Quiet Time Toys for Independent and Calm Play
Today, on Redhead Mom, I’m sharing a partnered guest post about quiet time toys for independent and calm play.
If your preschooler has dropped their naps, you’re probably desperate to find a way to get them to engage in quiet, independent play activities that give you a chance to do all the things you used to when they would sleep.
Introducing quiet play time as a replacement for napping will go a long way in keeping your family happy – especially if your little one is tired but refuses to rest in bed (there’s nothing worse than an overtired child!). Quiet time gives parents a break and kids the chance to recharge their batteries.
Why quiet time is important
Most parents dread their children transitioning away from daily naps for these reasons:
- Kids often end up overtired by the end of the day, especially at the start of the transition.
- No naps means more contact time with your children (no matter how much we adore them, kids are exhausting!).
- There’s less time to do the household chores and other bits and pieces that were much easier to achieve without little helpers.
It also means fewer chances to grab a nap yourself, and if you have a new baby, less time to spend one-on-one with them.
Young children often don’t have the self-regulation to rest when they’re tired, which means they’ll keep on playing until they crash. Encouraging them to have quiet time helps promote wellbeing and improved behavior.
Other benefits of quiet time are:
- Improved focus by assisting kids to reset and refresh before continuing with an activity.
- Supports independence and creativity through the ability to direct their own play.
- Nurtures mindfulness and calm and encourages reflection.
Positive Tips for Instituting Quiet Time
Tell your child that instead of napping, you’re going to do daily quiet time where they can stay in their room and play. If you make it clear they aren’t expected to be in bed, they’ll be more cooperative. You may also consider involving them in play therapy sessions.
- Involve them in the process by helping them decide where their quiet time area will be.
- Create a routine: set quiet time for the same time each day, and build up the period of time each day until you reach the sweet spot for your family.
- Once you have figured out how long you wish to make this period, use a timer to make sure it stays consistent. This will help your child know to anticipate it, and understand that it will run for a finite period and they won’t be “stuck” there forever.
- Offer a selection of toys that promote restful play with minimal stimulation. Only bring these toys out during quiet time to help your preschooler make the connection.
Toys That are Perfect for Quiet Time
First of all, consider safety, and proactively contain any chaos that can ensue from unsupervised play. This will differ depending on the age and maturity of your child, but if you know you can’t relax while your children have marker pens, best leave those out of the quiet time toy box!
Secondly, consider activities your child loves. Are there any play schemas they are engaged in? Do they love dinosaurs or are they obsessed with vehicle toys like die cast cars? Giving your child quiet activities that you know they’ll love will make the transition more successful.
A reading nook with comfy cushions, a blanket and easily accessible children’s books is the perfect alternative to having a sleep in bed. Even if your child can’t read yet, they’ll be able to look at the pictures and tell themselves a story – lift-the-flap books are great for this.
Reading a book with your child before leaving them is a great way to transition into quiet time. An alternative to physical books is an audiobook or music player that they can operate themselves.
Create a busy bag that they only have during downtime. Make sure all the toys are age-appropriate and able to be completed without needing an adult to help.
Ideas for toys to include are:
- Watercolor pen books (these are brilliant as they are mess-free)
- Color and shape-sorting activities
Other toys you might want to include in their quiet time area, depending on your preschooler’s interests, are:
- Their favorite soft toys
- Building toys like Lego or magnetic tiles
- Vehicle toys
- Playdough or kinetic sand
For School-Age Kids
Even older kids need a chance to wind down and rest when they get home from school. STEM projects, thinking puzzles like Sudoku, and card games that won’t lead to squabbles (cooperative games are great for this) are all great activities for older kids to recover from the overwhelm of the school day.
Setting up a routine for downtime will have huge benefits for both parents and children. It gives everyone a chance to take a break, recover from any fun they had earlier in the day and recharge their batteries for any adventures in the late afternoon. It’s a great way to encourage children to develop self-regulation techniques like mindfulness and increase their ability to focus. With so many benefits and no risks, why not try it with your kids today?
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