Andrew and I got some time away last week (thanks, Gran and Pops!) and had a chance to evaluate our days away from the blur and the noise. One thing we noticed: our pace is non-stop. Even on Sundays. We do church, we do small group, and then we have to prep for the week ahead and somehow our Sabbath is spent.

So this past Sunday, we tried an experiment: PJ Morning.

It took a bit of prep work. I hit the library and filled a bag full of books that would tempt our kids to sit still for a long time. (And I won’t go into the tears and drama involved when I realized I spent an hour picking books and then had no library card and no way to prove our new address. Fortunately, my nervous breakdown was convincing enough that the librarian fudged the rules a little.)


We talked to the kids on Saturday night and told them we wanted all of us to rest. Not just them. US. We wanted to spend some quality quiet time on the day that God named “Sabbath” or “Rest.”

The next morning, we got up with our alarm clock  Finn and did the usual bottle routine.


Then I fixed a family breakfast. I tried to keep it simple but special. So I made oatmeal, but I made a browned butter banana sauce with brown sugar and cinnamon to put on top. The kids could also add peanut butter if they got the urge.

We sat down to breakfast together, giggled over Finn’s antics with oatmeal, and then did our clean-up chores so the kitchen was tidy again.

And then…

We divided up the books (a pile for each boy and a large stack for the girls to share) and sent the kids to their rooms. Finn went down for a nap. And then Andrew and I crawled back under the covers and slept for another hour. Well, he slept. I listened to podcasts. But I was in my bed, totally still, not being productive at all.

It was heavenly.

Then we got up, released the kids from their rooms, showered, and went to small group. We came home in time to throw together dinner and then made it to the evening service at church. (That’s a handy option to have, peeps.)

It wasn’t a perfect day. Finn’s nap in the morning didn’t last as long as it should have, he missed his afternoon nap, and I had to apologize profusely to the nursery workers at church for even daring to foist His Bitterness upon them. The girls came down a few times while we were resting to get disputes over books settled.

But it was a restful day.


We may not be able to replicate it, but I think we’d like to try. We scooped up those library books and put them away for next Sunday. I’ve heard a lot about that from my eager readers. They didn’t appreciate it. But they’re counting the days til Sunday. And there are breakfast requests to meet…

So here’s a question. What are some other ideas for encouraging a bit of quiet rest time with the kids? One that doesn’t involve screen time. (I’m not saying we WON’T use TV, but we like alternatives.) Anybody got any thoughts or suggestions????



  1. Oh sweet rest, how I long for it. Life gets busy and loud here sometime. I have 2 kids with wild personalities and 1 more on the quiet but very sensitive and emotional side, finding a balance between having a full pack activities plan day and some down time is a real challenge.

    I try to have some non messy crafts, some quiet games (puzzle, coloring) etc… ready in the closet at my reach, for those moment when I need a bit of restful quietness

  2. Puzzles, those magnet scene books (a background w/ magnet pieces to move around, think colorforms), coloring, those small peg puzzles, puzzle books/mazes for the older kids, cat’s cradle, friendship bracelets, legos, (smaller kits)

  3. LoveFeast Table says:

    Love this! We just deem some days “unplug” days, where all electronics go off. I like those days. -K

  4. We have a giant tub of LEGOs that is usually put away, but can get pulled out when the need arises. Anything put away and then rotated in will keep them busy for a couple of hours. 🙂

  5. Books on tape…Er..CD. I remember putting on headphones and escaping away to a different world for a little bit. For your boys, Adventures in Odyssey is a good one to listen to! It’s about a small town (somewhere in the USA) that teaches kids valuable lessons.

  6. Catherine Vos says:

    “Play alone time” Nature sounds on stereo, a few simple activities (more than the number of children) and the instruction that they may not share an activity, just move to one that is not being used.

  7. Charity O'Neill says:

    Legos were out of hand–so they became sabbath toys. Sometimes we will do a type of contest with legos set the timer see what we can build, then do reviews about what we built.
    Then when it is nap time for mommy and daddy, There is kids 10 commandments DVD — the kids decide based on which commandment the sermon at church was closest to. Needing more nap time they watch a veggitales based on what we struggled with during the week.
    Sunday is also great for letter/picture writing to say thank you for something, missionaries you support or what Sunday service or family devotion were about.
    Jonathan park, adventures in odyssey or your story hour are great to listen to when the kids are playing with Legos.

  8. Flannel boards, puzzles, books (our favorite), journal to draw or write in. We enjoy a quiet time on Sunday’s too. These are just ideas I’ve stored away in my mind to use as needed.

  9. My kids love listening to the Lamplighter audio books – I sometimes deem Sunday after church our sabbath rest and put the audio in the car and drive to the dairy farm to pick up milk. The kids think this is a grand adventure that last about 2 hours – the also love the baby calf cuddling while I pay and pickup milk. I don’t mind quiet driving listening to adventures, so its relaxing, especially since there is a drive through Starbucks on the way.

    Other things we’ve tried is a quiet rest time after church from 1-3, I read them a great book at the kitchen table, James Herriott or the Dangerous Journey are two huge favorites, then we have scones and tea for lunch and they head off to quiet room time with an audio book. Then my hubby and I get a 2 hour nap. I set a timer for them and they aren’t allowed out of their room unless there is blood. The little one naps from that time or plays quietly in her room with her dolls – she isn’t quiet into audio books yet.

  10. I know that snazzy red bag! 😉 That’s all I’ve got. We do books or audio books. Also, I liked Missi’s approach with her kids about resting on Sundays. I’ve got it filed away to toss out at my kids one day…

  11. Years ago, maybe three or more, I stemmed an idea I got from reading your blog that I ended up calling “Choice Time” for my then three under three, and now my four children are 2, 4, 5 and 6 years old and we still love “choice” time. It consists of quiet bedroom activities, alone, even though the boys all three share a room. They read or play with magnet scene books as mentioned above, listen to audio books or music or their own action figures/barbies for our girl. So long as I help them figure out what they will be choosing during Choice Time it is usually a very successful 30 minute respite that I used daily during the very young years when they were all under 4 and 5 years old. Now that they’re slightly older the youngest still usually nap and the older two have “choice time” for an hour giving all of us a nice time to unwind before we come back together as a loud and active group again. I vaguely remember you describing yourself sitting your children down at the dining or kitchen table while you prepared dinner or something, it was a time that they were instructed to sit still and quiet for just minutes at a time since they were pretty young but it was the practice of training them to follow these types of instructions that inspired me, I hope I am remembering this right, does it ring a bell for you too?

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