It’s official. My son who just turned 3 years old has recently dropped naptime! No more naps! <Insert my weeping sad face here.> It has been a little while in the making, as sleep was becoming very rare for him in the afternoons. I’m torn. On one hand, it opens up a little more flexibility to not have to rush home for nap time when we are out. But on the other hand, this was my only break in the day! Nap time was also MY time. I used that precious time to get work done and sometimes to just rest and take a breather. Now that time is gone! I have been reflecting on the things that I can do to survive this transition stage in our lives and I thought I would share some strategies so you can survive this phase of no more naps too!
Tip #1: No more naps? Keep up with REST time
This is probably the most important piece of advice I can give. Keep up with rest time! Call it rest time or quiet time- whatever you call it -keep it as part of your daily routine. We all need a break in our day- including our kids and having a little time to ourselves allows us both to recharge our batteries, even if it’s not actual sleep time. It’s also good to keep this in the routine quiet/nap time may be part of their school routine too once they start kindergarten.
I have been enforcing rest time every day with my little guy since he dropped napping. There are some days where we have skipped it altogether but I do not want him to know that this is an option so I tend to be quite rigid still about this one! I still bring him up to his room at 1:00 pm, go through his routine but I call it QUIET TIME instead of nap time. He does not like the word NAP! I tell him that he does not have to sleep, but that he has to have some quiet time in his bed. Some days he puts up a bit of a struggle, but a lot of days he is totally fine with it because it is a part of our daily routine. I usually keep him in bed for 1 hour (sometimes 1.5 hours if he is doing well!)
For those who have not had quiet time and want to introduce it, start small. Start with 45 minutes and see how that goes. You could do books in bed but be prepared to set limits and have a short conversation about books being only for quiet time and not for bedtime at night (ie: when they are supposed to be sleeping!).
Tip #2 : Don’t rush to get them into a big bed if they are still in a crib!
You are already going through one transition, why add another big change?! If your child is still in a crib, try to get through the no nap transition with enforcing quiet time before you move them to a big kid bed. We like to keep them in cribs (if possible) until closer to the age of 3 years old anyway so what’s an extra few months? I for one am in absolutely no rush to get my little guy into a bed. I keep joking that I will keep him in his crib until he is 4 years old. Ha! But really, two big transitions at one time is not super fun!
If your child is already in a bed, you can still have quiet time. Make sure that there is nothing that they can get into in their rooms first such as smaller toys, dangerous items, too many toys and make sure that all furniture is anchored to the wall. Keep their rooms simple with few toys (if they have any toys in their rooms) so that you don’t end up with a giant mess!
Always explain to them what your expectations are. “It is quite time now. You can read books in bed but you have to do it quietly.” Or whatever your expectations are! Set some limits as to what they can and cannot do while having quiet time and leave them to it! (You might want to check in periodically with a monitor or peeking into their room.)
A timer can help with older toddlers so that they can see or hear when rest time will be over.
Tip#3: Don’t be afraid of an early bedtime
If you think about it, their bodies are very used to having that daytime sleep. So when they are no longer napping, they are going to be super tired come 6:00 or 6:30 pm. Some children start to go downhill around 3:00 or 4:00 pm so you don’t want to keep them up too much later. I have been lucky so far and my son has been managing well without meltdowns however, i do see that his behaviour becomes very testy and he gets aggressive closer to bedtime. So 6:15/6:30pm bedtime for him is what works best to ensure that he does not become overtired.
Tip #4: Plan Activities to Keep Them Busy
Now, I am still a huge proponent of quiet time however, having a weekly activity planned to replace their dropped nap time may be a great way to keep them busy for an hour or so.
I am going to try and find a drop in activity for one day per week so that I can have a little break here and there. There is a Nursery School in my neighbourhood that has a drop in program which I think will be perfect! My son is also in childcare a couple of times per week where he will still have quiet time. You may find a swimming lesson or a Dufferdoo program or drop in of some sort which will give you a tiny little break in your day!
A word of warning on this tip though-if you want to keep quiet time a part of your routine…don’t miss too many days of quiet time! If you miss out on quiet time too often each week they will get very used to this and it will make sticking to quiet time a lot harder, at least until they are older and understand a little more. If you come back later from your activities you can still have a short quiet time, but only if you feel your child won’t fall asleep making bedtime difficult.
I hope these tips to survive the transition of no more naps helps you! If you find yourself struggling with naps and bedtime, check out our services page to see how we can help you and your child get the rest you need!