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Why Your Child Shouldn't Give Up Rest Time...At Any Age

It was a hot summer's day. We had all been at the library for a summer reading program. My children ranged in age from five to eleven, and we all enjoyed the fun plays, musicians, and performers during the summer.

We headed home hot and tired where I got a quick lunch together. We had eaten lunch and cleaned up, and I was pretty worn out from the morning's exertions. Thankfully, the kids all knew automatically what came next- Rest Time.

I often had friends stare at me in amazement when I told them that my kids who were five and older still had Rest Time. But there were a few who knew exactly why we kept Rest Time as a sacred time on our schedule.

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Somehow, the idea arises that when a child outgrows falling asleep during the day, we give up Rest Time. But in our house, Rest Time was never about when a child would naturally fall asleep. It was a scheduled part of our family routine from the time my first infant was born.

I wasn't a structured, routine parent in many ways. I nursed on demand. I carried my children in a sling. I slept with my kids. But I also made Rest Time a priority. When the kids were babies and toddlers, they did sleep during rest time- sometimes with me and sometimes alone. As they grew older, Rest Time changed. During seasons of our lives, we've been busier, and we have had to change how Rest Time happened. But even today with children that range from ten to sixteen, we have a version of Rest Time in our house as often as we can.

What's so important about Rest Time? Why do you need to keep it up even after kids don't regularly nap during that time? And how can you keep Rest Time going smoothly in your family even as the kids grow older?

Importance of nap time

What is Rest Time?

So, what do I mean when I refer to Rest Time? (Notice the capital letters because it's an important thing?) Rest Time can mean napping. When my children were babies and toddlers, that's exactly what it meant. I would try to keep them awake until 2pm each afternoon. Then I would lay them down or lay down with them.

As the kids grew older, Rest Time more often meant playing quietly in your room with books or small toys. Occasionally it meant watching a video and laying on the couch.

As time passed and kids had more independent school work, Rest Time usually meant quietly finishing work that was done independently before settling in to a quiet activity.

I try to actually rest during Rest Time. When the kids were younger, this was because I had been chasing little people all day, and I needed some quiet alone time to just rest. Now it's because I have health issues that make it hard for me to keep on all day without some kind of physical rest. I also have typically used Rest Time for reading my Bible or doing any kind of Bible study I may be involved in at the time. And I'll confess that during my Rest Time now, you'll often find me curled up with a coloring book and colored pencils to have some relaxing coloring time- a great stress reliever for me.

What's so important about Rest Time?

I have often been asked this question. Sometimes people just don't understand why I try to keep one to two hours set aside in the afternoon for Rest Time. When the kids were little, we often left activities in order to be home from two to four. Or I was careful when planning activities with friends to keep some time set aside in the afternoon for Rest Time.

There are several reasons I think Rest Time is very valuable- for the kids, for me, and for the family.

~ I need Rest Time. I'll just be honest. I'm an introvert, and being around people all day drains me. Now, on top of the needs of an introvert, I have health issues that drain me physically. I need Rest Time. Even if I don't actually nap, I need the quiet time- time when I'm not working; I'm not teaching; I'm not doing housework; I'm not answering my 30,000th beckon of "Mooooom!". I just need to rest.

~The kids need to regroup. Some of my children are introverts and some are not. The ones who are share my need to just get away from people for awhile and be quiet. The ones who aren't still need some brief time to regroup during the day. No one does well with a constantly busy pace. It may feel exhilarating for a time- if you're an extrovert. But eventually, whether you like it or not, your body needs rest. All of my children have always functioned better if they had at least a short time to just be still.

~Time alone encourages creativity. When the kids were young, I worked hard to make sure everyone was split up during rest time. As they grew older, and the house seemed smaller and smaller, this changed, and I really left it up to the kids to be alone or not. Most of them choose at least some time alone.

This time alone without other stimulation encourages creativity. With younger children, I didn't allow any electronics during rest time. This has shifted as they've gotten older. But when they are quiet and still without much else to choose from, they can become creative. That's the time when detailed pictures have been drawn, elaborate Lego structures have been built, puzzles have come together. When kids are constantly being entertained with screens or with other kids, they don't have the space to think creatively. Having a quiet time alone encourages kids to think creatively.

Nap time for older kids

How can you keep Rest Time happening in your family?

I'll offer a little disclaimer here. I know that keeping my older kids resting in the middle of the day has been much easier because we homeschool. If you have children in traditional school, you might be forced to give up Rest Time when they enter school full time. I would recommend that you still have a type of Rest Time when they get home from school if possible. Give them forty-five minutes to do nothing- no homework, no screens, no going outside with friends. I taught elementary school before I had children, and I know that kids need that time to decompress whether they think they need it or not- especially introverts.

If you are homeschooling or if you have preschoolers who are trying to outgrow napping, here are some ways to keep a Rest Time for your family.

~Make it a priority. This is true when the children are infants and when they are elementary-school aged. Your children won't have a regular Rest Time if you don't stick consistently to doing it every day. If it is hit or miss when you can fit it into the schedule, it isn't going to become a part of the routine.

When my children were elementary-aged and younger, I held Rest Time sacred. I turned down playdates. I left parties. I didn't schedule afternoon activities before 4pm. It worked for us. My kids felt better and behaved better in the evening. I felt better and had the energy to make it through the demands of dinnertime and nighttime activities. It was worth it.

~Keep it routine. If Rest Time is important, but it is never at the same time during the day, kids will balk more. Routines help things to flow more smoothly. We always had the routine of 2pm-4pm (give or take thirty minutes). They knew to expect it. Every. Day.

I've had friends laugh when I told them my middle schoolers still had Rest Time. Then they asked me how I accomplished that. My answer? "I never stopped." We kept the routine going, and everyone just expected Rest Time as a part of our routine.

~Provide Rest Time activities. While kids need alone time to encourage creativity, they also need a little guidance to discourage destructive activity. Leave a three year old alone with nothing specific to do and come back to all your kids' baby teeth dumped out into the floor. (It's a long, but true, story.) Give kids quiet toys during Rest Time- blocks, puzzles, drawing supplies. Play music or audio books. Occasionally use a video during Rest Time. If kids have special things that they look forward to for Rest Time, they'll look forward to Rest Time more.

Audible is an awesome way to get great audiobooks for rest time. Even though my kids don't listen to audiobooks as much now as when they were younger, I still enjoy listening to audiobooks at my Rest Time.


Keeping Rest Time is important at any age- even for moms. If you make it a priority and routine for your family, you'll see the good results.

Do you still have Rest Time in your family? What does it look like in your family?


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