Quiet Time Tuesday #1 ~ Quiet Time Activities for When Your Child Stops Napping

Do you have a child who has started skipping their daily nap? Are you dreading giving up your daily window of down time?

Napless afternoons have been happening off and on in our home for the past several months. Our oldest is almost 5 1/2 and only naps 3 or 4 days out of the week. (I know I should be very thankful since I’ve heard of so many children refusing to nap from their toddler years on.) Even when our oldest does fall asleep, she’s normally up by the time our two year old gives in to her tired eyelids.

That means I typically don’t have any child free time all day long. Many of my days at home are very long as the first child crawls into bed with me before Tim leaves for work at 4:30 AM and at least a few nights each week Tim works until the kids’ 7 PM bedtime.

So how do I manage a little quiet time at least most days?

Quiet Time Bins!

Quiet Time Bins: What We Did When Our Daughter Stopped Napping

What are Quiet Time Bins?

Bins, boxes, buckets, baskets…any type of container that allows you to store several interesting and independent activities for your child. Ours are similar to these Sterlite Large Clip Boxes.

How many?

Our family cycles through 4 Quiet Time Bins, I’d love to get one more, but 4 is what we had on hand. You want the activities to be switched up so the child isn’t bored easily so having only one quiet time bin would mean that you’d have to take time each day to refresh the materials–not something I’d recommend when you want to be getting more time not spending more time.

You could also use 7 bins marked with the days of the week or 5 bins marked Monday through Friday and let your child choose which bins they use on the weekend.

What to put inside?

Any small toys, educational activities, books, etc. that you think your child will enjoy and that they can play with independently. Be sure not to put their absolute favorite toys (ones that they play with everyday) in there. We’ll share some of our favorite Quiet Time Activities below, but many of the Busy Bags that we’re sharing this month would also be great inside of a Quiet Time Bin.

How do you use Quiet Time Bins?

We introduced each of the Quiet Time Bins over four days. During the first tow days I sat with our 5-year-old daughter and showed her how to play with each activity, giving her lots of ideas of how she could play with the different toys. For the last two days I worked nearby while she played with her Quiet Time Bin. If she got distracted I just helped guide her back to an activity.

Now, she plays with her Quite Time Bin fairly quietly (which is a lot for our very talkative little girl).

Recently, our 4-year-old son has started napping inconsistently so we simply added another activity or two to each bin to reduce the sharing issues, though you could also make up a separate set of Quiet Time Bins for each child.

Some of our favorite Quiet Time Activities:

Puzzles ~ we reserve some from everyday use by placing them in the Quiet Time Bins

Activity Books ~ our kids really enjoy dry erase books and workbooks, as well as magnetic books, and this cool Glow and Learn book.

Lace Up Dolls ~ we purchased these wooden dolls at the Dollar Tree last year and our little girl loves them (I  even bought a few backup sets since they were only a dollar each.)

Wooden lace up dolls from Dollar Tree

Magnetic Paper Dolls ~ we’ve printed a free set of girls and a free set of boys onto magnetic paper and store them in small metal tins

Play-dough ~ since the baby is pulling up on everything now, play-dough has been reserved for her naptime which usually coincides with Quiet Time. We add miniature figurines for even more fun. Jonathan just got a set of Space and In the Sky figurines that have been a big hit.

Writing materials ~ our daughter, Emahry, is very much into writing so we include one writing set in each bin. Special paper, mini notebooks, gel pins and fancy pencils make this extra special. You could also add a list of family names, sight words, etc. for more learning.

writing practice

Marbles & Pom-Poms ~ another addition due to the fact that they can’t play with them when the baby is up and crawling around on the floor. We include ice cream scoops, tongs, ice cube trays, bowls and spoons…anything that makes scooping and pouring fun.

Books & Magazines ~ we rotate through our books, so usually I include a couple of books that they haven’t seen recently. We also really enjoy these National Geographic Little Kids magazines (I just wish they came every month). You could also include library books and switch them out weekly.

National Geographic Little Kids Magazine

Simple Crafts ~ bead stringing, stickers, collage materials, etc.

beading with straws

Flashcards & Learning Tools ~ add foam or magnet letters or numbers for matching fun.

flashcard activities

What activities do you think your child would enjoy?

Be sure to read All Our Days throughout  October for more great Busy Bags & Quiet Time Activities. Stop by next Tuesday for another Quiet Time Tuesday post.

31 Days of Busy Bags & Quiet Time Activities @ AllOurDays.com

Previous in Series: 3 Ways to Store Busy Bags

Next in Series: Duplo Blocks Counting & Tower Matching Busy Bag

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  1. says

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    • Allyson says

      A busy bin would be a great way to get work done while your daughter is home with you. Sometimes I use our quiet time bins when I have something I need to work on without interruptions–it works beautifully!

  4. Shannon says

    I love this, I’m always looking for things for my 4 year old to do quietly while his little brother sleeps that isn’t watching tv!! Thank you!! I know it will be so exciting for him to pull out a box and find out what it is that day :)

  5. says

    This is totally random but… did you laminate the magazines? They look extra shiny in that pic 😉 I only ask b/c my girls love that magazine too, but theirs get SO torn up!

    If you did… HOW?

    Kory recently posted..Our garden – 2012My Profile

    • Allyson says

      I did laminate the magazines :). I just removed the staples and had the pages laminated. I cut the pages out, put them back in the correct order and re-stapled them. For these particular magazines I laminated the entire magazine. I sometimes only laminate certain pages to keep. Then I just use my home laminator (I have this laminator which I LOVE) or you could use page protectors, too.

      • says

        Such a great idea, thank you for the response! I will definitely be keeping that in mind when our next issue comes!
        Kory recently posted..Our garden – 2012My Profile

  6. says

    Love our quiet time boxes! I sometimes put the Happy Meal toys we get into them — they’re fun little toys to play with for short periods of time. My daughter loves craft items in her box — pipe cleaners and beads to string. My son loves books with flaps to flip and hidden pictures to find. I try to change the boxes every once in a while to keep things fresh.
    OneMommy recently posted..Leaf ActivitiesMy Profile

  7. says

    Those lace-up dolls are just darling {it brought the thought to my mind that my next child BETTER be a girl!!!}.
    Our fav independent toys are a color-wonder marker set (my oldest is 3, and not good at staying totally on the page yet), small toys like trains and cars and a 9 piece puzzle. He’s still working on that whole independent thing. The introduction of his little brother has meant a step back, and he’s become a little more needy…but sometimes that’s OK, because this Mama likes the extra hugs and kisses :)
    Ali recently posted..Easy Pantry Chili {Slow cooker & Freezer Meal}My Profile

  8. says

    I am one of the co-hosts of the Weekly Kid’s Co-op. I will be featuring this post in my TOP 3 on tomorrow’s link-up. We do something very similar during the summer months when we are not homeschooling. Love it!
    Jamie recently posted..Historical Rendezvous: Fur Trade EncampmentMy Profile

  9. says

    We love quite time boxes/bags! They are so great when the kids need just a little something between activities or while I am working with one of the other kids =-)

    Thanks for linking up to TGIF! Have a great week and I look forward to seeing you linked up again on Friday,
    Beth =-)

  10. says

    Wow. I wish I’d stumbled onto this earlier, great idea. I can still do it for my five year old twins, but you’re right that transition to no naps is a great time to start doing something like this. Thanks for sharing!

    • Allyson says

      Oh, mama to 5-year-old twins, I’m sure you could appreciate a little quiet time :)

  11. says

    Great idea! I have a two, soon to be three year old who I will be needing something similar for soon.

    • Allyson says

      Stay tuned for lots of great idea of activities to include…

  12. says

    I’m trying something similar for my little kids to occupy themselves during school time. My collection of activities is small, but I’m hoping to get some ideas from you this month. Right now, their favorite thing to play with is a set of magnetic wooden bears that you can dress with magnetic wooden clothes. They also like a felt puzzle I made. Because it is fabric, it is easier for Alaine to manipulate than pieces that must fit exactly.
    Kristin recently posted..31 Days, 31 Smiles {Day 2}: Identify the CrazinessMy Profile

    • Allyson says

      Our kids love anything with magnets. I’d love to hear more about your felt puzzle since Eliya can’t quite do regular puzzles independently yet.

    • Allyson says

      I’ve seen them off and on, so if you’re already making a trip to the Dollar Tree you may want to keep checking.


  1. […] All our days made this wonderful list of ideas for things that you can put in to quiet time bins (which, admittedly, is a work in progress in our house….).  I’ve been actually making craft supplies and coming up with new things for “M” to do during quiet time, and while I know she loves these activities it does add yet another thing for me to do.  I am inspired by the idea of just putting some of her toys in the bin and letting her pick something to play with.  Not that I don’t plan on throwing in a bin of new crafts or activities from time to time, but once a week is a lot easier than every day. […]