If I could recommend just one daily routine for families, it would be Quiet Time. Being able to stay home with our kids is a true blessing, but it can also lead to burned-out parents and kids who don't know how to keep themselves occupied. For families whose kids go to school, Quiet Time can still be a good routine to implement during school breaks and weekends. The benefits of Quiet Time include the following:
Children learn self-sufficiency and how to be at peace with being alone,
Children have a chance to get into the space of uninterrupted creativity,
Parents have a daily opportunity to recharge and have a short break from the often-incessant demands of parenthood,
Parents can attend to their own spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental needs, and
Parents can prevent their own burnout through daily self-care measures.
Quiet Time In Our Home
I started implementing daily Quiet Time in our home when my daughter was 3 years old and my son was still an infant. It's now 8 years later, and we're still having Quiet Time daily!
Quiet Time has become a part of our daily routine that is cherished by all of us. My introverted son finds Quiet Time essential for his own peaceful mental state, and my extroverted daughter loves having this time to read or work on her own projects without any interruptions. Quiet Time helps me feel more balanced and less stressed, so that each evening I am able to be more present with my family.
How to Get Started With Quiet Time
Talk About It Ahead of Time
Before implementing Quiet Time, I think it makes a big difference to talk with the children about the purpose of Quiet Time, so that they don't see it as a punishment. Additionally, many children have a much easier time adjusting to a new routine if they have a chance to mentally plan for it. (And, if the name "Quiet Time" doesn't work for you, feel free to call it something else such as "Peaceful Time," "Solo Time," or "Rest Time.")
At a time when everyone is calm and tranquil, explain that you'll be starting to have a daily Quiet Time and let the kids know what to expect. You could explain that you need to have some time on your own, that everyone benefits from knowing how to be on their own for short periods of time, how you will be able to be more engaged and present later on by being able to have some of your own quiet time, etc. If you are prone to losing your temper with your kids (as I was, especially before Sepia), you can even mention that having Quiet Time will help you in being less angry with your kids. Talking about Quiet Time before you implement it will help smooth the transition into this new routine.
With young children, especially, it is important to start out with only short periods of time for Quiet Time. With my 3-year-old daughter, I worked on it gently and consistently by having her stay in her room for only short periods initially (10-15 minutes). It worked well for me to turn on a short CD and tell her that she needed to stay in the room until the CD was over. It could also help to have some new toy, coloring book, or music that she could only use during Quiet Time; that way she might feel excited and glad when Quiet Time arrived. Over time, I gradually increased the amount of time that my daughter was expected to stay in her room to 30 minutes, then 45 minutes, and eventually to 1-2 hours. This was done in a positive way, and never used as a punishment. Throughout the process, my daughter learned how to entertain herself and grew to enjoy having this time on her own. And once her younger brother stopped napping, he naturally transitioned into having his own Quiet Time every day, too.
Find a Time of Day and Make it Consistent
In determining when to have Quiet Time, think about the daily rhythm of your family. For us, it has always worked best to have Quiet Time in the afternoons. My kids and I spend plenty of time together and doing various activities throughout the morning and early afternoon. By mid-afternoon, we are ready for some calmer activities so that is a natural time for us to have Quiet Time. When my son was still very young, our Quiet Time would be scheduled around his afternoon nap time. Currently, our Quiet Time generally lasts 1-2 hours and it happens sometime between 2:30-4:30 PM.
Consistency was key to making Quiet Time a regular part of our lives, as it allowed my children to know what to expect on a daily basis. Many children's emotional problems stem from a lack of control or feeling like they are not allowed to finish something. By making Quiet Time a consistent daily routine, the children are given the chance to mentally plan for it and feel more settled with the routine. Implementing anti-whining strategies can also be a big help in smoothing the transition into daily Quiet Time.
Separate Spaces for Bickering Siblings
Sibling bickering can totally ruin Quiet Time. When they were younger, I had to make sure there was a separate space for each of my children in which to have Quiet Time. Otherwise, Quiet Time would often fall apart due to bickering or some other sibling issue. So, for several years, my children had Quiet Time in separate rooms. (Since my children share a bedroom, this generally meant one of the children would be in the living room or office for Quiet Time.)
Over time, as my children matured (and in great part thanks to their constitutional homeopathic treatment), bickering became much less of an issue. My children asked to be allowed to spend Quiet Time together, and I agreed on the condition that they would move to separate spaces if needed. For the past few years now, my children have been able to have Quiet Time together and there are seldom any issues with this. Regardless, our rule is that everyone is allowed to have Quiet Time on their own whenever they want to, so on a day-to-day basis my kids determine whether they'd like to be together or separate for Quiet Time.
What My Kids Do During Quiet Time
Since I limit the amount of screen time in our home, videos or video games have never been part of our Quiet Time. When my kids were very young, they generally spent their Quiet Time listening to music while playing quietly on their own or doing other calm activities (such as coloring, drawing, or looking at books).