Quiet Time Boxes to Build Imagination

Quiet time boxes have become an essential part of maintaining my sanity as a mother. Read on to see how, and what we use for our boxes!

Nap time is definitely a part of the day that parents rely on. You either get a break, or you get to catch up on some of the household chores that have been staring you in the face all day. Either way, those couple of hours are so needed!

I also find that its invaluable to me to have some time to myself every day. Even if I’m washing dishes during it. I know a lot of you mamas get up early for some alone time, and I envy you! Alas, I cannot make myself get up earlier than my 7am toddler body slam wake up call.

Quiet Time Boxes to Build Imagination | thegrowingcreatives.com

This contains affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission for any purchases made through them.

But what do you do when your toddler doesn’t want to nap anymore? Enter: quiet time! Except, if your kids are anything like mine, they don’t want to do quiet time. So where does that leave us?

Option 1- a screaming toddler, nobody is happy. Option 2- toddler is quiet, but is also destroying their bedroom. Mom is very unhappy. Option 3- stick ’em in front of the TV, everyone seems happy, BUT….

What if there was a better option? Being that there are recommended screen time restrictions, I try to come up with other ways to entertain the kids if possible. That way, if I’m feeling exhausted or overwhelmed at the end of the day, I haven’t used up my TV time already.

So, what to do instead? Quiet time activity boxes.

Quiet Time Boxes to Build Imagination | thegrowingcreatives.com  -- quiet time box of activities

I have a box of toys set aside that Lulu is only allowed to play with during quiet time. She can choose a few items each day. She usually wants some books, a stuffed animal, and one other activity. I’ve seen others that had a box for each day of the week. Whatever works!

This helps to keep her entertained because the toys feel more special. It also allows for a much more productive time if you give them purposeful toys to play with, rather than leaving them to their own devices which will undoubtedly result in MASS DESTRUCTION.

Lulu turned 3 in January, so she’s not entirely done with napping yet, but getting there. Another reason I am so in favor of the quiet time is because it puts her in her room, playing calmly, where she can choose to take a nap if needed that day. That way there isn’t a struggle of, “OK you’re extra crabby right now, I think you need a nap.” “Nooooo I dont want to nap!!!” *crying ensues* *the neighbors dog starts barking* *in the distance, sirens*

I think I can speak for all of us when I say it’s just best to avoid that situation. If it’s still routine to have a quiet time, then you won’t have to guess as to whether they need a nap that day, and they won’t feel like they’re being punished on the days they do need one.

Here’s a list of some items we have in our quiet time boxes and others that I would love to add to our collection someday. I purposely didn’t include a bunch of homemade toys, because we just want them to be quiet dang it! Not trying to win any Pinterest Mom awards over here lol. Let the quiet time commence!!

1. Books

This is by far our favorite quiet time activity. Lulu never does quiet time without at least one book! We mainly borrow books from the library or buy them from book sales, but eventually I hope to get a beautiful collection of a classic like this one!

Quiet Time Boxes to Build Imagination | thegrowingcreatives.com -- books and scrapbook

2. Journal/coloring book

If they can be trusted with crayons or colored pencils, this can be a great way to quietly stimulate their imagination. Look for posts to come on journaling with your preschooler!

3. Toy figurines

We have these little toy horses that are only allowed during quiet time, partly because some are too small to have out when Baby Bear is around. Great time to bust out the non-baby friendly toys! We found the little horses at a garage sale, but a huge selection of animal figurines and many others can be found pretty easily!

4. Chunky Wooden Puzzles

I try to limit items that have a lot of small parts, so these puzzles are a great compromise. We have these ones, and this one. We have others as well, but these are the definite favorites.

Quiet Time Boxes to Build Imagination | thegrowingcreatives.com -- puzzles and lacing cards

5. Lacing Cards

Great way to work on those fine motor skills. The kiddos got these from grandma at Christmas last year and they love them!

6. Etch-a-sketch

My daughter loves to draw, and this way she can draw as much as she wants with no concern of a mess. This is the one we have and love, an updated version of the classic!

7. Busy Books

These are awesome and have a variety of activities to keep them entertained. There are SO many variations, and tons of tutorials to make your own!

Quiet Time Boxes to Build Imagination | thegrowingcreatives.com -- busy book

This one highlights different career ideas and has a wide variety of activities in it. Lulu plays with it a lot!

8. Sticker or Stamp Book

Seriously, why do kids love stickers so much?? Melissa and Doug have sweet sticker books that have huge selections.

9. Beads and Pipe Cleaners

Not my first choice because of the potential for beads to get everywhere. But if her room is otherwise clean (and therefore easy to spot rogue beads) then I’ll let her play with these from time to time. The pipe cleaners are fun alone, too!

10. Shape Sorters

Another way to work on fine motor skills while playing, as well as colors and shapes. We have this fun one shaped like a dump truck because Bear loooooves trucks, but this simpler one is great too!

Quiet Time Boxes to Build Imagination | thegrowingcreatives.com -- shape sorter and blocks

11. Blocks

lf your child can build without getting too rowdy and knocking them over loudly, blocks can be a great creativity builder! (Pun intended haha)

12. Skills Puzzle Boards

These are awesome for kiddos working on buckles, snaps, zippers etc. Lulu loved learning the skills included on this cute bear board.

13. Cars

My kids have SO much fun driving little cars all around. We have special ones Lulu can only use for quiet time to make it seem more fun. She loves to run the cars along the side of her bed. When my son gets to this age I imagine cars will be a main attraction for him since he is obsessed with all vehicles!

Quiet Time Boxes to Build Imagination | thegrowingcreatives.com -- dry erase learning book and cars

14. Learning mats/books

They can practice numbers, spelling, and drawing over and over again with these dry erase mats! We use this one to work on writing letters and numbers.

15. Mr. Potato Head

We recently got one of these classics and my kids are obsessed with making different faces!

16. Stuffed Animals

Lulu doesn’t really have any lovies that she needs for sleep, but she does cycle through stuffed animals that she takes everywhere with her. More days than not I hear her in bed pretending to be her stuffed animal’s mom, and doing her other quiet time activities with her beloved stuffed animal. This week it has been her monkey!

Quiet Time Boxes to Build Imagination | thegrowingcreatives.com -- scrapbook
Lulu loves looking at the scrapbook I made of her first year

17. Family Photo Album or Scrapbook

This definitely depends on how reliable your child is to NOT tear things apart. If you can trust them to look through nicely, or maybe even get a more durable album like this one to put pics in just for them, this is such a wonderful pastime.

My daughter loves looking at pictures of our family, and boy does she LOVE looking at pictures of herself haha! But really, it’s so sweet how much kids enjoy seeing pictures from when they were younger, or even pictures of you and your spouse from before they were born!

There are so many other ideas you can put in their quiet time boxes. I personally don’t use many learning activities for quiet time because I prefer to do that together. But if there’s something your child understands but could work on some more, definitely encourage them to try it while on their own during this time!

This is also a great time for them to work on their fine motor skills, especially since we aren’t right there to step in when they don’t get it right away. (Guilty!)

Pin for later!

Quiet Time Boxes to Build Imagination | thegrowingcreatives.com

For more ideas on keeping your kids entertained, check out this post on ways to use household items for play! Do you have daily quiet time boxes for your kids?


36 thoughts on “Quiet Time Boxes to Build Imagination

  1. You just explained quiet time to me in the best way. I’ve been struggling with my son (who is 3) because he’s pretty much done with nap time, but lately has been going through a growth spurt and has needed naps. I didn’t understand how to make quiet time happen without guaranteeing he’d nap every day (which I don’t want). Thanks so much!! These are great ideas!!

    1. It’s so frustrating on those days they need one because you don’t know until they’re super crabby lol! This has worked really well for us to give her the option to sleep if needed, or else just play on her own for a bit

  2. So often I need some activities to keep my little one busy while I am trying to get some work done. Thank you so much for these fun ideas! I love the lacing cards and Mr. Potato Head.

  3. This is a great list of things to include! I never thought of having a quiet time box (my oldest will be 2 in January) but I think I will start putting one together for her to play with her her little sister (7 months) still needs to nap.

    1. It’s worked out really well for us! At this point my daughter stays awake more often than not, but she still stays in her bed playing quietly for an hour or two

  4. These are such great ideas! I always figured a good way to knock out a cranky kid is to babywear them while doing chores, etc.. but I imagine they’ll rebel against that at some point! That’s when I’ll remember this post lol

    1. That’s very true, I did a lot of babywearing when my daughter was younger! Trying to get her to nap or play quietly while her little brother naps has been a different story though lol that’s when I decided to start a quiet time

  5. This is such an awesome idea! How did I not know that “quiet time” was a thing?! I’m not a mom yet, but just knowing that you can do “quiet time” and that you can set something like this up for your toddlers is incredible!

    1. Haha definitely not something I ever thought of until I had a 2.5 year old that started skipping nap time and driving me crazy!

  6. I’ve always just pushed through the painful stages when my older two kids wouldn’t nap and they eventually became nappers again….but this is interesting to me. I currently have a 2 year old that is fighting nap. I am curious….How many days a week or times a month does your daughter choose nap?

    1. So now she’s almost 4 and pretty much never sleeps during it, but she still will play/read in bed quietly for an hour or two each day! Up until maybe 3.5ish she would nap every other day or every 2 days

  7. My kids all napped when they were little (and my 10 year old still does most days) but, as a preschool teacher I appreciate these ideas! Nap times can be THE WORST!

    1. Omg that sounds amazing! My kids have often been stinkers when it comes to any sleep haha but these have worked out great for us!

  8. This is genius! I’m watching my sisters kids today and one is napping while my baby naps but the other is just trying to play quietly. It’s so hard to keep them quiet without waking the others.

    1. I hear ya! Sometimes they can get loud anyway, but having specific toys that in and of themselves don’t encourage loud behavior has been really helpful for us!

  9. This is a great idea! My little girl is 2 and more days out of the week she has started refusing her nap. I was just thinking about how I will lose my mind when that finally happens.
    Does your daughter do this stuff alone? Mine is very needy and doesn’t play or read by herself. Hopefully, by that age she will understand that she has to during quiet time.

    1. Ahh it’s so hard when they start fighting naps! My daughter is on the fence between being miss independent but also wanting everyone’s attention lol. But given the choice between staying in bed until I decide she’s tried napping for long enough, or being able to play with a few toys as long as she’s quiet, she happily chooses the quiet activities! And up until like 4 months ago (she’s turning 4 in a week), she would fall asleep most days anyway since she was already in bed and calm. Maybe it would ease your daughter into more independent play!

    1. For sure! My daughter is fully out or naps now but still plays quietly for an hour or so each day

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *