Every single morning in our home starts out like the opening scene to Love Actually. You remember, loved ones embracing in the airport like they haven’t seen each other in years. Yes, that’s us first thing in the morning. The two year old will say, “I misst yoooouuu” as I scoop her up, bed-head and all. Then when bedtime rolls around, well let’s just say Love Actually has ended and Frankenstein has begun.
When you’re home all day long with your children, you’re juggling so much, holding it all together, (and if you’re an introvert on top of all of that! double whammy). It’s incredibly hard to sustain that level of “peaceful motherhood” that we want to give our children without any real mental breaks. Translation: when you’re home all day with your children doing it all and you don’t have a real mental break, it ain’t pretty. Establishing a “Mandatory Quiet-Time” is not this “oh that sounds nice” type of thing. It’s essential. It’s a reset. It anchors the day and gives you a practical breather to help you finish out the day strong.
What is a Mandatory Quiet-Time?
It’s exactly that! It is a special time allotted in your learning day where the home is simply quiet. Ours is immediately after lunch from around noon to 2:00 pm ideally. Friends don’t come over. House is on shut down. We rest. For our family, this is the time when baby and (fingers crossed) the toddler are napping. So I actually need the house to be quiet despite the sound machines. But it’s also the perfect time for everyone to push pause on all of the activity (lessons, housework, active play) and reset.
What do we all do during Mandatory Quiet-Time?
The children can read, they can nap, they can even play, but it all must be quiet. Sometimes if the stars align I get to nap too! (Hallelujah Praise Jesus, Name of all Names.) Sometimes, I read or practice Mother Culture. But most often, I brew a fresh pot of coffee and we will “nap-school” quietly in the den/schoolroom. It’s still a refreshing break even though I’m still “on”. When the babies are napping, it’s just the perfect opportunity to grab some snacks and our current read-aloud or afternoon “dessert” item (handicraft, nature study, etc). My daughter might have her paper dolls or her watercolors to paint her narration of what’s being read. My son will most definitely have his dinosaurs and some other little quiet activity to keep him occupied. We will read for as long as we can or until we all want to do something else.
Note: My children cannot watch TV during this time because the toddler is napping in our bedroom where the TV is. (I know I know, tacky, but we have a small house and we didn’t want it in any other room.) They do get screen-time around 4:00 pm when I typically make dinner, depends on the day, often times they’re outside while I make dinner if the weather is nice.
I’ve heard about how Sarah Mackenzie would request that for quiet-time in her family, all feet must not touch the floor, (or something like that) meaning if you’re on your bed, stay put for a while. You can be creative but my main thing is that we whisper, we rest, we slow down.
How to Make it Happen:
You’re the Mother. What you say goes. You lead the way! Do not underestimate your office and simply make it a habit! Now I have two who still nap, and only two who do not. So I can imagine this will evolve and look differently for us through the years but it’s still something I’d like to hope that we can continue even without little ones needing naps. I’d say the hardest part will be simply starting and sticking to it.
It takes relationship and connection to bring about obedience and it takes obedience to instill a habit. All of these things simply take time.
I’m also not one for incentives. I think the children become accustomed to them and then they become a crutch. I think the benefits of the quiet time should be reward enough. (Charlotte Mason style 😂👏🏼). Guide them. Encourage them. Cuddle them. Nap school or provide quiet activities for them during this time, the key is just to start.
Does it happen perfectly all the time, everyday?
Absolutely not. I will have magical unicorn days, then other days when the toddler will NOT nap. At this point, I throw in the towel, haul them all in the car for car-naps, order a caramel latte and drive to the Chick-Fila drive-thru, for sure! Other times, we all just push through with dance parties and fresh air and have an early bedtime for the toddler.
But it’s still worth trying. And its definitely worth it on the days where it went well. Hope this was helpful. Thanks for reading. 😉