Monday, March 3, 2008

Quiet time dilemma

When D stopped napping sometime late last summer (or early fall?), I thought I was pretty cool by instituting "quiet time". It happened rather naturally, and at first I thought it was going to be easy to keep going. Some days he'd nap, and other days he wouldn't; so on the days he didn't, I left him in his room to play for an hour or so. That just naturally shifted into quiet time each day, as he napped less and less. For a while, it was easy. He'd go in without much protest, stay in his room for a good while and play more or less quietly.

Then it occurred to him that he could leave his room.

Ever since then I've waged an ongoing battle to preserve quiet time. I've tried lots of things with varying degrees of success. For a while if he cooperated with quiet time it meant we'd go out and ride his big wheel afterwards (but wouldn't if he didn't). Then the weather got bad and that died out. We've done other rewards, sticker charts, time outs, etc. Sometimes quiet time goes ok for a while. But sooner or later, I'm back to fighting with him over it.

He whines about it after lunch ("I don't want quiet time today!"), he resists going upstairs, he comes up with a million reasons to stall ("I need all my books on my bed... I need a drink of water..."). Once he's in there he'll often resort to yelling for me, then crying when I don't come. If I do go in, he asks for one thing after another until I pry myself away again. He'll come out of his room repeatedly ("I need to give you hugs!"), or lie in his doorway with his door open and cries. He'll lie on the floor of his room and kick his door or kick the wall, waking up his brother in the process.

For a while now I've been debating whether quiet time is worth the trouble anymore. The problem is, I can't help but feel like he and I are locked in this battle of wills and I MUST win; like if I don't win, he's going to learn a big lesson in "if I'm super duper stubborn, eventually things go my way". He's so like his father...

Last week I decided to resurrect the sticker chart, which worked so well with pottying. It half worked, I'd say. He had a couple decent quiet times and a couple not so decent ones too. He did a lot of things like coming out of his room after 2 minutes saying he had to go potty, but asking, "Is quiet time all done?" over and over until I ushered him back to his room. And then the shenanegins really got going - the yelling, kicking the door, etc.

I guess I'm at the point where I want to give up on it, but I'm afraid to let him win. Perhaps I'm overthinking it (ok, I'm certainly overthinking it), but I worry that he's going to become that much more stubborn and persistent towards me if I do away with quiet time.

Plus, if I'm really honest with myself, I was pretty pleased with myself for making the transition from naps to quiet time at first and I felt a little smug about it. I doubt (hope?) that I ever said something to anyone that made that too apparent. It isn't as if I've been boasting about my spectacular parenting skills to other moms. Hey, look at how great I'm doing, I get my three year old to have quiet time in his room every day... But still, I think I expected that if I just make it routine, it would work and give me at least a small break everyday.

The truth is, and I had to explain this to my husband like three times, as things are, I don't get a break. He doesn't stay quietly in his room and leave me be while G takes his afternoon nap. I end up spending most of the time shooing him back to his room, or trying to get him to be quieter, etc. It's stressful and annoying.

On the other hand, I think (in theory at least) quiet time is a good idea. I think he still needs some downtime. I'm just not sure how to make it happen. As things are, it isn't working very well.

I'm still not sure of the best thing to do. Today, I didn't do quiet time. He watched a movie while I put G to bed and showered and now he's playing with play dough. I don't want to fall into the habit of letting him watch a movie every afternoon; I feel like I let him watch too much TV as it is. But I need to figure out a way to keep him occupied while I get a few things done. You know, shower off my workout sweat so I don't stink, have a bite of lunch, check my email and message board... The essentials ;).


Pamela said...

Have you tried an egg timer?? Maybe that would help him understand how long quiet time needs to be?
I hope you get some time to yourself!

Claire said...

You know, a timer isn't a bad idea! I tried it today and it worked pretty well. We'll see how it goes the rest of the week. Thanks!

Pamela said...

Glad it helped. Hope it continues for you and your son!