Mama’s Coffee Break

Once the babies became mobile, I attempted “Pack ‘n’ Play” time.  It is a Babywise concept that I’ve seen my cousins implement beautifully with their singletons for years.  In fact, Jennifer, wrote a fantastic, easy to follow explanation of how to integrate it into a daily routine. With four babies, it became a challenge.  At first, I simply added a Pack ‘n’ Play to our morning “rotation”.  I put one baby in the Pack ‘n’ Play with novel toys, one in a Jumparoo, one in an Exersaucer, and the fourth enjoyed individual time with me.  Every 10-15 minutes, I rotated the babies to a new station so they all got to experience each activity.  It wasn’t exactly the same as I’d seen my cousins use Pack ‘n’ Play time, but it worked relatively well.  That was, until the quads learned to walk.  At that point, when one baby was in the Pack ‘n’ Play the others either whined to join them or the contained one wailed to escape.  I then nixed the notion of Pack ‘n’ Play time.  After all, the concept was to promote independent play while allowing mom a bit of time to accomplish other things.  That was not happening.  It became more of stress, and I hated keeping a giant Pack ‘n’ Play set up in our already cramped quarters.  About a month ago, I folded up our Pack ‘n’ Play and stuffed into the boys’ closet.

Ideally, Pack 'n' Play time would look like this, with each of the quads taking a turn.

Ideally, Pack ‘n’ Play time would look like this, with each of the quads taking a turn with a puzzle or other interesting toy.  I don’t know why I didn’t take “honest” pictures as well.  You know, the ones with three screaming babies pressing their noses to the side of the Pack ‘n’ Play or one baby tossing the toys out and wailing.  I just didn’t.

As 18 months approached, so did the dreaded morning nap drop.  Seriously, as our friends with same age multiples dropped this nap, I clung to it dearly.  Morning nap has never been long, but it is “me time”.  When the quads go down for morning nap, I make sure to take care of me.  It’s when I get dressed, brush my teeth, sip my coffee, catch up on emails, and perhaps tackle a few chores.  It does wonders for the rest of our day.  I feel better and have far more patience than when morning nap goes awry.  The time inevitably flies, but I savor every last second of it.

By 17.5 months, it was apparent that morning nap was headed out the door forever.  EEEKS!!!  Yet, the babies still seemed to need rest time as much as I needed the quick recharge.  Someone would request it saying “night night”, and another would curl up with a blankie on the floor.  Rest was still needed.  However, if I allowed them to continue with a 45-60 minute morning nap, then our afternoon was horrendous.  No one slept in the afternoon and everyone was cantankerous.  If we totally skipped morning nap, everyone was cranky and still didn’t nap well in the afternoon (even if afternoon nap was earlier).

Clearly, it was time to evolve.  Instead of going cold turkey on dropping morning nap, I instituted Quiet Time, which is my adapted version of Pack ‘n’ Play Time.   Rather than darkening the nurseries for nap, I left the windows open and lamps illuminated.  I also selected a novel toy (preferably a coveted one) and a few books for each crib, encouraging the quads to explore them.  At first, we had Quiet Time at ten sharp when morning nap would normally occur.  The quads generally played happily in their cribs for the first 10-15 minutes then drifted off to sleep.  It was nice, but still often interfered with afternoon nap.  Over a few weeks, I gradually moved Quiet Time back and afternoon nap a bit earlier.  We are still transitioning, but instead of dropping morning nap I believe we will integrate Quiet Time into our schedule for a long time.  At this point, Quiet Time is only 30 minutes long, and if they fall asleep it’s only a catnap that doesn’t impact the afternoon nap.  It is refreshing for all five of us.  The quads each get time with a preferred toy that cannot be snatched.  Plus, I have just a few moments to enjoy a warm cup of coffee.  I expect that as they get older, it will evolve to independent playtime in their rooms or another quiet place.  I believe we all need a little peace in our day!

Sometimes, they get a bit of shut eye.

Sydney was so tired, she sprawled out on her side as she continued to play.

To spice things up, I also let the quads chose a different crib.  They seem to enjoy the new scenery and crib soothers.

To spice things up, I also let the quads chose a different crib. They seem to enjoy the new scenery and crib soothers.  Also, since we are in the groove of this new routine, I offer them 2-3 choices as to what toys they want in their crib.  It really helps when they feel some ownership over their time.

Quiet time makes everyone happy!

Quiet time makes everyone happy!

Do you have time to yourself each day?  If so, what do you chose to do?



16 thoughts on “Mama’s Coffee Break

  1. Wonderful ideas! Sleep needs & schedules will continue to evolve, but Quiet Time can always be incorporated. Very good for The Fabulous Four & for YOU!


  2. I totally sympathize. None of my kids were nappers, even at only a year old I am lucky to get the twins to nap once a day, and of course its never at the same time. We never had a bedtime routine with my son because he slept in our room so he went to bed when we did. With the girls we were able to move them into their own room once they weaned (around 10 months) and so we set a strict bedtime. Once they were down I could finally get some “Me” time to work from home, blog or watch some adult television (by which I mean not cartoons, not the other kind LOL). Now that I am back at work full time this is my me time…sort of anyway. Cheers!


  3. Every morning after breakfast I put the kids on the floor and then disappear into my office to have my tea and check my mail. My “office” is just around the corner from the play area, separated by an ottoman, so they can see me but I have my back to them. This has become my quiet time, although they play as they want to (usually it’s fine, they sometimes crawl to separate sides of the apartment to play alone). On good days it lasts 20 minutes. On bad days it’s about 5. But it is part of our routine and they seem to get it. Also, sometimes I disappear into the office when they seem to be playing well on their own, and they don’t even notice… so I often get to sneak some more “me” time at other points in the day! It’s like sips of a delicious drink, hahaha.


  4. What a great idea! Ours are full swing in the 1-nap routine, but I think I will do this on grouchy mornings- having them in others’ cribs is so much fun for them, and they will love playing with a toy without it getting snatched!


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