Part 3 in the series "My Best Homeschool Strategies." Click here for Part 1 and/or Part 2.
3. A Siesta: Nap time is for EVERYONE. Every. One.
I started doing this over seven years ago, when my 8yo was a baby and I just had three children. I would send my older two to their rooms for quiet time (reading, drawing, Legos was okay but keep down the "swishing"), and I would take the baby for his nap. The rules?
1. Absolute Silence. I mean--literally, I want to be able to hear that pin drop. On carpet.
2. Solitude. No playing together. I wanted this time, for my older ones, to grow into a habit of taking time for personal prayer, study, and reflection.
3. Phones off.
Oh! What sanity I discovered in this! This little break in the middle of the day is such an amazing "reset" button. When we would all come back together after our "siesta," it was like getting a second start to the day--a second morning! Refreshed, renewed, ready for round two!
Nobody else I knew did this, but I didn't care. It worked. Beautifully. Let everyone else keep chugging away in their chaos, stress-filled days. Not me.
But I was completely gratified when I went to a homeschool convention and heard a talk by Susan Wise Bauer on her top homeschooling tips, and this was one of them! Glorious confirmation. (I think I stuck my tongue out at my friend--on this point, as well as her "no co-ops" point, which I will cover later).
Now, seven years and many children later, we still do this. I put my newborns onto this schedule "right out of the gate." (haha). I mean, newborns need snoozes all the time. I let them nap when they need it, but at our nap time (1:00), I always schedule a feeding just before and if they don't go to sleep, I have my swing ready to train them to relax at this time.
My friends and family know not to try to call. If I answer the phone any time near 3:00, I usually hear first, "Did I wake you?" or "Is it nap time?"
When my littles outgrown their naps, they graduate to "movie nap." I let them build a little "nest" of their favorite pillows, blankets, bean bag, stuffed animals, and pick a favorite movie. When they are about age 7, they are responsible enough for independent time--they can color, read, play Legos (no "swishing"), play Leap Frog. But the rule is "silence." I don't even want to hear footsteps (old farmhouse--footsteps can disturb everyone).
The past 8 years, when I haven't been pregnant and/or nursing, I have been chronically ill. A lot of these siestas, I nap, too. Like a dead person. But some days I "snooze" or just lie still and breathe deep for about 15 minutes, then I read, pray, write a blog post, write a letter or email.
In any case, talk about the anti-stress trick! This is amazing. It's like I live a life of two 6-hour days when the rest of the world lives one long 15 hour day. Folks, 6-hour days are sooooo much more manageable.
And rested kids are happier kids (you know you know this). They are more focused. They learn better. They listen better.
Rested moms are happier, too.
Does any of this sound good?
My 19yo and 14yo still join in with us for this if they are home--and they have come to love the quiet time as much as I do.
Nap time forever.