Quiet Time is definately a must around our house in order to keep things sane!!! I have tried a couple of different routines, but the one we are using right now, seems to fit us best. I have used the timer before, but here recently the rule has been when the baby wakes up, the rest of the house may "be loud" again. We eat lunch around noon everyday, so as soon as we're finished eatting, we try to clean off the table and wash up. (The baby can make a huge mess out of bread!!! Anyone else's kid like that?)
We try to lay the baby (that's 17 months old now) down by 12:30 and she normally sleeps until 3:00-3:30
Leah at 2 months during naptime
For the first hour, the older two are aloud to play outside or quietly in Derek's room or finish up any school work they still may have. Then at around 1:30 - 2:00, Lindsay lays down for her nap. While both girls are napping, Derek has to read to me for 15 minutes. And then he's allowed to play quietly in his room for the remainder of quiet time. Derek is very good about playing quietly, so it has never been an issue for us to just let him play. He plays really well all day with his sisters, so he definately enjoys some time to himself to play with his tractors and cars. Lately he has been into building things, so he goes out to the barn to build with his Daddy's scrap lumber during nap time, and the the girls are always excited to see what he's made when they wake up!
Lindsay has been my "problem" child lately on taking naps. She was having trouble going to sleep the same time Leah was and would lay in her bed and toss and turn and whine and cry. And it was just really miserable for all of us. However, if I let her stay up the whole day like Derek, by 5:00 we were all ready to kill each other!!! So, I finally decided one day to let her stay up and see at what point she started to get crabby. 2:00 is about her breaking point, so wa-la!!! Derek was about 5 when he gave up his nap, but I still made him lay on his bed quietly until just recently.
Now this is what works for us, and I'm not saying that some day if we ever have more children that I won't make Derek lay quietly on his bed longer, but for right now, this seems to fit us just fine!!!