Let me be real - I.need.a.break.from.children!!!! Let me tell you something else - they need a break from me too! This isn't just my children it's all children! We LOSE OUR MINDS at school in the dead of winter when we can't go outside for recess. We all just need a break from each other! THIS IS OKAY!!!!
I have started something new-ish at my house that we have done some on Saturdays but are now doing daily whenever we are home and it's possible this summer. QUIET TIME.
Here is how it works -
step 1 - you go to your room
setp 2 - Mama sets a timer
step 3 - you stay in said room
DONE. I usually set the timer for an hour.
play, do whatever is legal in this house within the confines of your room (example - coloring on the wall will get you 25- life), and do it quietly. When the timer goes off I will come and tell you that you're allowed to come out.
During this time I don't care what they do in their rooms as long as it is quiet ish. Now obviously I don't store things like permanant markers and acrylic paint in their bedrooms where this will end badly for me. W is awesome at quiet time, except for the quiet part. There are times that whatever he is doing sort of sounds like he is adding an addition on to the house. Occasionally I'll holler in there to say chill out some, but if I can help it I don't go in their rooms. This is their quiet time. Usually someone needs to use the bathroom (of course because kids always have to use the bathroom when they are supposed to be confined to a space).
One thing that I love the most is that I normally find them at the end reading books, or at least I see books all over the floor in suspected reading. Today I went in to tell W that he was allowed to come out - after an HOUR and he is FOUR and he looked up at me from his chair and said "Mom, I'm reading books." So I slowly backed away, thanked my lucky stars, ran and got my iphone and took a picture naturally. I stuck my head in to check on SK and she is asleep. AHHHHH the beauty of quiet time.
Naturally the first few times we did this there was a lot of yelling though the wall "MOOOOOMMMMMM can we come out yet???? We have been in here FOREVERRRRRRR!"
The purpose of this - along with my sanity, is to help them learn how to self direct. I am not in there telling them what to do, suggesting play ideas, providing lots of things. While in their rooms they have to work with what they've got. In the girls room they have a big thing of books that are SK's and H's. The girls also have baby cradle, baby beds, and their dollhouse, along with a big basket of babies. That's it. SK did originally take our small dog in with her but Hazel wisely escaped promptly. In W's room he has a big thing of books that are his as well as a toy thing with pull our drawers with some guys, cars, trucks, etc. I have noticed however after quiet time that what W has out mostly (obviously after he has been working construction in there or whatever), is his books.
This would be all rainbows, unicorns, glitter and sunshine for me - and I would be laid up with a book, cuddled under a quilt with a blog, or a cup of coffee loving every second.....but there is H. I love her. Obviously. Bad news about her age is that she naps before lunch and quiet time is after lunch. So during quiet time she is awake. I have tried sending her in with SK and slowly she does spend more time in there but for her it's just about introduction. Usually she comes in the living room with me, sometimes plays a quiet activity, usually just wants me to rock her or something that includes her clinging to me. My hope is that she will see what quiet time is, come to expect it and slowly as she gets a little older be integrated in.
Anyway this has worked amazingly better for me than insisting that the older 2 take naps. For one SK is in school full time during the year now so there are no naps. I think it isn't a good idea to get her in the habit of a mid afternoon nap when she won't get one most of the year. (If you follow me on IG @akhouser you will see she gets her share of naps on the way home from school - especially Mondays.) W is a major night owl. When he naps he naps for keeps - like 3-4 hours. Yes it's amazing at the time, no it's not amazing when I'm still trying to get him to go to sleep at 11 and I can hear him kicking his wall awake in his bed. So this allows them some down time but doesn't REQUIRE that they sleep (which eliminates the tears that usually come with me forcing naps). How do you chill your kids out/rest them/etc?