Have you ever felt completely tapped out? Do you find yourself at 3:00 pulling your hair out and searching for a chocolate bar (or ice cream, or coke, or wine)? I know I have, and let me begin by saying that I don’t think this is something that we have to accept as a “normal” part of motherhood. Let me tell you what saved me from this post-lunch, pre-dinner, still-have-2.5-hours-until-Dad-gets-home-disaster. The miracle answer?
What is this magical cure called quiet time you might ask? I’m so glad you did! I discovered quiet time several years ago. I cannot remember what particular atrocity brought me to my wits’ end that fateful day, however if I had to wager a guess, it was probably some combination of too many requests to entertain one child while another screamed and clung to my legs for dear life. You see, I never planned on playing Suzy Homemaker. Oh, no, no! My grand plan included slacks, business casual lunches, and a fulfilling career.
As humorous as it is for me to look back at those so-called dreams now, it’s necessary to see where I’m coming from. Some moms just totally get it. They were born to be moms. They wear their hair just so and it’s always nice. They don’t ever appear to lose their cool. They plan fun outings and educational activities on a weekly basis. They always have neat snacks packed in an uber-organized bag and they never run out of tissues. All right so I may be stretching things a little here, but seriously, there are some moms who are just awesome. They just totally were made for this mom thing.
The Possibilities of Quiet Time
Let me tell you a secret–you can be too! Oh believe me, friend, it is possible! I too was doubtful. I too was buried beneath the doubt and guilt that is parenting in the 21st century. But fear not! The answer for me was easy. Enter: Quiet Time. The magical one hour of each day that you can tell your children to go away and just be. And then you know what? You too can just be. Think about it…the possibilities are ENDLESS! You could shower! Eat something! Watch some TV! Or simply stare blankly at the wall and just be one with yourself and your own thoughts.
This is the time I use to make those important phone calls, eat a snack without sharing, and open my bible. We are constantly being encouraged as moms to rise before the children, open up our bibles and have some alone time with God to start the day off right. Let me tell you that I’ve tried this and I have one thing to say about it, HAHAHA! Seriously, my second child will rise when I rise. If I’m up at 7:30, she’s up and asking for breakfast. If I’m up at 6:00, she’s lumbering out of bed and asking what I’m doing and why is it still dark out?!
No, rising before the children doesn’t work for me, so I use this time to catch up on my time with the Lord. I’m not always successful in this endeavor. I really struggle sometimes in having enough discipline to apply myself to His Word each day. I feel like this can be a big battle for exhausted moms. Hopefully starting a daily Quiet Time for yourself and your children can help make that battle a little easier, if that’s something you’re struggling with.
My best tips to get started with Quiet Time
1 – First, let me tell you that I’m not encouraging you to put your one-year-old in a room alone and shut the door.
Independent play is something that does have an age factor to it. For my kids, Quiet Time begins when they stop napping regularly. For my son, that was sometime in his 4th year. My daughter started at three. If you have a two-year-old who has given up napping, you could try implementing a modified Quiet Time where the door stays open and the time is shortened to whatever is appropriate for that particular child.
2 – Regardless of when you begin, you’ll need to be prepared to work at it a bit.
When I began Quiet Time with my son, he was already fairly good at independent play. He has always enjoyed creating things, so for him it was just another opportunity to make something awesome. My daughter, on the other hand, was quite a bit younger, and being the second child, was used to always having someone else around. She took some work, but through perseverance, we made it through.
I suggest beginning with a short amount of time when you first implement Quiet Time.
3 – Remember to lay the ground rules and reiterate it a few times.
Children learn through repetition, so it won’t hurt to have them recite the rules back to you after you’ve told them what you expect. For us the expectations are:
- You will be quiet while you are in Quiet Time. You may listen to music or a book on CD, you may talk or sing, however your noise level should not reach me in the living room.
- You are expected to enter Quiet Time with whatever you think is necessary to get you through the hour. If you need a cup of water, snack, special toy, coloring book, etc., please gather your things on your way to your room.
- If you need to come out, make sure it is for a legitimate reason. You may come out to use the restroom, ask me an urgent question, or tell me something very important. However, if you continue to come out of Quiet Time before time is up, you’ll receive extra time in your room.
- When Quiet Time is over, Mom WILL come and get you. I will not just leave you in there.
- You are expected to do a quick pick-up in your room at the end of Quiet Time.
Now, please know that I am not some crazy rule Nazi.
My children frequently come out to tell me that they made something super awesome or to ask if Quiet Time is over; however, I try to limit their chances before they get a warning. I always remind them that Quiet Time is for everyone and that includes me. If they come out, they are interrupting my Quiet Time as well as possibly disrupting their siblings. These are the rules that work well for our family. You’ll have to think about what works best for your family.
I did get pretty lax with Quiet Time over the summer, and let me tell you that after a few months I was getting pretty cranky and so were the kids!
Luckily, I recognized that I had been neglecting Quiet Time, which essentially leaves no time for myself. So I would say that once you get it going, you should really think hard about taking a long break. My kids don’t do Quiet Time 365 days a year. Some days we have play dates, other days we’re out and about, and of course weekends are family time, so they have plenty of non-Quiet Time days. However, taking a long break over summer had everybody gnashing teeth and lashing out at one another.
4 – Independent play is so beneficial for children that it really is something we should encourage.
In a culture that places an emphasis on scheduled activities and so many group get-togethers for children, it’s very important for kids to not only know how to entertain themselves, but to really be able to open their minds and explore their abilities. I encourage everyone to do some more research if you’re unsure about the benefits of independent play. A great place to start is here.
When are you able to get in your alone time with the Lord?
Do you implement some type of Quiet Time in your home? What does it look like for your family?