Once upon a time I had my first child and they took a two-hour nap and slept ten hours each night without waking up. Then I had a second child and both of them napped at the same time and slept through the night. Life was good and I felt like I had it made. Then something happened to my first child and she stopped taking naps even though she still needed them. I did everything in my power to make her take a nap. It became a battle and sometimes tears, sweat, and yelling were involved. Finally, one day I had a realization that I could not make her sleep but I could make her have down time, which we both needed.
It is a sad day when nap time ends but that does not mean that everyone still cannot have a break. I need some time to myself either to take a little snooze, veg out, or get some stuff done. She needs the time to relax and refresh herself after a busy morning of preschool or playing. Everyone is better for this down time and it makes for a more pleasant afternoon.
I am not an expert and do not have all of the answers as this down time is still a challenge but here are some things that have made down time a little bit smoother.
- Don’t call it nap time but rather call it rest time.
- Set a timer for a realistic amount of time and every time they come out of their room add five minutes to the timer. There are all kind of timers on the market but I use a Time Timer as it has big numbers on it and shades the amount of time left with red. It is simple to use and understandable for an almost 4-year-old.*
- Have special activities just for that child and just for rest time. The Dollar Store is a great place to get things like flashcards or play money. I cannot let my daughter have any type of writing utensil unsupervised as she has been known to leave some lovely graffiti on the walls. Also, library books are a great thing to reserve for rest time. The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County has a fantastic summer reading program going on and kids can log their reading time for weekly prizes. It is important to keep these special activities fresh as I have been lax lately and they are losing their luster so I need to get some more stuff for them!
- Some days they may even fall asleep and if this happens, enjoy, but don’t let them sleep too late or they will never go to bed for you!
Again I have not mastered this nap time thing but rather than making it a fight I have tried to make it fun! Any tips that have worked for you?
*I use timers for transitions in general and find them to be very effective.