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My Quiet Time Bag o' Tricks

Maggie Cheung

My three-and-a-half-year-old has recently concluded that napping is only for Grandma's house. It's truly unpleasant, not least because Grandma's house is the one place where I don't CARE if he naps. I can't FORCE him to sleep (not for lack of trying!) so I've given up on my practically guaranteed two hours of afternoon alone time. Goodbye, Alone Time! I MISS YOU SO!

In the meantime, the boy and I are navigating this new napless world. And by 'navigating' Jack means 'trying to cram in as much naughty fun as possible' and I mean 'trying not to put the child out on the corner with a Free To A Good Home sign around his neck'. On a typical day I'll put Molly down and let Jack mess around on the computer. He has the Fisher Price Cool School toddler keyboard that I would highly recommend if I didn't suspect it was being phased out for something bigger and better. He's also become pretty adept with the mouse and is fully capable of playing nearly every game on the website. This, of course, makes his computer nerd parents' hearts go pitter pat. However! We don't want him to play the computer forEVER and, honestly, Jack gets tired of it after a half hour or so. So then I coax him into his bed for "a little rest". And this is where everything gets wonky because he never falls asleep anymore, and is now saying things like, "I just going to take a TINY rest." FINE THEN. 

So then we have an hour (or three!) of battling over where he's allowed to play and what he's allowed to do. Sometimes I am feeling optimistic and we do something together. Sometimes I have to write something or pay some bills or other grown up stuff and I need him to stay out of my hair. And sometimes I am just TIRED and I want to be left ALONE. I'm allowed! But there's no routine, nothing works, and our afternoons often devolve into cranky, crabby shouting matches on both sides. "Stay in your room!" "But I all doooooooone!"

Enter the Quiet Time Box. I knew I needed fun stuff for Jack to do (and do ON HIS OWN) during quiet time, so I picked my genius (and former first grade teacher) mother's brain. She suggested finding a box or cupboard that was just Jack's and just for Quiet Time, then fill it with a slew of fun and entertaining stuff he can do on his OWN. It took me a week or two to amass all these items, but here are the inaugural Quiet Time Box goodies:


  • coloring books and crayons 
  • giant cardboard dominoes
  • pipe cleaners
  • Hello Kitty erasers
  • a leftover pack of card stock from my scrapbooking days
  • ribbon
  • stickers
  • Elmo sticky notes
  • notepads
  • pens
  • dice 
  • memory card game
I also ordered a few flash cardy games from his preschool book order, but they haven't arrived yet. Most of these things I found in the Target dollar section and clearance aisles, the Ross toy section, and my old tool box full of art supplies that I'm pretty sure I haven't opened since I had kids. In other words: free, or dirt cheap. 
I introduced the Quiet Time Box yesterday and LO, there was peace upon the house. It was actually pretty amazing, folks. I'm thinking that's because it was a whole heap of NEW stuff, right? He played his computer, had his fifteen minutes of rest and then played with the stuff in his Quiet Time Box for an hour and a HALF. That's a win in my book. Today he asked for his Quiet Time Box first, and still went for over an hour. Amazingness! 
I'm not sure how long the novelty will last, but that is why I shot for free and dirt cheap - when he gets tired of this stuff it won't be horrible to replace those things with new stuff. My mom also suggested little tiny plastic toys you can find at the dollar store, like army men or farm animals, and then pointed me towards a couple of homeschooling websites where I can print out all kinds of worksheet activities. The interest level will hopefully remain high! 
How have you dealt with the Disappearance of the Nap? I highly recommend the Quiet Time Bag o' Tricks. I am not responsible, however, if your child spends Quiet Time cheerfully coloring his fingernails blue with the brand new markers. I'm just saying.