Aaaahhhh…. A little afternoon quiet, anyone?
Ok, so sometimes our kids have those days. You know the ones… “He took my toy.” “She touched me.” “They won’t let me play.”
The days when you want to lock yourself in the bathroom with a box of chocolates, a good book, and a pair of noise-blocking headphones and pretend nothing exists outside the room. But you don’t really have that option, do you, mama? No telling what those kids would do while you were hiding. You just can’t risk it.
What is a busy, loving mama to do?
Enter the basket of goodies
Hey, I have boys. And even though they are basically teenagers now, they still have moments when the rough-and-rowdy gets to be over the top. They’re a lot bigger now, too, and that means someone is going to get hurt or something is going to get broken.
Whenever the boys are having a bit of trouble getting calm, I pull out The Basket. The basket (my huge one was gifted by another homeschooling mama who fortunately didn’t see the potential!) is filled with quiet things to do. Nonfiction books on many different subjects: nature, science, camping, creating… anything I think will hold their interest. There are pencils and paintbrushes and scrap paper and sketchbooks. Glue and glitter and construction paper. Crayons and watercolors and coloring books. Even a couple of canvases to paint on.
When things get out of hand, Mama calls out, “Quiet time!” The boys go to the basket, pick an activity, and find a place on opposite ends of the room to sit. I set a timer, usually for 15 minutes, but if I (or they seem to) need more time, for half an hour. Anyone who talks during that time loses a privilege for a day: TV time, weekend game time, etc. Suddenly the house is quieter even than I would like. The boys become engrossed in their chosen activity. They calm down. (I swear, I’m not making that up.)
Here’s the cool thing. At the end of the allotted time, we gather together in the middle of the room and share. If Middle read a book about insects, he tells us something new he learned. If Littlest drew a picture of a zombie war, he explains it to us in hilarious detail. By the time we’re done, we’re all laughing and completely relaxed. No more fighting. No more stress. They are ready to coexist again.
The Quiet Time Basket is a minor miracle
I’ve used this basket for years, and it has never ceased to work. (Yeah yeah.)
Every few weeks, I add new things to the basket of goodies: Different books and whatever yummy good stuff I’ve picked up at Dollar Tree. Whatever keeps it interesting. Because it always works. Even better, when we have a long break (like summer) I use it to keep them reading and learning. They don’t even have to argue or get grumpy, I just pick a moment to call out and we head into Quiet Time. During the breaks I even take part in Quiet Time, picking an activity of my own to share with the boys.
The trick is to never make it seem like a punishment, because that’s not what it is. It’s just a little break from the stress of their day. And it works wonders, y’all. And it has worked for them since they were 7 and 9. If I had thought of it earlier, I’m positive it would have worked then, too. You Have Got to get one of these.
Give it a try and let me know how it works out.
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