I was talking with my friend the other day about how she feels that she does not have any time for herself, with her 4 and 2 year old children. I recently had a son, whom is now 6 weeks old. I can understand how she feels. I know I should be napping when he’s napping and I should be napping now, but am writing this article. I procrastinated a little, but that’s another article.
After our phone conversation, I thought about how can a mom have downtime? I believe where it starts is how she can teach her children to have down time or quiet time. In my opinion, “quiet time” means the children are doing something that they may not need the mom to be with them. The children can do something on their own, and mom can have some relaxing time of her own.
Here are some ideas:
1. Explain the idea of “quiet time” first. Be brief. For instance: “ Let’s have quiet time, you can color, look at a book or do something that’s quiet, for 10 minutes. It’s mommy’s quiet time too”. This next part can be a little difficult to explain but the message to get across would be to not bother mommy unless it’s absolutely necessary. The point is to help the child/children to be able to have their own time away from mommy, learning to be independent and to have their own space.
2. Start small. Kids can handle a few minutes at a time. You want to build on it.
3. Prepare to be interrupted the first few times, if not more. Instead of getting annoyed, gently reinforce that it’s quiet time and the issue can be addressed when quiet time is over. Of course, if both kids are hurting each other then you must step in.
4. Prepare your own relaxation time by reading a book, or taking a cat nap. Let go of feeling guilty about relaxing or not always being there for your kids at every moment. The kids and you need to have some time apart, even if it’s for only 10 minutes and you are all home.
5. Enjoy what comes from having a quiet time within your family. There may be more enjoyable moments because the children are able to do things on their own, can be more calm and YOU get some downtime.
6. Get up earlier than the children. This can be hard but if for some reason the morning time is best for you to have your own time, then you will need to do that. If you are able to take a nap later in the day, when the kids go down, then it can balance it out. Yes, when children are napping, there are so many things that need to get done and I totally understand that, however, if you are complaining that you do not have time for yourself, then some different strategies need to take place.
7. Have your spouse take care of the kids when they come home from work, so that you can have your own downtime.
8. Remember that a Healthy Mommy will be better for the whole family.
Teaching children how to have quiet time can be an easy thing to do, but it needs to get started somewhere. By a little time each day, the children will understand quiet time and your family may be even more peaceful. Now, I need to go and see how much sleep I can get before my son needs to eat again!
© Copyright 2011 by Kelly Sanders, MFT, therapist in Rancho Cucamonga, California. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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