Monday, September 19, 2011

Preschooler Room Time

The day my son stopped taking naps was a sad, sad time in our house.  He went from taking a solid two hour nap in the afternoons to absolutely Nothing!  Those first couple of days of adjustment saw a lot of tears shed, both his and mine.  I just wasn't ready to give it up.  He might have been, but Mama was holding strong.

So one day we struck a compromise.  He didn't have to sleep, but he did have to spend some time playing quietly in his room.  Luckily, he went for it.  Since then afternoon quiet time has been a part of our daily routine.  Depending on the age and need of the child, it's adjusted from time to time, but faithfully every afternoon, we have room time for the sanity of the entire family.  Why is room time important?

*Room time provides a break in stimulation-- Room time gives everyone a break.  Mommy gets a chance to catch up on housework, work out, think her own thoughts, while everyone else gets a break to be creative, read a book, give their brains a rest, catch a nap.

*Room time gives space to be creative--When everyone is in their own space (whether their room or a quiet corner of the house), they have a chance to play quietly.  Noah especially loves this break when he can play with legos without little hands interrupting or crayons and markers without a someone scribbling on his drawing.

*Room time resets everyone for the evening-- Room time resets all our relationships before the harried time of dinner.  It gives us a chance to play, or be, indepently before we all come back together.  I've found my kids get a long better when they have a chance to reset in the afternoon.  Then they're more refreshed for coming back and playing well together.

But how do I make Room Time work?

*Provide a physical barrier-- When I was first training my son in Room Time, I put up a baby gate as a physical reminder that he was to stay in his room until Mommy came and got him.

*Start the time slowly-- At first he was resistant to the time and wanted to immediately come out.  So we built up our time slowly.  For 3-4 days, it was a chunk of 15 minutes.  Another 3-4 days increased to 25 minutes.  For the preschool age, I would work up to 45 minutes to a hour.  My almost 6 year old will do Room Time now for almost a hour.  Some days longer if he really gets caught up in a project.

*Rotate special toys-- In the early days of training, I would rotate certain special toys that only came out during Room Time: special puzzles, certain books, a particularly imaginative toy.  Keeping toys "fresh" keeps the child interested and engaged for longer periods of time.  Plus it keeps their imaginations turning with new ideas.

*You decide when Room Time is over--  Do not allow your child to decide when Room Time is over. If you're finding that they are ready to return to normal play sooner than you are, readjust your expectations and build on your time more slowly.  But if they are coming out without your permission, return them to their room, wait a minute or two, and then YOU be the one to end Room Time.  This is training.  It will take time.  Don't exasperate your children, but be a trainer.

This is just a tool that's helped us in our home.  We love Room Time around here and are so happy for this accidental discovery.  Hopefully it will help you too.

How do afternoons run in your family?

*Linked to Weekend Bloggy Reading


hawkeyejlp said...

We re-instituted this over the summer, billing it (her name)'s Hour--she is 6. I set the oven timer for an hour and she has to stay in there and entertain herself while I maintain my sanity. Now that we're both back in school, we use it on weekends as needed. Works for us!

Amy said...

Great idea to link up.. Mine little one gave naps up a long time ago.. Sad day of course. She does go in her room for a little while.. I still think somedays she needs a nap..

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