1 p.m. That lodestone house on the clock for this new mom. I felt myself mentally steering by this time, for this was when I put my two boys down for a nap and got a few moments to decompress!
Oh, those quiet moments, when all I would hear was the creaks and sighs of the house settling and my babes resting! In those sleep-drained days, I needed this time to orient myself.
When my sons started dropping their naps (my firstborn way too early!), I felt my lifeline slipping away! I personally need periods of mental rest built into my days and weeks to stay afloat. So I knew I had to reclaim this “rest” for our family.
It took me a long time to not feel guilty about creating this quiet space for myself. Yet, times of rest are not misspent; they refresh us to minister.
Early in Scripture, God tells His people to “Remember the Sabbath,” that day of rest! He knew we’d need a reminder to set aside time to refresh our souls and keep our relationship with Him strong!
As our naptimes dissolved, I worked to reframe the time as a “rest” for all of us. It’s still a work in progress, but here’s how I’m creating a time of refreshing rest since my kids stopped napping.
- Reinvent the time. Instead of letting the naptime get absorbed into the busy-ness, reinvent it. I shifted from calling it “naptime” to “quiet rest time.” Some parents I know call it “room time.” Simply naming this time for rest reminds us of our purpose.
- Give yourself grace. Don’t struggle and let the time stretch on. In Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, the author suggests once an hour passes without a baby falling asleep, parents should end the nap and try again later. I suggest the same for quiet time. Give yourself grace by having an end time. Praise your children for any minutes they were quiet, even if just a few. Moms, modify the length of time based on their abilities, and gradually grow this time if you can.
- Divide and conquer. I often separate my boys: one in the boys’ room, and one in my room. Often my littlest sits next to me and we both read books. Removing the temptation for them to start wrestling and getting rowdy goes a long way towards maintaining quiet time.
- Set clear expectations. What should children do? The specific activities will evolve as children grow. Books or coloring pages, even puzzles work well. Set clear parameters for activities, while allowing choices to give wiggle room.
- Create visual reminders. Young children don’t have a clear concept of time. Thirty or forty minutes seem like an eternity. Clear visual and auditory cues can help: “We’ll have quiet rest until this timer dings!” or “When this book on CD is finished, quiet time is over!”
- Purposefully reclaim this time! This is the hardest part, as I’m tempted to get sucked into social media, household chores, or chatting on the phone. All perfectly fine things to do, but not truly restful activities. Since my purpose is to find rest, I make myself do something to provide refreshment:
- Physical rest – take a nap or a bath
- Spiritual rest – listen to Scripture songs, or a podcast, or spend time in prayer
- Mental rest – journal or color
Above all, I remember the true Giver of Rest invites us to “Come to me… and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28).
Coming into rest refreshes us to care for others.
- Happy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child by Dr. Marc Weissbluth
- 25+ Quiet Activities to Replace Naptime for Children (and parents!) at HappyStrongHome.com