Thursday, March 26, 2009

Simple Afternoons with a Preschooler

My little William is a handful. He is chunky and loud and cute and doesn't stop talking ALL DAY LONG. Right when I found out I was pregnant with baby #5, Will stopped taking his afternoon naps. And oh how I need some quiet in the afternoons!

My oldest son Sam was the same way. He dropped his nap by the time he was two, and I was pregnant and tired. That is when I first instituted an afternoon "quiet time" for an hour. I would give him a pile of books and he would stay in his room "reading" or playing quietly for an hour. My middle two children took naps until they were 6 and 5 so I never needed to start a "quiet time" with the time they stopped napping, they started going to school!

Earlier this school year, Will would nap daily, Sam would play quietly on the computer, and I would nap or read or journal every afternoon. Now the scenario is that Sam plays on the computer, and Will wanders about LOUDLY or I reluctantly put in a video for him so that I can rest. But it's never truly quiet or restful when a TV is on.

So I am have been wanting to institute a daily "quiet time" for Will. It's been on the back-burner of the brain for a few months. Recently I read this post on creating quiet time bins for young ones and I knew I had found the answer for Will! I am also intrigued by these "preschool activities in a bag" and have been debating buying this book and hosting a swap. This would give Will something focused to do when I am trying to work one-on-one with Sam in the mornings...because he is a constant LOUD interruption...have I mentioned that Will is really loud!?! :)

So I have been busy pulling together some goodies for his quiet time bags. I didn't want to use plastic bins, so I have been happily sewing some simple drawstring bags and embroidering the days of the week on the front of each one in this free font and using some denim material I found at the thrift shop a while back. I am seeking to use what I already have. Inside each bag is going a few books and I have also set aside some wooden stringing characters, lacing cards, pipe cleaners, peg/shapes sorter toy, puzzles, activity for each bag. I am going to give him a bag each day to play with in his room and will start him off with 30 minutes alone and move up to an hour. Even though I know he won't play with those items the whole time, I think it will help settle him down, give him items to look forward to seeing again, and then maybe he'll just start playing or looking at others things in his room.

Being healthy and having margin means working towards small spaces of quiet and rest in our days. We need this. It helps us refresh, pray, refocus, and gives us a renewal in our relationships with each other. Regrouping and re-creating.

How do you find spaces of quiet when you have a toddler/preschooler at home?


Anna said...

I too read that post at Keeper of the Home. If you do a swap, I'd be interested in being a part of it. My 3, almost 4 year old, can be loud, so I know what you are talking about.

Jo said...

Oh, why do they drop those naps right when you need them most???
The quiet time bags sound like a lovely idea. A small photo album of family snaps could be something to include.
I would love to join in on a swap, it won't be long before my bub is a preschooler.

Betty said...

I have a highly sanguine/choleric 5 yr old girl right now. She's a delight, but requires my constant attention.

I did the quiet time boxes, one for each day, but she is so social, she would only work on them with me. So, it kinda defeated the purpose.

I am going to try to establish some sort of quiet time again. I do need it!

debbie bailey said...

When my children were small, quiet times were non-negotiable. If they didn't sleep, they had to stay in their rooms playing or reading until I came to get them. Once they learned that this was the way it was going to be, there wasn't a problem. I HAD to have my afternoon nap! I think it does they good too. They need some quiet, alone time even if they don't realize it.

kelli said...

I just wrote a post on margins and spaces, too:) It seems there are many of us in pursuit and need of this right now.

I don't have toddlers, but I love your ideas, and I plan to pass them onto some friends that do!

Hill upon Hill said...

Lovely, excellent for them and you. Cassette tapes with your voice on it, or stories read by you to match the book. Special bags are an excellent idea.

Christina said...

"Mommy's 30 minute nap" was essential and non-negotiable in our house through all the preschool years! It was my time to completely stop, be still, close my eyes, sometimes sleep, sometimes pray...but always rest. I would get up refreshed and ready to pour myself out again. The kids have done a variety of things during that 30 minutes - watch a TV show, computer time, playing in their room. I never went the creative route you are...sounds like you have some fantastic ideas!

Tutta la Storia said...

Wow, stumbled on you and I have to say that your blog is so refreshing! I needed this today! I just yesterday was thinking that my little snippets of blog / internet checking throughout the day were also giving me ADD. Ahh, I need simple! Nice to meet you!

Clair said...

I don't have children, but my nephews and nieces have quiet time when they come to visit if they are there for overnight. I just have each child go to a different room (with quiet things of their choosing) for a set time. It works partly because one family does it at their own home already.

Mary Ellen said...

I am amazed you could be telling my story with my son. When he was just a wee one he dropped his daytime nap. I had not read about "quiet time" but I knew I could not function without some. I am more introverted and my son is all extrovert. He talked at a year old ALLL DAY long. I would listen to him talk himself to sleep at night. Actually, he still does:) Anyway I said you don't have to take a nap but you do have to stay in your room and play quietly. His room was completely child proof. I closed the door that first day and listened to him call for me and cry. It was terrible. But two weeks of consistancy and he learned how to entertain himself. Like Bettye posted, he did not know how to play by himself.

I did not create special activities for him. Just allowed him to play in his room (something until this point he never did on his own). Sometimes he would lie down and fall asleep on his own. I did not know what a great gift I was giving both of us. He learned it's ok to be quiet and alone with yourself (something my very extroverted husband wishes he had learned as a child) and I got a refreshing time I so desperately needed. Just wanted to say kudos to you!

Jen said...

I love the activity bag ideas. My son, thankfully, is a quiet little guy who entertains himself most of the time! But I want to try that idea so that I don't rely on the TV too much--I also have a four-month old. My friend does "room time" with her kids. She puts a baby gate in the bedroom doorway so her toddler will stay in his room and play, but she can still hear him. It will be nice for you when you have this baby, too, to have your little guy "trained".

Wendy said...

Great ideas! Thanks!