More About Quiet Time

This comment came in from a reader of the blog and I wanted her to have some feedback regarding Quiet Time.  She writes, “My 4 yr old has not napped since she was three and a half to four, but we continued having “rest time.” I had her stay in her own room to do this since she sometimes would fall asleep, but lately I have had her try doing her quiet time out in the den with me while the one yr old naps. Sometimes she tends to be less focused when I am there and wants to talk to me… I am interested in what parameters others set for quiet times for non-napping kids? Alone in room or out with mom in the den/living room? What kinds of activities – books only, quiet toys, does mom read to the child for part of the time or do they stay silent?

Also, I am curious how interruptions in sleep affect a four yr old… my daughter tends to wake at least once a night, sometimes twice, to use the toilet. And sometimes she just wants to be tucked back in and have one of us lay next to her for a couple minutes. I know at some point she’ll feel confident enough to just go to the bathroom on her own without waking us… But I wonder if this is disruptive to her quality of sleep?”

These are a few of my personal thoughts, but I hope many mothers will leave comments below as to their own practices.

I feel that during Quiet Time, mothers should be resting.  This may change as your children grow, but I feel if you are going about the house doing work, folding laundry, etc. and your child is younger than 7 and in that imitative phase, than they will want to be doing what you are doing.  Also, as homeschooling mothers, I feel it is an important priority for us to have some true down time to think, evaluate in our heads what happened in the morning in our homeschool time and to prepare in our heads for the afternoon activities.

I personally don’t mind if my child wants to be our big bed with me, but I am laying down with my eyes closed! or if they want to be on their own bed.  I also don’t mind when my four year old looks at (a few!) books (not the “ole giant stack!) and then rests, but I also feel many Waldorf mothers would feel this undermining to the point of Quiet Time – which would be the ability to be still and not have to be “entertained” by a book or by reading or by toys.  I don’t know, I would love to hear the perspectives of some of the Waldorf mothers out there!

As far as the waking up in the night to go to the bathroom, it seems to me that many four-year-olds are not dry through the night, so this may be a real need.  I think as long as she can really get up and go right back to sleep, then it is just where she is.  However, if she is up and fully awake, perhaps you could investigate a bit further.  Does she wake up at the same times every night to do this?  Could you bring her to the bathroom before you go to sleep yourself and would that change these nighttime waking patterns?  And then observe what goes on during the day…

C’mon mothers, please give your perspectives on Quiet Time and sleep.  Leave your comments in the box below!

Many blessings,


21 thoughts on “More About Quiet Time

  1. Ahhh Quiet Time…elusive time…I never realized that the reason my children might not take a good quiet time, is that I always do chores while they are (suposed) to be resting. Perhaps I need to demostrate the behavior I’d like them to imitate. I rather like that idea…I will try it this weekend. The funniest thing is that at school (preschool) and daycare my kids are great resters/nappers.

  2. I continue to have my son’s quiet time in his room. Though he may play he is “contained” and therefore more quiet and I actually can get in a short nap and read a bit. When he’s in the family room or my room he never sleeps. Generally he plays for about a half hour and then I hear him climb in to bed. I’m so grateful he’s a good sleeper and doesn’t fight quiet time. We’ll see if the subsequent children follow suit!:)

  3. Dear Carrie,
    you hit a hard point for me…Before she was three it became impossible to make my child nap. I didn’t accept it very well and it was surely part of the problem.
    Since then (she’s 4 and half now), it’s still a diificult moment. If I lay in bed and close my eyes she keeps on telling me “Don’t close your eyes” and so on and really disturbs me jumping on my back, belly, ecc. As a result I get nervous and stand up.
    The only quiet time we can have, is reading some books, but I’m not resting at all!

    I must admit it’s not a joyful moment…


    P.S. Excuse me for my English

    • Will she do something quiet next to you while you close your eyes? Look at a book, lacing cards, etc?
      Just curious.
      She doesn’t have to sleep, but slowing down is so nice and preferable to running on all cylinders all day!

      Your English is very good Federica! I enjoy all your comments and insights! 🙂

  4. I agree with Carrie about Mums needing the quiet time as much as the kids. I LOVE having an after lunch cat nap, even now with no kids at home.
    I remember having them sitting next to me, quiet & peaceful, knowing that I wouldn’t really respond to what they said, but it was so cosy, and a chance for me to recharge before the pre-dinner phase of the day.
    If you don’t like being in bed at that time of the day, what about some gentle yoga, or meditation?

  5. My son stopped napping at the age of three. For months I tried to get him to nap. I’d lay with him and he would play making quiet sound effects to go with his flying saucer hands. One day he FINALLY fell asleep. That night he didn’t go to sleep until midnight. That was the last time I tried to get him to sleep. He is now 7. We homeschool so after lunch he plays outside and then he washes up and has quiet time. Mostly quiet time happens in his room where he can read, or work quietly on whatever project he sees fit, as long as he can do it quietly. In the summer time he may choose to lay in the hammock outside.

    I love watching him just swing slowly back and forth as he stares at the leaves, the birds and the squirrels. He usually has a great comment or bright ideas after days like these.

    I nap. For an hour everyday, I nap. I wouldn’t change it for the world:)

  6. I don’t really use quiet time to nap any more… although I do rest. I usually take ten minutes to wash the lunch dishes and then I lounge on the couch and read (mostly on the computer, which maybe does not create rest so well, but I am quiet and still at least). I don’t feel good the rest of the day if I actually fall asleep for more than a quick doze (the kind where the head drops and then snaps up immediately over and over ;). So, once we are past about 6 months old with a baby, I don’t actually sleep at rest time any more. I do like the idea of children sitting with mom on the couch and reading or doing lacing cards… that does sound cozy!

  7. We struggled with this on and off once my kids got to the point where they didn’t need/resisted naps. I enforced a quiet time where they were allowed to read — yes, not necessarily Waldorfy, but I believe that it’s important to do what works for your family, within reasonable limits.

    I had them always in another room from mine, because it never worked very well for us to be together. For a little while I tried to have my son rest on my bed with me — he would do whatever he could to not fall asleep (though not as physical as Federica’s experience!) and I had to be pretty strict about stopping that right away…because if I could get him to just lie quietly with his eyes closed for 60 seconds, he’d be out like a light!

    I didn’t have trouble with bedtime if I had nap time early enough in the day. Any sleeping after 3 pm or so did affect bedtime adversely.

    I really did need that recharge time when they were very little. Now that my kids are older (5 and 7) they play quietly in the afternoon or read, for about an hour, and I do the same.

    As for night waking, I think it’s often just a developmental stage, either physically with needing the toilet, or sometimes with bad dreams and such. At least in adults, regular night waking at the same time sometimes indicates issues with the liver, but I’m not sure if that applies to young children as well. You could try to emphasize carbs over proteins at dinner and see if that helps.

    • I like what you say here..who says Waldorf quiet time would not involve reading? My oldest likes to read at quiet time, or draw sometimes while she is on her bed..I think we do what works for us. I also like your point about the importance of boundaries during this time, it is hard if a child is really wound up during quiet time….Federica, is your child getting a good amount of outside time in the morning before you try to rest? Or is your child overtired by the time you have quiet time? We eat lunch early and have quiet time fairly early…..:)

  8. I have two boys. Ages 3 and 6. We have always had nap/rest time. My older son looks at a few books and then lays down to rest. Until about age 51/2 he would fall asleep. Now sometimes he will listen to a story on CD, but he still has rest time. I usually doze off with my 3 year old for about 20 min. and then I try to just read on the couch. It is a great break from the day. Days that we are even out on an adventure we still will come home and rest,so that everyone has their down time. We need to recharge for the rest of the day and it is a good time for siblings to get a break from one another.
    Rest time is great!

  9. That is a great point about children under 7 and imitating what we do … if we aren’t resting, they won’t want to either.

    I’m like you in that I don’t mind if someone is in the big bed with me, but we have a rule that you don’t have to sleep but you do have to be quiet so that others can sleep. I allow picture books or maybe even listening to music or an audio book sometimes, too.

    I wasn’t always one to give myself a quiet time, too (I was the mom rushing about trying to get all the housework done during nap time) but now I see so much value in it and have come to realize that even if I give myself just a half an hour to rest, I can do that housework and other things with a better attitude and feeling so much more refreshed and, well, rested 🙂

    Great topic!

  10. Dear Carrie,
    we usually had one hour and half or two in the garden until she was 3 and a half. Than she started Waldorf K for three mornings a week.

    I think it’s very linked with her temperament: not once in her life did she ask for sleeping while I saw children same age pulling the arm of their mother and begging for a nap! Now she’s older and it’s not so hard for me although I know it’s our weak point on which I have to work.
    During wintertime she sleeps from max.19.30 till 6.30-7.00, in the summertime our sleep time shifts an hour forward. I think her sleep rythm is around 11 hours.
    I’ve never showed her a video but sometimes I thought it could have been the only way to stop her after lunch but I don’t feel it’s time for her to begin watching tv yet.

    So in my opinion there’s something about her temperament, something about imitation when she was more little (I like to read, rest but not so much to nap) and I must admit something about boundaries and letting mama go without always drawing attention and my nervous reaction in the past didn’t help the process…
    With the coming season change I’ll work on it again!


    • I think temperament is huge in this as well, I have seen that with other children and my own children. However, if this is not her strong point then she really does need your help, your loving guidance, your loving limit to help her develop this skill. Maybe start with a very small amount of time with something quiet to do (can she finger knit at all? lacing cards? something quiet!) and then progress from there….
      Lots of love,

  11. I also realized that I was really thinking about my 4 yr old here when in fact, my 19 month old is struggling with nap time too. She has never napped consistently – with my older child, she gradually was able to sleep longer stretches without me. My 19 month old goes back and forth where she’ll have 2 weeks of good solid naps and 2 weeks or more of poor napping (where she is either really hard to get to stay asleep initially, or she will wake after only 30 or 45 minutes). I nurse her to sleep in my arms and then, when she seems really out, I put her up to my shoulder and then walk over to the mattress on the floor and lay her down on her tummy, laying my cheek against her back for a moment to help her feel settled… I have considered trying to not nurse her to sleep anymore and instead lay next to her after nursing her, but I hate to lose the special nursing to sleep time! She already does not nurse to sleep at bedtime any more, so my husband puts her to bed then.

  12. I have been getting frustrated with nap time myself. I like Erin have a young one, 17 months. We have been working on rhythm in our day and I try to get him to take a nap at 1pm everyday. I nurse him to sleep as well and used to just put him down for a nap when he fell asleep nursing anywhere between 12 and 2:30. I rarely get him to sleep at one. He just wants to play. There is no way I can get him to sleep with out nursing or riding in the car. How have people transitioned from nursing to laying their children down for a nap and a certain time. Thanks

  13. As others have said, temperament and the individual family’s needs and personalities are a big part of this issue, but…

    We also need to be the adults setting boundaries for our children. Jumping on my head or screaming when I have said that it’s quiet time is not OK. I would be making sure that there is plenty of active time outside if at all possible, making sure the room is warm/dark/quiet, and looking at the diet to make sure overly stimulating foods or spices are not a culprit. (Did you know cinnamon is stimulating?) But there comes a time when the child may be pushing the boundaries, and asking for us to set them.

    The hard part is that setting boundaries takes time and many, many repetitions. And we have to be unemotional about it, otherwise then we get into interactions that we probably don’t want to be modeling for our children — frustration, impatience, anger, etc. (And this was a challenge for me, especially when I was the one needing a nap!)

    So we find ourselves saying over and over, “Now it is time to be quiet.” “Mama will close her eyes to rest, and you will read your books.” “When the timer is on, we are sitting quietly.” Etc. etc. etc. At 2.5 years it’s too early to have “consequences” or expect rational thinking, or awareness of cause and effect, or anything that we tend to rely on with older children, unfortunately!

    I would also mention that at around 3 years there is often a new independence in children, where they are not quite so clingy and “needy”. Their etheric bodies are starting to individuate ever so slightly, and this sometimes manifests in new “skills” such as being able to quietly play for a bit.

  14. Where is Kelly with her two and a half year old? Kelly, I think I accidentally deleted your comment trying to respond to you! I am so sorry….
    You were asking where to go from here, essentially. You had tried a timer and other things…
    Several things do come to mind – the amount of outside time in the AM, the fact that at 2 and a half she probably is actually really tired if not overtired by middle of the day so keeping home as much as possible, starting the time with reading or telling a soothing story, maybe for a bit of time your quiet time is telling a story, a soothing foot bath with essential oils, and then lay down and snuggle together and slowly work toward her being able to do something next to her whilst you are lying down. It may take time, but I do believe this is worth your perseverance. The other things I always ask parents to look at include food allergies and diet, stimulating foods.

    This may be the first real boundary you have to set with your little one, and you can be kind whilst doing it, but it has to be done, even if it takes calm repetition over a month. An exercise of your own self-discipline and will.
    Carrie 🙂

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