One of the most frequently asked questions I receive on social media after posting a photo or video of my children doing blanket time is, “What is blanket time?” I asked this too when I heard those two strange words. The short answer: It’s a life-saver. A time-efficient glorious discipline taught to young children that is beneficial for everyone involved—parent, child and whomever else is present.
So, what is blanket time?
Blanket time is an exercise intended to train young children to sit on a blanket provided to them for a duration of time set by their parent. Ultimately, this is a practice intended to increase your child’s ability to listen, obey, and enjoy doing it. During blanket time, our children are allowed to have just a few small toys to entertain themselves and they are to stay on the blanket until mom or dad say they can get up. That’s it! Profound, right?!
Now you’re probably wondering, “What’s the point?” and “How old does my child have to be to start?”
First off, blanket time offers mothers the 5-45 minutes of time many of us are desperate for. Secondly, it teaches your children how to listen to mom’s instruction.
As for age, the younger the better! I have had friends start before their little one was even mobile and others not until their kiddo was three. The downfall about starting later is that it’s harder to teach, but not impossible!
How do I teach this to my child?
As the parent, you know how your child learns best, so this can look different for each person. I can’t tell you exactly what to do, but I can share what has worked for us.
We start young! Like, before our kids can crawl away. This is simply to get our baby familiar with the blanket. We place the baby on the blanket and happily say, “Okay Valor, it’s blanket time now! Blanket time is so much fun, let’s learn how to play quietly!” Then, I will place him on the blanket for just a few minutes.
Since this is just to get him familiarized with the blanket, I often sit calmly and quietly next to him smiling at him every other minute to affirm the moment. Then, once I feel like he has been on the blanket a sufficient amount of time, I will say, “Okay Valor, blanket time is over! You did a great job. Wasn’t that so much fun?!”
The earlier you can begin practicing blanket time, the less difficulty you’ll experience. For example, Valor is 5-months-old and his older brother, Honor, is 21-months-old. Honor is a blanket time champion! He actually gets excited when I say, “it’s blanket time!” He darts across the room to set up his blanket for me. As Honor gets older, he will transition from blanket time to quiet time like his big sister, Aria (who is almost 4).
For older children (ages 2-3) who are just getting started on blanket time, it’s the same general approach. A few toys you know they will enjoy, perhaps special toys they only get to play with during blanket time, a blanket, and a parent willing to dedicate the time to teach this skill to their child. That being said, make sure your kiddos basic needs are met: Are they hungry? Do they need a nap? Do they need a fresh diaper? Checking all these things BEFORE you start could make the learning process much smoother.
I suggest starting with only a few minutes (3-5) and after they begin understanding the concept, you can slowly increase the duration of time.
What if they try and get off?
I simply say, “Oops! It’s blanket time sweetie, that means we must stay on the blanket until mommy says you can get up!” and quickly guide them back.
Since this is a learned skill, they likely will not understand the concept right away and, in reality, probably HATE going back to the blanket. But be patient and stick with it! CONSISTENCY IS KEY! It’s okay to remind yourself that YOU are the parent! 😉 I promise, in the long run, this discipline is worth it!
Teaching our children this skill, in my opinion, has been beneficial for our entire family! Your child gets to practice listening, self-control, sitting quietly, and body awareness while you get to get through a doctor’s appointment with your toddler present, cooking dinner for your family without a toddler fight breaking out, get a shower, or just enjoy some much-needed rest time!
I hope this helps answer the questions I received pertaining to blanket time. I’m cheering you on from Central Oregon and I hope teaching this skill to your children blesses you and your family.
With you in the journey,