Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Rest Time

I mentioned that my boys go to rest time in my post about the diet detox, but I realized I had never blogged about this part of our day, at least not in detail. Well, it's about time as I feel this is one of my huge "sanity keepers"!

Some wonderful person (I wish I could remember who so I could hug her neck ;) ) gave me a piece of advice when Thatcher was just starting to drop his daily nap. She encouraged me to never give up a "quiet time" for him even though a "nap time" was just about history. I took her advice and told him (at the time almost 4), "Thatcher, you don't have to sleep if you don't feel like it. Just stay in your room and play." We picked out a different special toy each day and he happily played away. Sometimes he would still nap and sometimes he didn't. And guess what? He thought that was soooo cool that he didn't have to nap?! He was in heaven. It wasn't until a year or more later that he realized I'd completely duped him. Lol!!!

The reality was that I needed the down time as much or more as he did. I love my children with my whole heart but the demands of homeschooling, raising a special needs kiddo, busy boys and my personality that re-energizes with solitude means that I need some quiet each and every day.

So each day around 2:00 my boys go to their rooms for rest time seven days a week. They stay for about an hour and a half to two hours depending on other things we have going on that day. Beckett still naps but the older two don't, although Haddon will still fall asleep if we've had a field trip or nature hike that morning. They can have one or two buckets out of the playroom each day; we store the majority of our toys in clear Sterilite containers in the playroom closet. Occassionally we do something special like letting the boys trade rooms or allow them to play together. It's amazing how beautifully they will play during these times since they feel it's such a special treat, even if they have been fighting all morning!

Are you interested? Could you use your own down time? Here are some tips I've learned over the years that have helped make rest time successful. First, when they are young and starting out, I put a baby gate on their room as a physical reminder that they are to stay put. I start with a doable time, usually 30 minutes. If they struggle with that time and start fussing, I give them a lollipop or other treat and send them back in to play more. I want them to know this is a special and fun part of our day, not a punishment. I gradually increase the time up to an hour. As they near five I begin to require an hour and a half and Thatch sometimes will stay up to two hours.

Each of my children's personalities has them approach rest time differently. Thatcher, as an Aspie and a first born, loves solitude and typically loves rest time. It recharges his batteries so he can handle the remainder of the day. It is a sacred time for him when no little brothers bother him or interrupt his plans. He can get out all his tiny legos or K'nex with not a soul to mess anything up! Haddon, my middle child, struggles with playing by himself. Rest time is a discipline for him. He is learning to entertain himself (something Thatcher does naturally) which is a very valuable life skill, in my opinion. All of my boys enjoy audio books and the Classical Kids CD's but for him they are especially helpful in getting him through his one-and-a-half hours somedays. I always keep a basket of audio books from the library and he will ask for them when he needs one. I will be curious how Beckett approaches rest time when he begins to drop naps, which is I hope is still not for awhile yet!

During this time I have disciplined myself to sit for at least half of this time each day. I start out by reading from my Bible and whatever other book I am working on. The last 30-45 minutes I try to get a few chores done, return any phone calls from that morning, chat with a friend, return emails, blog or any other little thing that needs to be done.

If your children are older, it's not too late to institute a rest time. My boys are old enough now where I have explained to them my need for quiet and how much it helps me to recharge my own batteries. They know they are not to come down and ask me lot of little questions, although they do occassionally peep in at me. If you are starting out, I would do just like with the littles - start with a short time and build up. Reward them with their successes and help them understand this is not a punishment but should be viewed as a treat. Help them understand how to recharge their own batteries. Is it sketching, reading, building, using their imagination...Your kids may not love rest time but it can become a regular part of a wonderful day.

What are your sanity keepers?


Sheryl said...

I have gotten so undisciplined in this area. My oldest, Hope, loves solitude and like Thatcher could stay for hours at a time in her own world, uninterrupted by the "lesser people". lol But Hugh, he hates being alone. He will ask to play with his toys near me. He will come and ask me a million questions. For him being made to be alone is a punishment. I need to work on this more. I do think it is not only a great skill but just as important as learning social behaviors. Being still is a talent that is being lost in our culutre. Thanks for the remainder. As for my ways to destress by mid day...well, sometimes I declare it laundry time and pile up on my bed with a good movie and loads of laundry. Sometimes I will have a little wine ( I don't like tea or coffee so it was wine by default.) while I prep for dinnerand listen to Kenny Chesney or Nora Jones. Sometimes I will sit outside in a rocker and read while they ride their bikes etc. Sometimes I declare it Mommy's journal time. Sometimes I just call my husband and say..."when are you coming home!!!" lol

Jennie said...

That is a great idea...I think I will have to incorporate this principal into my day somehow!


Melissa said...

A big fat Amen!

Like you, I recharge by being alone, so I knew as a homeschooler that I would not mentally survive without sequestered rest time for all present. I've heard of people doing 45 minute to an hour, but I truly need those two hours.

Sometimes people marvel that I manage to get all four "down" at the same time, but since I transitioned right into it with my oldest, it's really never been an issue. Plus, I worked hard to get the younger two into a routine that coincides in the afternoon.

It's so interesting to watch the different ways my older boys spend their time. It really reflects their personalities!

Great advice to mention, Jen.

Alycia in Va. said...

We do quiet time during the weekends (DD4 goes to preschool). She rarely naps but will use that time to read books or listen to music in her room. As long as she doesn't wake the baby or cause any bodily injury- I'm pretty flexible on whatever she wants to do....in HER room.

Amy said...

We usually do something like this in the afternoons. My youngest is still napping, and I will often send my oldest (5 yrs) to read quietly in a cozy corner of the playroom during his brother's nap. My problem is filling MY downtime wisely! Usually I collapse at the computer and browse the internet, only to be sorry later I wasn't more productive.
I love your ideas!

Heidi said...

I am terrible about making rest time a routine in our family. Levi was excellent about listening to books on CD for long periods of time, but Luke *hates* to play independently. I used Leif's nap time to do school with Levi, because it was almost impossible to get it done otherwise. Leif gave up naps so early, and staying in the room alone was torturous. I spent the entire time trying to keep him in his room. (A child gate is completely ineffective with him...) Ugh. I really need to work on the quiet alone time skill with both of my younger boys. What a battle, though...

School for Us said...

My daughter is an only child and usually does not enjoy playing by herself. We usually have about a 45 minute "rest time" in the afternoon where I take a nap and she watches TV. I know she will not appreciate this at first, but I think I'm going to try to switch us both to 45 minutes of quiet play and/or reading. Maybe if I let her listen to a book on CD that will help.

Thanks for explaining this part of your day! It was very helpful!

Anonymous said...

This is a fantastic idea. I'm a new homeschooling mom with older boys. Next year will be my first year with all 3 home (ages 15, 12, 9)so I will implement this from the get go! Each day they can go to their rooms with their readers and I can have some time to myself and in God's word. Thanks!