Post by Contributing Writer Amy
“Quiet Time” at my house was getting to be more like “Diversion Time: Twins Edition.” It was a special time of day to creatively come up with as many different reasons to tip-toe out of your room as possible and slowly drive your mother crazy. While it was certainly working for my two girls, it was not working for me. Although, I have to admit that I did enjoy their tactics. They tried being really stubborn and whiney, but when that didn’t work, they quickly switched to being extra cute and endearing. “Come see the picture I drew of you! You’re going to love it!” and “Wanna see what I made?! Take a picture – NO! A VIDEO! – for daddy to see too!”
I felt like one or the other was interrupting whatever I was trying to do every 5 or 10 minutes. It was driving me NUTS! I felt so out of control. Then it hit me.
That was it! Give them the control over staying in their rooms at quiet time.
They love putting coins in their piggy banks. I mean, really, who doesn’t? Each day I lay out 3 coins for each girl at the beginning of their quiet time. They are welcome to come out and see what I am doing, ask for help, or ask me to come see their cool Lego creation. Each time they do, they need to bring the coin with and give it back to me, like a ticket. When quiet time is over and we’ve cleaned up their activities together, any coins they have left go in their piggy banks.
The first day did not go so well. They both used up all three coins in the first 15 minutes. Then one of the girls came happily bounding out for the 4th time.
“I need to get some plain paper.”
Me: “Sure thing, just give me your coin.”
“I don’t have any left.”
Me: “Hmmm..that’s a problem I guess we can open up your piggy bank and take one out.”
Me: “So that doesn’t work for you?”
She decided to go back to her room and wait on the paper.
I love that the kids are now doing all the thinking about coming out during quiet time. They have the control, but within my boundaries, so it is working for all of us. Each time they want to come out, they have to use higher level thinking to decide if it’s worth the coin or not. It has also allowed them to channel their creativity and energy into their quiet time activities instead of trying to charm me. The result? Quiet time is usually longer than it used to be! They often aren’t ready to clean up when quiet time is over because they are so engaged in their activity. They don’t spend the money in their piggy banks, so the simple satisfaction of collecting coins in it is their big payoff right now.
The bonus is that their piggy banks are getting full, so we are going to take them to the bank and teach them about their savings account. The extra bonus for me is that I get a coin as a consolation prize when I go see a portrait of myself that looks an awful lot like an elf. :)
- They get one free pass to go potty. We learned that one the hard way.
- Once in awhile, I change it up and give them 2 coins and a sticker, a piece of parade candy, or a temporary tattoo. They love it!
- I check on them a couple times during quiet time so they can ask a question or show me something cool they are doing without using a coin.
- Having two rooms with different activity options really has helped. They take turns being in my room and their room ever other day. I moved a doll house as well as an old shelf into my room and filled it with quiet time options. You can also get plastic “under the bed bins” to hide away activities.
- I lift up quiet time as their special time to not have to share anything and play their way with no one around to bug them or mess up their stuff. Any kid with siblings loves that!
- Plenty of books are available in both rooms everyday.
- Toys that invite imagination and creative play have been the best quiet time activites. A dollhouse, Legos, Button Art, Melissa and Doug Reusable Stickers, Melissa and Doug 24 piece puzzles, a Doodle Pro, Imaginets, and Color Wonder pages have been the most popular items here for quiet time.
- A CD player is in each room with relaxing music and kid songs CDs for them to choose from. We also get books on CD from the library and put them in a bin in one room and plain library books in a bin in the other room.
Amy is a former reading and third grade teacher as well as a mother to three little girls with big personalities. She believes joy can always be found in playing, learning, and ice cream.