The Rest Time Rhythm : Holding a Space for Daily Quiet and Stillness


Afternoons can be hard when you have little ones who don’t nap anymore but really need an hour or so to recharge and be still. To be honest, I think we all need this time to decompress, reflect and let go of the day thus far. This is why the tradition of the afternoon ‘siesta’ rest still thrives in parts of Europe.

When your child is transitioning from a daytime sleep to none at all it is so important for the entire family that he is still given the opportunity to rest.

And here’s the hard truth:

He’s not going to do it on his own.

He needs a lot of handholding, guidance, encouragement and consistent modelling to get used to this new ‘quiet time’ part of his daily rhythm.

What this means is- if you, the caregiver are used to having the hour or two when your child used to nap for alone time, productivity or anything independent, you are going to have to CHANGE this part of your own daily rhythm. This time is no longer your time entirely. Not yet.

This time is now a sacred time to be quiet and still in whatever way suits your family and you need to hold this space.

Some ideas for holding the quiet time space are:

  • rest time could be as simple as reading a few books together on the couch
  • you could create a small resting area separate from the bedrooms with a little pillow and blanket on the ground
  • you could sing nursery rhymes to your child while they lie down close to you
  • playing an instrument (the lyre is beautiful) or sing lullabies in a chair or rocking chair while they rest near you
  • you could tell a story with a candle and then blow out the candle and lie down together for a rest
  • for slightly older children aged 4-5 you could put on a children’s meditation and listen to it together
  • for even older children you could listen to an audio story such as Sparkle Stories

** NOTE: Try incrementally increasing the rest time length from just 10 minutes up to 15, then 20 etc. instead of forcing the full amount of quiet time immediately 

Remember that you are trying to create some repetitive rituals around this rest time rhythm that act as cues for your child. These cues are gently nudging your children and informing her, “Now it’s time to rest”. These ‘cues’ should be done in the same order every day.

Here is ONE example of a Rest Time Rhythm:

12-12:30 p.m. – lunchtime

12:30-12:45 p.m. – clean up

12:45 p.m. – Sing a little “rest time song” such as

“Now it’s time to rest our heads. Let’s walk upstairs to see our beds. Let’s! Hold! Hands!”

Then holding hands walk up to the bedroom. {Maybe Mama also has a baby she carries up with her}

12:45-1:00 p.m. – Child lies (or maybe at the beginning sits!) on their bed, Mama sits at the end of the bed or on a chair nearby and tells a story {Maybe Mama is feeding the baby now too}

1-1:30 p.m. – Mama and child lie down together or Mama sings or hums a song while child lies down

1:30 p.m. – Rest time is finished song

“Rest time is finished, Big stretch and a yawn! Let’s head downstairs and gather our crayons. Now’s time to draw, draw, draw!”

1:30-1:45 p.m. – Drawing together quietly.

This little part of the day – the Rest Time Rhythm could be scheduled and written in many, many different wants depending on the family’s unique circumstances. The most important part of this rhythm is that it is repeated daily so that it becomes a natural and normal part of the day.

The hope is that eventually as your child grows to be 6, 7 and beyond he or she can hold this space more and more for himself and you will be able to be less involved. You might still initiate the quiet time each and every day and for it to work authentically it’s best if you yourself are doing something from a place of rest but you’re not involved in each minute of the rest time anymore. It will begin to flow on its own.

How does your daily “Rest Time” look in your home? Please share!

Meagan Wilson is a parent educator and author of the now-retired seasonal series of Whole Family Rhythms. After finishing a BA, she went on to complete her Foundations in Steiner Education and Anthroposophy at Sydney Steiner College, as well as her Waldorf Early Childhood Certification at the Rudolf Steiner Centre in Toronto. She has received her certification as a Simplicity Parenting Family Life Coach and has supported hundreds of parents to create a strong family rhythm unique to their own values and culture. She has four young children. Meagan provides resources, support and information to parents who are looking for a bridge to cross between their unique family life and their children’s (often but not always) Waldorf schools.

Leave a Comment