggled when you said the perrys!)
Oh and thanks for sayin that mothers shouldn’t feel guilty if they’re tired!
I absolutely love this post! Thanks for sharing, and for doing so in so much detail – I love how practical your advice is! I’m a mum that has previously (up until recently) even felt guilty about sitting and having a cup of coffee by myself. I recently realised I was burning out, getting resentful and not enjoying family life so I knew something had to change! I’m on a journey to look after myself better and I now know that will help me look after my family better too. Posts like this are the fantastic encouragement that mums like me need! Thank you!
Fantastic article. Thank you for sharing.
Melissa Glenn says
Thank you so much for this article, April! I believe in this too and hold on fiercely to nap time as my break, except….and here’s where I would love your advice….
My 17 month old is starting to drop his only nap (awful, right). I would love your advice on this: I would love two hours of quiet time like I get the days he naps, but I feel like it’s too long for that age when I can’t explain what quiet time is. So I usually just leave him in his crib for an hour without toys-I’m afraid they’ll get in the way of him sleeping.
What would you do at that age?
April Perry says
That’s tricky! My children typically napped until they were three, but if they didn’t settle down after 45 minutes or so and really weren’t tired, I would then introduce the toys, a sippy cup of milk, etc. for the next hour and say, “Okay, now that you rested for awhile, you can play toys in your crib.” It’s kind of an “art.” Sometimes at that age, I would need to read books to/rest with my child until he/she fell asleep, and then I could sneak out. But once they outgrew their naps, I would just do whatever I could to help them get the quiet time/rest they needed. Two hours might be a bit ambitious for that age, but if you have a variety of toys in the crib (little separate boxes with age-appropriate items), and if you play music or something else at the same time, you might be able to provide a little more quiet time for both of you. Good luck! I’d love to hear what works for you.
Melissa Glenn says
Thanks for your quick and awesome response! I will definitely try your ideas and let you know.
Thank you, April! I’ve done quiet time since my son was little (5 yrs. now) and have felt guilty and sometimes resentful even of other families who “seem” to be always on the go. But I’ve found that that lifestyle comes at the price of very cranky parents and kids and even illness. I will read your article whenever I need a reminder that setting my boundaries is OK and necessary!
Linda Z. says
I love to nap! and now that my kids are 15&20, I even put myself to bed before everyone if I need to. I’m the first one up in the mornings and I watch 2 little boys 9-5 so if I feel I need one, even after they leave, I take one! I get a ton more done, faster and with less caffeine. (try not to drink it for health reasons)
Rachel Nielson says
I didn’t read all of the comments above, but I had to add that this is my favorite parenting product on the market: http://www.amazon.com/Onaroo-Childrens-Alarm-Clock-Nightlight/dp/B00EAHSBV4
It is a clock that turns green at specified times that you can set. I set it for 7:00 a.m., and I set it for a two-hour nap time mid-day. I started using this with my son when he was almost two-years old, so he would know when it was okay to come out of his room in the morning and after nap time. This guarantees breaks for me, and it gives me son something “concrete” to measure time with. It took training at first–I would just have to take him back to his room and point at the clock and say, “The light’s not green yet.” Or if it was green, I would make a big deal and say, “Yay! The light is green! Time to come out!” My son is very strong willed, so I am convinced that if this can work for my son, it can work for pretty much any kid with some consistent training. Now that he is three and no longer naps, I still get a two-hour break every day because he just plays in his room until the light turns green. It’s incredible. It works because we started doing it when he was young. I cannot recommend this clock enough. My son loves it as much as I do.
Thanks for this amazing post, April!! Mommys need quiet time!! You are so brilliant!
Melody Harrison Bergman says
BRILLIANT (and very entertaining) article, April! I love the way you write. You are amazing! ~Melody
I really love this. I am a full-time nanny and although I pride myself on creating new and interesting crafts, I always end up having to be on all-time assistance with no longer than 10 minute breaks. I find myself looking for new ways to keep the kids busy so I can have at least an hour to myself, but have never considered the possibility of creating a non-negotiable quiet time hour! Kids are capable of keeping themselves busy!
Thank you for not making me feel like a lousy nanny when I need my quiet time. Everything in this article validates my need to take a break :).
This is the best thing i have ever read! I finally don’t feel alone in need for a daily nap. I have always felt so guility with my need to nap/have an hour alone time everyday. Thanks for the great tips. I am about to have baby #3 soon and need this more than ever, especially with my 3 year old slowly giving up her nap. Thanks again…
This is the best post on quiet time that I’ve ever read. It made a huge difference for me. I’ve been using these techniques for months now. Thanks.
We have had quiet time for years…I am not certain where I read about it…your post has encouraged me to nap with the kids…and add a few quiet activities in easily stored containers! Thank you!
I so appreciated hearing that you had/have a 7pm bedtime for your kids! Tons of people thought I was insane putting my kids to bed at 7pm, and now that they’re 7 people think 8:00 (only if we can’t get through the evening routine earlier) is crazy. Reading your article almost felt like I was writing it – if I could write so eloquently 🙂 sooo mirrored my thoughts, particularly my state-of-being by 5pm without some downtime – no one wants that mommy around! Thank you, April, for sharing so openly. Sometimes we really do need to hear that we’re not alone in the craziness of motherhood!
Yay for 7:00 bedtimes! Those were lovely days. 🙂 Everyone got enough sleep, and I had plenty of quiet time. Things have changed a bit now that I have teenagers who need to stay up to do homework/sports practices, etc., but we still generally shut down about 8:30 or 9, and we’re in good quiet time habits. Wishing you and your family the best! So glad to have a kindred spirit out there!
Great article April. Do you follow this on weekends too? Are your older kids normally at school during quiet time? Just getting some ideas, thanks!
April Perry says
Hi Lori! When our children were younger, we did follow this on weekends. It actually enabled me and my husband to have quite a bit of time together! Now that the children are older, we do a whole-house quiet time after school for an hour, but no one else has to sleep (but me!). Excited for you!
I am trying to incorporate quiet time as my 2 year old won’t nap but he keeps coming out of his room and if I shut the door he screams! I would love advice?? Please.
I have always been a napper for as long as I can remember. In high school I would nap nearly everyday after school and in college I slept in my car between classes… but when I became a mom I felt this pressure to NOT nap so I could get things done. But, I am the most sleep deprived I have ever been in my life…stressed out, overwhelmed, and so, so tired! This article was what I needed. I shouldn’t be ashamed of needing to nap–in the end I know I will get more done if I nap when I need to. It’s so silly that I felt like motherhood should be the end of my napping days. It doesn’t make sense–now is when I need it the most!
April Perry says
SO excited you’ve discovered this, Katie! Seriously…watch how happy you’ll be when you get more rest. Your family will feel it, too. (Looking forward to hearing how things go for you!)
I love this post! I cannot remember who introduced the idea of afternoon quiet time to me-it was probably MY mom-? but it’s something I started when my four kids (18-8) were little. I am definitely a mom who is much nicer when I’ve had my own time to myself. I homeschool so we are together all the time which is awesome, but we are together ALL the time which isn’t ALWAYS awesome.
One thing I really picked up from your article (among the many great ideas) was the nonscreens policy of quiet time. Typically I let them watch a movie during quiet time…but I have noticed that screens tend to make at least a couple of them cranky. And I’m glad you mentioned that because I thought I was crazy for thinking that was the cause. I’m going to try the no screens the first hour idea starting today!
Thanks for all the good tips and encouragement! By the way, I do use the organization process that you promote-took the webinar and all-it’s a life saver for me! I totally get the whole “crazy freaked out that I’m going to forget something” thing. I’m going to start scheduling work time and “be present” time!
April Perry says
LOVED hearing from you, Jennifer! It makes me so happy to think of other moms out there sleeping more and living an organized life. 🙂 Have you tried the no-screens during quiet time yet? I’d love to hear how it goes!
Lisa Wood says
Thank you. I always need a play by play to be able to figure out how to change routines and habits and this was perfect. I am adjusting my Routines & Responsibilities to include morning and afternoon quiet times! Since I have the store downstairs to run from 8 am – 5 pm during the off season and 7 am – 8 pm during the peak season, I won’t necessarily get a nap very often 🙁 BUT if I can accomplish having my kids play peacefully and quietly while I close my eyes on the couch for a few minutes between customers, I will consider that a success! Thank you!
Owner/Operator, Mountain Home Inn & Store
Wife of the busy Credit Union CEO
Mother of 5 (1 yr old to 10 yrs old)
I love this! I have been napping religiously since college – I took mini naps in the car during my lunch breaks when I worked full time. I mentioned that I nap every day in a group of women recently and since have felt slightly embarrassed for admitting it publicly. Oh well. Whether you sleep or not, I think daily quiet personal time is important for everyone’s emotional/mental health. I’m always happy to have my kids get that kind of personal break every day in the summer.
April Perry says
Go fellow napper!!! (It’s funny because when I typed “napper,” it autocorrected with “baller.”) ?
You are so right—we all need some kind of rest and replenishment. Good for you for making it happen!!