Cincinnati Family Magazine

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February 2, 2023

On Nap Time Struggles

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.

  1. Don’t call it nap time but rather call it rest time.
  2. 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.*
  3. 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!
  4. 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.


About the Author

Susie Dyson

Susie lives in the northern suburbs of Cincinnati with her husband and four kids. She has a 7-Year-old, 6-year-old, 3-year-old and a new baby! Together, they like to explore new things in Cincinnati as well as favorite places like Summit Park and the Cincinnati Nature Center. Susie is a former high school teacher and now a stay-at-home mom. She also enjoys running, being outside, spending time with family and friends, road tripping, participating in her church's activities and drinking coffee.