How I Find Quiet Time with 4 Kids

posted by Andrea | 06/15/2018

In preparation for my 33rd birthday TOMORROW, I was thinking about what I’d really love the most as a ‘birthday gift’. I sort of want a bike basket, and cheesecake is always good too! However, quiet time alone, at home, is probably one of the top things on my list!

In general, I like my environment to be very quiet… which, I suppose, is somewhat laughable considering I’m a stay-at-home-mom of 4 little children!

I never have the TV or radio on for “background noise”, I leave my phone on vibrate almost all the time, I use a quiet noisemaker or fan to block out other noises when I’m sleeping, and I could drive for hours without listening to the radio, CD’s, etc.

It’s not that I can’t handle noise, I just prefer less noise whenever possible — and although Dave almost always has some sort of music on as background noise while he grades, exercises, drives, or does yard work, he definitely prefers quiet over crazy loud as well!

I think our mutual desire for quiet is probably one of the reasons we are both fairly neat and organized as well — we don’t like the “visual noise”.

Whatever the case, an excess of quiet time is not extremely easy to come by with a baby and 3 other rambunctious little people running around all day long. Nevertheless, I regularly find ways to meet my “quiet time quota” each day — which makes for a much happier mama and a much more enjoyable day for everyone!

Here are a few ways we get a fair amount of quiet time every day… even with 4 kids!Β 

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1. We put our kids to bed very early.

I know this might not be possible for too many more years, but our children are usually all in bed around 7:00pm every night (Clara is often sleeping by 6:30).

Obviously, there are exceptions to this — if we have guests over, if we go somewhere later in the afternoon and don’t get home as early, if we’re on vacation, etc. etc. However, for the most part, we start the bedtime process by picking up the entire house/yard right around 6:00. Then we do baths/shower, PJ’s, snack and books, brush teeth, sing songs, lights out.

We have started letting Nora stay up a little later to read (or we read to her) a couple nights a week, but even still, she is always in bed by 8:00, often earlier, which leaves Dave and me with several hours of quiet time every evening!

We use this time to do yard work, fold laundry, clean out the dishwasher, pack lunches, etc. Dave does the majority of his lesson planning and grading during this time and I try to write at least one full blog post every night after the kids are sleeping. I also use this time to get groceries or work on any projects around the house and yard when necessary.

We usually go to bed around 11pm, sometimes later if we’re in the middle of something, sometimes earlier if we feel we need to catch up on sleep — either way, it’s AMAZING how much we can accomplish in this 4+ hour chunk of time every night; and the fact that it’s usually all done in relative peace and quiet is just an added bonus!

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2. We wake up before our kids.

I realize going to bed later and waking up earlier are not ideal for every personality — but they work well for both Dave and me right now.

We are usually both awake by 5:30, and since our kids stay in bed until 7:00, this gives us another hour+ to enjoy a quiet house while we get ready for the day (which really does set a positive mood for both of us.)

I laugh because Dave and I are complete opposites in the morning — he immediately makes coffee and breakfast, and then sits at the table to read, work on his computer, finish up school work, etc. After about 45 minutes of sitting quietly, he hops in the shower, quickly gets ready, and is out the door shortly after 6:30 (obviously, not during the summer!)

On the other hand, I wake up and immediately get to work. I make the bed, start a load of laundry (if it’s a day I’m doing laundry) or put dishes away that were drying over night. I get dressed, get ready, make sure everything is set for breakfast, and then I work on my computer until the kids wake up, at which point, I get breakfast going.

Not only does waking up before our kids help us to enjoy a quiet, calm start to our day, it also allows us to cross several more to-dos off our lists and be completely “ready for the day” before encountering any noisy interruptions.

NOTE: even as a morning person, there were YEARS of my life when I slept in as long as my babies let me. I didn’t wake up even 1 minute before I absolutely had to. It wasn’t ideal for my productivity, but it was necessary for my sanity!

If you are in that season of life, definitely do not feel the need to wake up early! There are other ways to find productive and quiet hours in your day — just enjoy your sleep!

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3. We have specific times when the kids play by themselves.

As we’ve added more children to our family, and as our children have gotten older, they have become better and better at playing together and entertaining themselves for longer periods of time (hallelujah!)

As I’ve mentioned before, parenting 4 children has actually felt much easier for me than when I just had 1 or 2… and the fact that they can now entertain themselves is one of the main reasons why.

I am no longer required for EVERY SINGLE THING they do. They can get all their own toys out, they can get their own shoes on and go outside whenever they want, they can go to the bathroom without my help, and they can come up with their own ideas for fun. Plus, now when Nora is home, she even takes the initiative and reads to the boys on occasion… it’s glorious!

I’m not exactly sure when all of this started, but we are now to the point where the older 3 kids go upstairs or outside to play (without an adult) after every meal — which means I can clean up the kitchen in peace!Β 

Since none of the older kids nap anymore, I use this time (specifically the time after lunch) to load the dishwasher, put leftover foods away, wipe down tables and counters, sweep up crumbs, prep food for the next meal, refill water bottles, and leave my kitchen looking neat and clean.

Of course, I love the fact that my kitchen is clean most of the day, but I also thoroughly enjoy that 20-30 minutes of quiet time to clean up, think through the rest of my day, and get ready for the next meal. I usually also enjoy a little dessert or sweet treat, all by myself, after lunch. It’s my reward for making it through half the day! πŸ™‚

Again, I know this exact scenario won’t work for every family or every age of child, but if you can come up with a small chunk of time (preferably in the middle of the day) when you aren’t 100% responsible for entertaining your child(ren), I’m positive it will work wonders if you’re the type who needs a little more quiet time.

Maybe your younger children still take naps and you can turn a TV show on for your older children, or maybe you could hire a neighbor kid to come over and play with your children after he/she is home from school.

Even just 20-30 minutes of time you know you can count on and plan for can be SO helpful — especially if the rest of your day is fairly loud and chaotic!
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4. We have very quiet hobbies.

In general, we don’t willingly do many loud or crazy activities — that’s just not what we’re interested in right now.

The time will come when our kids are much more involved in sports, music, and other extra curricular activities, but for now, we choose not to do any of that.

I spend most of my extra time working in the yard, cleaning or organizing something, working on my digital photo books, cooking or baking, watching a Netflix movie, or reading — all of which are very quiet activities.

Dave enjoys reading, running, yard work, and watching sports on TV in his spare time (and the TV volume is always very low!)

We rarely go out in the evenings, and we’d rather invite just a few couples over than entertain a huge group.

The fact that we know and accept this is very helpful for creating more quiet in our days. We know ourselves enough to say “no” to activities and commitments that will be loud or crazy (especially if we already have a lot going on that day).

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5. We make quiet time a priority.

As with almost everything in life, it’s easier to achieve something if you make it a priority.

Dave and I know it’s very important for both of us to have plenty of quiet “down time”, so we’re pretty intentional about carving out time for quiet activities each day.

Whether it’s making time for exercise, reading, writing, family activities, running a business, working outside the home, spending time with friends, entertaining, or finding a few moments of peace and quiet each day, you will be more likely to make something happen in your life if you simply make it a priority.

If Dave and I are not intentional about getting our kids to bed on time, setting our alarm to wake up early, saying ‘no’ to people and activities we know will cause us to feel frazzled and stressed, we will end up being grouchy and grumpy because we aren’t getting enough quiet in our days.

On the flip side, if we prioritize some quiet time into each day, we are both so much happier, we respond better to each other and our children, we handle the rest of our day much easier, and we are even much more productive!

Do you need quiet? If so, how do you find those moments each day?

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30 comments

  1. Debbie

    01/15/2019

    Quiet time and self-care is the best birthday gift to give yourself in my opinion. With the busyness of life and work our mind, body, and soul needs peace and quiet. I also like time at home, maybe not in total quiet but with a quiet music in the background while I cook, do some stuff on the computer, etc. I hope you get your quiet time for your birthday tomorrow, Andrea. I’ve already got my birthday planned out for March, hahaha. Self-care is on top of the list with time off from work, maybe a massage, facial bought from Groupon, and quiet rest at home.

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  2. Candis Gannes

    06/18/2018

    I feel as if you were writing this post for me. I absolutely need quiet and if I don’t get quiet time early in the morning or right before bed I feel very stressed. There are also periods of time where I avoid any loud of high energy activities or events because I feel exhausted afterwards.

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  3. Kelly Hess

    06/18/2018

    I adore quiet! When I get home from work, my husband always has music on for background noise. I have to turn it off just so I can think. I would much rather have it quiet then a bunch of stuff going on!

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  4. Shelly

    06/16/2018

    I am again reminded how much we are alike (I feel like I could have written this post!) We often put our kids to bed around 6 or 6:30 when they were little, and so many people thought we were crazy! It worked for us (my husband goes to work early at 6 am and therefore gets home earlier, too!) and we found that our kids actually slept longer when they went to bed earlier! Now, they did often wake before 7, but they did that even when they stayed up “late” (for various reasons!) We had a rule that they had to stay in their bed until 7, and they learned that number very early! πŸ™‚ Now, they are all tween/teenagers, and I miss that schedule we had when they were younger! They all gravitate toward later bedtimes (as most teenagers do) and because we home school, they have the luxury of “sleeping-in” til 8 or 8:30, so I often let them stay up “late” (until 10 or so) but my dear hubby can not usually make it up that late! As a night owl, I try to take advantage of this later evening time to talk to my boys one on one, or just enjoy reading or crafting by myself. I am wondering if you have read any of the books about introverts or HSP’s (Highly Sensitive Persons). Susan Cain wrote a book called Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, and Elaine Aron wrote a book called The Highly Sensitive Person (and also The Highly Sensitive Child)- all of which are great reads (and I find they help answer some questions about myself and how to best take care of myself. I think you might enjoy any (or all) of them! I hope you have a great birthday!!!

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    Andrea Reply:

    I have read a couple of those books, but I might have to look into others.
    Thanks again Shelly!

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  5. Iliana

    06/16/2018

    Happy Birthday Andrea!! Hope you have a great and quiet day

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  6. Michelle

    06/15/2018

    Happy Birthday!!! 33 is good, I think you’re going to love it!

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    Andrea Reply:

    thanks Michelle — it was a good day! Hopefully it will be a good year!

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  7. Sherry

    06/15/2018

    Hi Andrea. I have always found your posts highly relatable (I swear I could have written some of them, too) but this one in particular, spoke volumes to me. While I am quite a bit older than you with one grown child, I used to be married to an extrovert who always had to have people around or noise on .. music, a fan, a TV or the dang lawn mower LOL. Drove me nuts. My career is very intensive (HR .. constant people) and I learned a long time ago how to find my balance and my quiet (being a staunch introvert). To this day, even though my house is quiet, I still keep those habits of rising early, quiet in the house and knowing how to separate my professional and personal lives for the sake of my sanity. I also believe in ‘no’ being a complete sentence and long ago let go of any guilt of possibly letting people down for the sake of my need for quiet or space. Actually, people respect it! Good for you, Andrea. Have a wonderful birthday!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, people DEFINITELY respect when I say “no” confidently and without shame or guilt (and since we basically think the same thoughts, it should be no surprise to you that I wrote a post about this exact topic!)

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  8. Susie Wilcox

    06/15/2018

    Happy Birthday! I also enjoy the quiet time in my house versus my husband who always has the tv on. That’s why we have separate hang out rooms!
    On another note, I still cannot open your site on my IPad or IPhone, but can on my laptop. Hope this gets fixed soon as I don’t use the laptop like I do the others.

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    Jenny Reply:

    Looks fine on my iPhone and iPad.
    Happy Birthday, Andrea! I live reading your blog!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for letting me know Jenny!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Susie!
    I wonder if you should try clearing your browsing history and refresh my site again — it seems to be woking much better for most people now that we’ve made some changes.
    Thanks!

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  9. Maria

    06/15/2018

    Happy 33rd B-day Andrea ! I’m also a morning person and am awake at 5:30. I begin the day by doing bible study (for about 30 minutes) as this helps me start the day on a positive note. I also do laundry, exercise and shower. Sometimes I’ll water the vegetable garden or do a little yard work as I find this chore energizes me for the rest of the day. This is a priority as I babysit my 3-year old grandson (who is very active and fills my day with joy) 5 days a week and so I need a lot of energy just to keep up with him!

    In the evening (from about 6:00 to 10:00) I usually like to read, catch up on my “to do list”, cook or bake or just call a friend and chat.

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    Andrea Reply:

    It was a hard few years for me when I just couldn’t get up early enough for my liking (because Nora was up ALLLLLLLL night long). Now that I’m back to sleeping through the night, it’s SO nice to wake up early and start my day before everyone else!

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  10. Dawn

    06/15/2018

    I love the idea about “visual noise”! That is very true! It’s so hard to concentrate when the house (or kitchen!) is a mess. Wonderful post as always!

    Happy Birthday!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Dawn πŸ™‚

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  11. LEANNE

    06/15/2018

    yes… I get up around 5:30 every morning… I have bible quiet time and coffee… when my kids were little, I let them watch PBS, while I read on the internet and got ready for the day…. now that they are in school, and I work part-time, I use my time to start laundry, catch up on email, or prep something I need for school…
    I also use running for quiet time… I never run with music…I do run on a treadmill, but the TV is on closed captioning….
    I often drive without noise….I don’t like “visual noise” either… in fact, when we moved I removed a lot of visual noise and I love it!!
    I know one day, I will miss the “noise” of my boys…but, hopefully, I’ll get some little grandkids to fill that void…and when they are too noisy, I can send them home πŸ™‚

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    Andrea Reply:

    Dave and I alway say that we’ll keep getting up early even in the summer (but then we never do and I always regret all the quiet time I miss). So this summer, I’ve been getting up between 5:00 and 5:30 every morning so far, and it’s AMAZING how much I get done!!

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  12. JJ

    06/15/2018

    I love that you reward yourself; I do, too! Haha! I am a LOUD person by nature, but ironically I love quiet. I am an ambivert. I recharge around my favorite people not just any people. I need to recharge in a quiet environment and have always been that way. When my older two are doing room time while my youngest naps, I almost never have background noise. My husband who is extremely introverted always has background noise. When we were first married, I loved coming home after teaching all day with kids talking. All. Day. Long. and just hear nothing as I made dinner and cleaned. My husband turns on the TV or music right away when he comes home, and he couldn’t understand how someone so loud and noisy like I am could want quiet. Haha!

    I also get up early(for work), and we also put our kids to bed early(7:30/8). I think that helps so much! I never realized what a luxury it was until a friend with older kids said she misses those days of having time at night. Even as a teen my parents always went to bed after I did. Haha!

    Happy 33rd Birthday!!! Your blog is a gift to your readers!!! I hope you get your bike & basket and a quiet chunk of time at home by yourself!!!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much! I hope I get my bike basket and cheesecake too — I might just have to buy it myself though πŸ™‚

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  13. Michelle

    06/15/2018

    Happy 33rd birthday, Andrea!

    I hope you have a great day doing things you love with all your favorite people and this birthday is a memorable one for you.

    Thank you for all you do and sharing with us!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Michelle!

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  14. Annaleah

    06/15/2018

    As an introvert with 6 pretty extroverted kids, I do a lot of the same things you do: get up early, put my kids to bed early, have quiet hobbies, stay home most of the time, etc. The biggest thing that has helped me, though, is to have a dedicated “rest time” after lunch every day for the kids that don’t nap. I’ve done this ever since my oldest stopped napping, and it is a must for our family, not just for me, but for my kids, too. Everyone picks a quiet activity and a spot in the house (we have a small house, so some kids are in the same room), and everyone plays or reads on their own for an hour and a half. I get quiet time to finish up chores or read, and the kids get a chance to rest and have some alone time. This can be a bit of a challenge for the kids that are especially extroverted, but I think it’s important for them, too. You would think that kids that don’t nap wouldn’t need rest in the middle of the day, but I notice a big difference in behavior on days that we miss our rest time for some reason. Having a rest time is my biggest tip for stay at home moms, especially introverts!

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    JJ Reply:

    We do the same! It really helped my middle child who doesn’t do well with others touching her stuff and being in her room. She loves having that time alone to play. She is introverted, so it helps me to hear her talk to her dolls and play. She is learning to share with me, but on the days doesn’t I hear her and can get glimpses as to what is going on inside her sweet head.

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    Andrea Reply:

    wow — that’s fantastic! They occupy themselves alone for over an hour! Our kids play really well TOGETHER, but I think it would be tricky to keep them all apart. It’s something I’d like to implement though — maybe we’ll work on it this summer. I do think they could all benefit from a little quiet time on their own.

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  15. Luba @ Healthy with Luba

    06/15/2018

    Andrea,

    I love quiet too! One of my room mates in college and I did not speak to each other til after 6 am (devotions). It was blissfully quiet!

    We are like you and Dave. My husband wakes up and has quiet time right away while I head to the kitchen right away. He does wake up about an hour before I do.

    I stay home to have quiet. πŸ™‚

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  16. Chris

    06/15/2018

    Happy Birthday! As an FYI our Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market has huge, single pieces of cheesecake they can box up for you for about $1.99. Always good information to pass along. LOL!

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    Andrea Reply:

    thanks Chris!! And I’ll have to check out the cheesecake at Wal-mart! I know there are some restaurants that will box up cheesecake for pickup, but not for $1.99!!!

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