The Best Piece of Parenting Advice I’ve Ever Gotten


In all my years of parenting, this is the best piece of advice I’ve ever gotten: Keep nap time even after the kids stop napping.

Best. Advice. Ever. Seriously

My older sister suggested it. Her five kids watched a movie every day after lunch for 2 hours, during which time she could drink her afternoon coffee and work on whatever hobby she was into at the time. I lived with her for a year and it was a very peaceful time during the day when we could talk uninterrupted. Now that I have my own kids, I get 2 hours off parenting every day (including weekends) to help me be a better mom when I’m back on the clock.

My kids are now 6 and 8, and I’ve had a consistent quiet time since my older son dropped his morning nap. I bought him an “OK to Wake” clock and set it for 30 minutes. I’d tell him: you need to stay in your room and play or read or sleep. When the light turns green, you can come out and find me.

Once he got the hang of this (sometime between a week and a month) I raised the time to 1 hour, then 1.5, and then 2 hours. Now, between 1-3 pm every day, my two kids play together or alone, read books, snooze, or listen to music. They even program the clock by themselves now. We even take it in the car for long trips. It’s genius.

Nap Time = Quiet Time = Mom is Happy

The kids get to be unsupervised during their “siesta” on two conditions: they don’t make too much noise and they don’t come out of their rooms. They can call if they really need something, but they rarely do. Sometimes they wish they didn’t have “siesta,” but it helps recharge their introverted little bodies. And mine.

Keeping quiet time also makes homeschooling much easier. We’re done with the official lessons at 1 pm, they have quiet time until 3 pm. Then my partner takes over for science and PE from 3-5 pm so that I can work.

Quiet time is easier to implement if your kids are small (the clock also helps with premature waking), but you can still do it if you are at your wits end during COVID. If your kids need to be on the screen for school after lunch, you can implement it on weekends at least, that is, if the person you see in the mirror at the end of the day is barely recognizable to you. Good luck to all of us, parenting in the time of COVID.

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Mariana loves sandwiches best, although going 95% vegan two years ago means having traded in ham and swiss for eggplant and roasted red pepper. Her boys, Santiago (5) and Sebastian (3), agree that sliced bread is the greatest thing since sliced bread. The boys are native Spanish speakers despite the fact that neither of their parents is, which has made raising them in Spanish a labor of love. Her commitment to raising bilingual children was made possible by being a first-generation Chilean-American born and raised in New York City, and by having spent two pre-kid years living abroad in Mexico City and Salamanca, Spain. Mariana moved to the RGV in 2010 and never wants to live anywhere else. While the kids are at school, Mariana is a full-time Assistant Professor of Philosophy at UTRGV. She has written for the New York Times, Womankind Magazine, and Yahoo Parenting.


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