The Magic of Quiet Time Bins for 3 Year Olds

Ah the dreaded end of nap time…but it doesn’t have to be dreaded!!! Enter quiet time and the magic of quiet time bins!

a pin image that reads 3 year old quiet time bins over an image of plastic bins all lined up and filled with books, toys, and puzzles

But what even is quiet time?!

Quiet time is simply the same as a nap except you don’t expect them to sleep.

Instead, you expect them to rest. they are expected to entertain themselves, without you in the same room, for a set amount of time. This allows you the freedom that you so desperately need in order to do a little self-care or chores around the house.

Some kids take super-naturally to it and have no problems with you setting a 30-minute or even a 1-hour timer and they chill in their rooms and entertain themselves. Other kids struggle with it just a little more and will need practice to work up to the hour time frame.

But HOW do you do actually do quiet time?!

Prior to quiet time, just like prior to nap time, is a great time to read a book together and remind them to take a bathroom break. After that, find a quiet space for them; their bedroom works great as that room is also generally childproofed quite well! I set up Bitty in our spare bedroom (because her sister is sleeping in their bedroom). I turn on some ambient music; think like meditation music or instrumental music and then I set our one of her quiet time bins on a work tray on the bed.

We have 4 quiet time bins that we rotate through. Some people like to have a bin designated for each day of the week Monday through Friday, I just have the four bins that we rotate through, and if I’m honest she prefers the bin with the Legos in it and will do that one on repeat endlessly if I let her.

Bitty still naps on alternating days. Tue, Thurs, and Sat are quiet time days and often we will use one quiet time bin for a whole week before switching. So as of right now, 4 quiet time bins are more than enough for us!

Once I have her quiet time bin pulled out I also remind her that she’s free to read books or play with the beanie babies and wooden blocks in the room and then I tell her that I’ll come get her in an hour. 

She’s always allowed to leave if she needs to go to the bathroom but more often than not I don’t hear from her and she contentedly plays with the contents of the quiet time bin for the hour.

a pin image that reads discover the magic of quiet time bins - simple invitations to play that will save your sanity with an image of plastic bins all lined up and filled with toys, books, and puzzles.

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Aim to have a few different kinds of toys in your quiet time bins

A quiet time bin sort of works like a mini toy rotation. It’s a set collection of toys that your child is only able to access during their quiet time.

You also tend to curate the toys to be slightly more calm things like puzzles, coloring, books, and Legos. The limited access and limited options make even the simplest of toys perfect for quiet time bins! Think about things that will encourage them to rest their bodies even if they won’t rest their eyes! 

Because I’m extra…when I first set up our quiet time bins I tried to have similar types of toys available within each bin.

So some kind of puzzle, some kind of fidget toy, some kind of pretend play, some kind of open-ended tinkering toy, a book, etc… I’m not sure if we’re still as balanced as we were at the beginning but I do feel that each bin is fairly well balanced right now

Gotta Keep those quiet time bins organized!

Originally I kept her quiet time toys in standard shoebox-sized Sterilite containers It worked great… until we started wanting to include larger things like full-size workbooks.

After some poking around, I figured out that a scrapbook paper storage box was going to be the best solution for us. It was big enough to hold most anything I would put out for a quiet time, whether that be something big and flat like a workbook or something chunkier like a nesting doll. 

The shallower bigger size of the box also allowed for easier access to the things in the box! You didn’t have to take everything out to get to the bottom of the bin you can just sort of shuffle around the contents inside of the quiet time bin.

One of the other reasons that I liked the scrapbook box system was that this came in a tower that allowed you to pull a box out without having to unstack the rest of the boxes 

So it didn’t matter if she wanted the box on the top or the bottom you just slide it out, sort of like a drawer. This allows for easier access, which I’m all for making my life easier while also keeping it highly organized!

If you know me I am a big fan of all things organization! So within each of the scrapbook boxes, a lot of the toys are further sorted into small zipper pouches to keep pieces of activity together.

Quiet time bin ideas for a 3.5 year old

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Below I am going to list everything that we currently have in our quiet time bins and link as many as I can! I hope that this helps give you some ideas when you are creating your own quiet time bins and even if we are putting everything in a bin I encourage you to think outside the box!

quiet time bin 1
a pin image that reads three year old quiet time box - box #1 over an image of a plastic box with the toys, books, and puzzles scattered all around it
Quiet time Bin 2 
a pin image that reads three year old quiet time box - box #2 over an image of a plastic box with the toys, books, and puzzles scattered all around it
Quiet time bin 3 
a pin image that reads three year old quiet time box - box #3 over an image of a plastic box with the toys, books, and puzzles scattered all around it
Quiet time bin 4
a pin image that reads three year old quiet time box - box #4 over an image of a plastic box with the toys, books, and puzzles scattered all around it

Quiet time can be pure magic. 

It can help reset their day just as much as a nap can and it still gives you that much needed alone time in the middle of the day to reset, rest, and charge your own batteries!

You may even find them begging to go to quiet time early because they want to go play with their quiet time bins!!!

a pin image that reads everything you need to know about quiet time bins over an image of a quiet time bin with its contents scattered around it

I would love to know what you end up putting in your quiet time bins! We have been using these for a few months now and I think we are nearing a refresh and rotation of materials! Leave a comment below or message me on Instagram so we can chat!

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9 Replies to “The Magic of Quiet Time Bins for 3 Year Olds”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with quiet-time bins. I have been putting together similar bins based on your ideas for my grandson. My daughter has had many days of having him home and I am sure they will help her.

    1. That’s amazing to hear! I have a follow-up post planned for slightly older kids as their interests and skills grow!

  2. These are great ideas for what to put in the bins, but I’m having trouble getting my son to be ok playing by himself in his room. He’s 2 and we’re on week 2 of no naps so I am desperate for quiet time. He does fairly well paying quietly in the living area, but do you have any tips on transitioning into his room?

    1. That can definitely be a challenge. 2 is quite young still to expect them to want to do quiet time. We didn’t start until after 3. I would stick with very boring quiet times, in his room, low lights, books, and stuffed animals only and hope and pray for a little nap! lol If he really has given up on naps then a good transition idea might be to join him for the first 5 minutes with very intentional play then after that tell him that you have to get some work done in the kitchen and he needs to stay and keep playing and you will be back. Odds are he will be willing to keep playing so long as he thinks your coming back. At 2 I wouldn’t go longer than 30 for independent quiet time. I know that doesn’t seem like much time but to them, it can feel quite long! Also, a visual timer may help if he’s able to start quiet time but not wait it out until the end. Hope some of that helps a little bit!

  3. Love this idea! Do you have a formula for what you use to put these together? We have SO MANY toys and activity sets already, I feel like I could whip one of these up right now 🙂 thanks for the great content, I just found and followed you on Pinterest!

    1. I try and make sure each box has a handful of options that hit different needs but I don’t have a formula or exact plan that I follow but some ideas would be; an opened ended play option (cars, figures) a puzzle or learning tool (mazes, puzzles) a creative option (paper and pencils, stamps) a more fidget type toy (popit, poptube) building toy (legos, magnatiles) and always books – interactive or sound books are perfect for this! So glad to have you!!! I have a refresh coming soon to our bins that I’m looking forward to sharing!

  4. I really like how you explicitly broke down what’s in each bin! That’s really helpful in deciding what I can use when I implement this system. I have a 2 year old and 2 month old, but would love to create some quiet bins for maybe first thing in the morning or last thing at night! I also love your Usborne books!

    1. Thank You! You could definitely do this for your 2-year-old, you’ll just have to be more selective about what you include so you avoid choking hazards/messy options!

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