Our after lunch routine is 1.5 hours of quiet, individual, independent time.

Quiet: Quiet time has a two pronged purpose. One is rest and the other is focus. I find children get overstimulated with noise, busyness and choices. A time of quiet helps to calm things down. Unfortunately in this busy world we are not comfortable with quiet and yet it is in the quiet of the morning that our soul is restored – if we are busy busy busy we so often miss the still quiet voice of God. Helping a child get use to quiet is a good thing. (The ability to be quiet is also an issue of respect towards other people)

Individual: Our children need time where they can look after and develop their inner self and their unique self. They too may need to rest or they may take the time to develop and work on the things that are a reflection of the unique them.

Independent: Our children need to be able to do things themselves. They need to be able to entertain and teach themselves. It is important that our children are happy with themselves and their own company. This cannot be developed in a crowd – they need time alone.

So the purpose of this time is for the children to learn to rest, to focus, to process things, to learn things and to entertain themselves.

The flip side is that this is a time where I have 1.5hours of uninterrupted time for the things that I need. (The rule is the children can come and get me if there is blood and no breathing!) I may need rest or I may need to work on projects it is really up to me to determine how best to use this time. The challenge is not to waste it!

Of course our children have had to be trained towards this and they haven’t always achieved 1.5 hours. It started off with toddlers still having a day sleep, then it moved to nap time, then rest time, then reading on the bed time, and it grew from there.

Sometimes we seem to lose the skill altogether and we start a season of retraining. Daniel was at this place at the beginning of the year. He could just do 20min of focus by himself – just and it wasn’t all that consistent! So we started stretching always keeping our eyes on our purposes. I split the 20minutes he could do into two 10min blocks and taught him how to use the timer. 10 minutes of reading on his bed (he wasn’t reading reading so it is just looking at books), 10 minutes of playing with a toy he choose (this toy was taken into the bedroom at the beginning of this 20minutes.)

Once he could do 20minutes, moving from reading to playing by himself successfully, we stretched him to 30 minutes – two lots of 15 minutes. Once he could do this well we moved him to 20 minute blocks, and so forth. Now he has 3 blocks of 30minutes and he can transition from each block without me. Next year I may bump this up to 4 blocks. He is not ready to focus on one thing for longer than 30minutes.

Be Intentional

 Every week I'll email an encouragement to stay intentional and relational in all your family life.  But for now, download your set of reminder posters - posters which I've used over the years to remind me to keep my eyes and heart on what is important.

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