Remember those long, boring afternoons on road trips, where you and your siblings whined in the back seat, crankily punched each other, then whined about how you’d just been punched? Then your mom or dad would turn around and begin a 15-second reprieve with a round of The Quiet Game. But The Quiet Game wasn’t really a game — it was just being quiet! And it would never last, because it’s almost impossible for kids to not talk — especially when there’s nothing else to do. If you want kids to be quiet, you have to give them something to focus on. Something they enjoy.
If you’ve got a baby in your house, it’s all about the naps, and if said baby’s sleep patterns get messed up, so do yours. Big time. If you also have one or more older children, you’re going to need The Quiet Game 2.0 to keep them occupied during naptime. Here are three ideas to get you started.
1. Jewel Thief
This one is modeled, at least in my mind, on an old ’60s film called Danger: Diabolik!* Mostly because it’s about a jewel thief. You start the game by hiding some items in your home. Preferably in a room or rooms farthest from where the baby is sleeping. The jewels you hide should be something your kids really want to find, like treats or new toys. You could also make tickets that are good for future fun, like “One trip to the kid’s museum” or “Cake for dinner.” Just use promises that you will readily fulfill or the game will lose its magic.
Then your kids play the jewel thieves, trying to find and remove all the hidden treasures. The one rule is that they must be absolutely silent. They are breaking into the museum or palace or whatever. If you hear them at all, you catch them and take away whatever prizes they’ve found so far. This is basically a version of “If you’re quiet all afternoon, you’ll get a treat” disguised as a game. Thief costumes could really up the appeal.
*Not a family friendly movie.
2. Soft Castle Builder
You know what don’t make noise? Pillows. Some of my favorite childhood memories involve my dad and couch-cushion forts. First you need to find a picture of a castle. Choose one that has lots of features and parts.
Remove the coffee table or anything else breakable the room farthest from baby’s. Pile up as many pillows, cushions and blankets as you can get your hands on. (I sincerely hope you have a couch for sitting and climbing on, but if not, you might want to set this up in a child’s bedroom instead.) The goal is for your kid(s) to build the castle pictured, with the pliable materials you’ve assembled. If you do have more than one architect, this won’t be a silent game, but it will be a lot quieter than, say, racing toy cars down the hall or smashing LEGO buildings. And if the castle collapses, the only noise you’re likely to hear will be giggles. With a little inventiveness, you can keep kids quietly busy all naptime long.
3. Meditation & Kid Yoga
You don’t have to be a yogi to look up a few kid yoga poses online and try them out with your child. Or take some time to meditate with one another. You can make up a quiet story that involves animal poses, maybe a quiet adventure through the woods during which we don’t want to disturb that animals we are pretending to be. And, of course, any good yoga session concludes with shavasana, a period of quiet, reclined relaxation. Many a child has been known to fall asleep during this period of rest. Bonus for you, the child and your napping baby.