One of my friends requires her four (homeschooled) children to take an hour of “rest time” each day–even the 13-year-old. About six months ago, I decided that sounded nice, so I started working toward it. I don’t know exactly what her rules for rest time are, but here are mine:
- No crayons or writing instruments (this will probably change when he is bigger, but for right now, he can’t be trusted).
- Audio books are okay, and so is music.
- Books are fine.
- No blocks, cars, play food.
- He doesn’t have to stay in his bed, but he usually does. It’s a floor bed, so he can get out of it with no effort if he wants to.
- It lasts an hour, I don’t care if you holler or pee yourself.
- Always potty right before!
We started this very gradually. The first day, I set a timer for five minutes, and told him it would be “rest time” when the timer beeped. I took him upstairs, put on some music, left him for one minute (I set a timer), came back to check on him, left him for another minute, and then said, “Rest time is over!” Then we had a special snack and played together. The next day, each half was two minutes. I kept making it longer by two minutes every day, until we were up to 60 minutes total, with a visit in the middle. Then I started moving the “visit” later by one minute each day. Once it got to where he was up there for forty-five minutes without interruption, he started falling asleep during rest time and taking the longest naps of his life–sometimes as much as an hour and a half! Now, it’s an hour with out a visit in the middle. He listens to his Winnie the Pooh audio books, or Sesame Street songs. Sometimes we hear him singing along. Often, he falls asleep around the midpoint.
I know it’s crazy, but I think he knows that he needs that rest. He rarely resists, sometimes cheerfully announcing that it’s rest time. I still use a timer to get him used to the idea. Timers seem to help him transition well.
Now if only I could get Petra on the same schedule…in another two years, I might be able to get a cup of coffee in peace!