When Toddlers Interrupt Your "Quiet Time"

The alarm clock jolted me awake, beckoning me from my deep sleep. I hopped out of bed as quickly as I could, knowing that even a half second of lying still would set me back an hour. I tiptoed quietly to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee.

There was only one reason I was awake—to spend some uninterrupted time in God's Word before my two toddler girls woke up.

Before turning on the living room light next to my desk, I grabbed a towel from the bathroom and wedged it tightly under my girls' bedroom door to prevent any light from shining into their room. Living in a two-bedroom apartment for almost two years has trained me to figure out clever ways to function in a small space. I pulled out my journal and Bible, grateful for the quiet.

My children aren't interruptions to my spiritual growth. They are opportunities for me to know Jesus even more.

My coffee barely had a chance to cool when I heard talking from the girls' bedroom. Not one child, but definitely two. Even though I could make them stay in their room longer, the quiet of my morning was gone. How did they know I was awake? It's an hour before their usual waking time! I rested my head in my hands as I felt frustration welling up in my soul. This was not the way I had envisioned my day beginning.

Sound familiar? Maybe, like me, you long to be up early to spend time with the Lord each morning. Before I had children, it was pretty easy for me to start my day this way. After I had my first child, I immediately began struggling for the same early morning consistency. Middle of the night feedings and short spurts of sleep changed my sleeping schedule drastically. Not to mention teething and growth spurts and stomach bugs.

I had finally reached a level of routine again when our second daughter was born. There were mornings when I was up early and mornings when I wasn't. I found myself feeling defeated and weighed down.

  • Was I failing as a Christian woman? A wife? A mom?
  • Was God disappointed in me?
  • Was He "waiting in a chair" for me to show up while I snoozed or snuggled with a baby?

An All-Day Invitation

Most of us value some sense of order to our daily lives. We like having routines, even if we only follow them loosely. "Order" is a good thing. Not many people can live or operate in chaos.

But when it comes to our spiritual lives, we must be careful not to confine our fellowship with the Lord to a "time slot."

I don't want to believe the lie that my day is ruined when my children wake up early. My children aren't interruptions to my spiritual growth. They are opportunities for me to know Jesus even more. I'm grateful for the example of my own mom when it comes to seeking the Lord in the season of motherhood.

Growing up, she always had her Bible open on the kitchen counter. She played praise music throughout the house. She listened to sermons often. The pattern of her life was seeking Him, and she talked to us about the things of God. I know that most mornings she was up early, meeting with God before we woke up. But I'm sure there were plenty of mornings that she didn't make it there. That didn't stop her from getting into His Word or inviting us to join her.

On the days that don't play out according to plan, I am encouraged by realizing that God's invitation for knowing Him is so much broader than a time slot. He promises in His word, "I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me" (Pro. 8:17). He is always there, day or night, and He isn't bothered by your little ones' interruptions. In fact, He welcomes them (Matt. 19:14).

Fill Up My Days and Nights

I've discovered that when the desire of my heart is to know the Lord, I am more aware of little bits and pieces of time that I can spend alone with Him. It's often been said, "You make time for the things that are most important to you." I think this phrase is pretty accurate. If my heart truly longs for the Lord, I will find the time to spend in His Word.

I love the early morning quiet before the day gets going. But I've learned to treasure the naptime hour when the laundry is churning and the dishwasher is running. A few moments sitting in the car provide a perfect time to pray or meditate on Scripture. And there's nothing as peaceful as rocking a baby in the middle of the night. In those mothering moments when time slows down for just a bit, do I truly believe that Christ will satisfy my soul?

David in Psalm 119:148–149 says, "I rise before dawn and cry for help; I wait for your words. My eyes anticipate the night watches, that I may meditate on Your word." David rises early but he also anticipates the night watches. Do not feel defeated if you missed the dawn, for He is in the dark of the night too.

Noisy Time

I enjoy a nice and long "quiet time" as much as the next mom. But I am learning there's real treasure to be found in the noisy times too.

I want to be the mom whose faith is real, whose Bible is open, and who stops fretting about all the time she doesn't have but makes use of the hours she's given.

When God commands the Israelites to love and obey Him in Deuteronomy 6, He gives specific instruction to the mothers (and fathers), "You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise" (v. 7). When I read this passage, I always imagine a young mother sitting on a porch in the evening light, teaching her children about God while the crickets chirp and the occasional mosquito bites.

I want to be that mom.

The mom whose faith is real, whose Bible is open, and who stops fretting about all the time she doesn't have but makes use of the hours she's given. My children need me to diligently teach them the gospel. And it isn't just beneficial for their hungry souls. God uses it to feed my heart too. Independent and collaborative Bible reading, memory verses, felt boards, and prayer time—there is time to seek Him snuggled in bed, in the play room, the backyard, and the breakfast table. God is faithful to use the noisy and the quiet, the long and the short, the messy and the clean times. I need only to welcome them.

Young mother, is your heart heavy about all the "time" that you can't seem to find?

Remember His words, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matt. 11:29–30).

He promises that if you seek Him with all your heart, you will find Him. Pursue Him in the quiet of the morning, but open His Word in the noisy noondays and weary evenings too. Wait for Him. And when your heart is overwhelmed by all the quiet time you do not have, remember His words, "Let the little children come to me, for such is the kingdom of God."

About the Author

GraceAnna Castleberry

GraceAnna Castleberry

GraceAnna Castleberry is a wife, mother, and worker at home. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, Grant, who is the senior pastor at Capital Community Church.

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