I eeked it out as long as I could… nearly three years…. but now my youngest son is telling me that there is to be no more lunchtime nap.
His body is telling me, too. If he naps for even 20 minutes, he is impossible to get to bed later on.
This is my mind means only one thing – it’s game over for lunchtime nap. I wish it could have gone on for longer but there is nothing to be done. Some toddlers are completely done with naps by age two, others will continue to nap past five if they’re given the chance. Alas none of my boys has been one of them…
How does one cope without that blissful two hours (more recently one hour) of peace in the middle of the day?
This is what I asked myself when my oldest child stopped napping. I soon discovered, though, that there is life after the end of the lunchtime nap.
There is what is known as “quiet time”.
Quiet time is a time for chilling out, reading, drawing, playing quietly with trains or Duplo, and not disturbing your parents.
It is also, in our house, a time for some relaxed telly watching. Not every day but at least three times a week because nursery is exhausting and there’s only so much reading, drawing and playing you can do without becoming an over-stimulated, tantruming disaster-zone (at least when you’re two or three).
During his two episodes of Dip Dap or Chuggington or whatever it is he is in to that week he sits in a chair with his teddy or lies on the sofa on his stomach, resting his tired body. Sometimes he drifts off for a few minutes, which is fine by me as he tends to be a lot more reasonable when he wakes up from a playroom doze compared to a nap in his bed.
His older brothers (four and six) still partake in “quiet time” at the weekends, giving us a chance to read the paper. Telly is on offer for them too but sometimes, when they’re engrossed in Lego building, they forget to ask for it. Result.
How to tell if your child is ready to drop the nap
- They’re increasingly difficult to put down for their nap and sometimes don’t fall asleep at all. They sit in their beds playing, eventually dropping off a few minutes before they need to be woken, which is never a good experience.
- They’re increasingly difficult to put to bed, full of beans and still chatting away in their beds an hour after bedtime.
- When they don’t nap, they can cope until bedtime without getting too tired and emotional.
How to fill “quiet time”
- Put aside a box of toys and books that they only play with during “quiet time”. Puzzles, craft kits, building blocks and Duplo are good.
- Don’t be too quick to switch on the television or get out the iPad. Let them play for a bit first and if they’re happy, don’t put it on at all.
- Model “quiet time” behaviour yourself by getting on with quiet activities like reading.
- Make sure “quiet time” is at the same time each day – children are creatures of habit.
- Be discerning about what shows you let them watch: peaceful is best (BabyBum has been a favourite with us although now he’s insisting on Chuck Chicken…). I know we’re told to feel guilty about young children watching television but I remind myself that a) I watched endless telly when I was that age and b) you’ve got to give yourself a break somehow.