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!
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.
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
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.)
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.
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.
Simple Crafts ~ bead stringing, stickers, collage materials, etc.
Flashcards & Learning Tools ~ add foam or magnet letters or numbers for matching fun.
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.
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