Embracing the Quiet Box

>> Friday, March 4, 2016

As I mentioned earlier this week, we've hit a hard spot with sleep recently. I don't get a lot of sympathy on this matter because, well, Ada's four. It's expected that the nap is going to disappear eventually. Kids get up early. Kids don't want to sleep, etc. But -- I mean, c'mon. When you're in a good rhythm and -- all of a sudden -- the morning, noon, and night changes all at once? It sucks!

According to BabyCenter, children age four need between 11-12 hours of sleep each day. It might be divided into 9 to 12 hours of nighttime sleep and between 0-2.5 hours of nap. Of course, these are averages and suggestions. There's no set standard. Knowing that Ada needs 2-3 fewer hours of sleep than she did last year does help me feel better about the change.

But I'm still not cool with losing my me-time. Right? After all, I'm pregnant. I've been particularly exhausted lately. I work from home primarily during preschool and nap times and before wakeup/after bed times. And I know I will soon have a newborn, so we all need all the rest we can get.

I had looked up quiet time boxes on Pinterest back when Ada was two. She had a nap strike back then and I thought it was all over.  

(Side note: First-time moms of younger kids + tots -- don't give up on the nap so easily! All kids are different, and -- yes -- yours might want to give up napping early. But persistence, if you can, is key. Ada had multiple times throughout the years when I thought she'd be done with napping, only to return to months upon months of awesome 2-hour naps up until this stage. Fight the good fight!)

Anyway, I could write a lot about naps. But today I just want to share our quiet box. It's been working really well. Ada's occupied and having fun while I get some quiet time to get stuff done, like work or dinner preparations.

Or while I take a half-nap.
That sounds good.

There are so many ways to do the quiet box thing. Some people have one for each day of the week with different stuff in it. I decided I didn't have the space for that, so:
  • I rotate out different things each day. Or not. Usually I try to put at least one different thing in and not everything you see here is in the box at all times. I try to keep it to four or five activities, so as not to overwhelm.
  • I also don't go crazy trying to make it endlessly entertaining. I strongly believe it's OK and even GOOD for kids to be bored and to have to come up with new uses for the same old stuff. 
  • The same goes with the actual content. You can get really educational or just go with open-ended play. I choose play. Ada gets enough learning at school, and I think she just needs to have the opportunity to be creative, to dwell in her thoughts and imagination.
Other stuff:
  • She can only play with the quiet box during those designated quiet times. So, if she wakes up too early, we have an OK-to-wakeup time set, and then she can get the box. She has to at least try to nap before she can play with the box (and yesterday she napped 2 hours -- there are days when she really does still need it!). 
  • She has to stay in her room while playing. If she needs assistance with a project, I'll give it to her later, so she just sets it aside. For example, she wanted to make a big ball out of the pipe cleaners today, but she waited and did other things until I could help her.
  • Everything in the box needs to be cleaned up before we move on to the rest of the day. If she throws something around or makes a mess, that activity gets taken away.
 Here's some of the specific things in our box right now:
So far this system is working out well for us. I'd love to know if you do something similar. I'd also love suggestions for things to put in the box, ways to deal with super random sleeping times (wakeups/bedtimes are all over the place -- I'm sure we're just in a big transition), and anything else related to preschool age sleep.

HAPPY FRIDAY! And don't forget to enter the $75 PinkBlush #giveaway!

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