I am so pleased to welcome Allie of No Time For Flashcards as she opens up about her preschooler's transition away from naptime, the importance of routines and the tools and methods that have helped her along the way.
RIP Nap Time
My son is almost 4 years old and in that time he has probably slept through the night 20 times. I often refer to him being "allergic to sleep" as a way to make light of what took me a long time to accept, he is simply not a sleeper. The only shining silver lining was that he was a great napper. Was. Can you hear me crying? I am so sad he isn't napping anymore. In June, he became a big brother and during my daughter's super sleepy newborn days I could get them both down for wonderful long naps. I admit I was kinda smug about it. I should know by now if you brag, it will jinx you.
The breakdown came when I was trying to get him down for a nap, baby girl was asleep, my workout clothes were on and I was ready to sweat and try to reclaim my not so fat jeans ( my skinny ones are months down the road), and I lost it. He wasn't settling and I hear the hungry cries from the other room.
" I just want to fit into my clothes!"
I started crying harder than my infant , my son looked at me like I had two heads and that was the last day we even tried to take a nap.
Enter Quiet Time.
It's not really quiet and we are still working on making it a full hour but I have learned a few things since starting this new adventure a few months ago.Some kids need structure. Just going into a room with toys and closing the door may lead to disaster and possibly carpet cleaning. Here are some things that have worked for us.
# 1, 2, 3 !
I use little cards I made with the numbers 1-3 on them to choose three activities for my son to do in his room. Today he read a pile of books, used his magna doodle then played post office . After he is done those three activities he can play with anything in his room. This has helped him focus on something instead of simply focusing on opening the door and asking " Can I come out yet?" I switch up the activities daily ( puzzles, Lego, stickers) and try to have a large rotation so he doesn't get bored.
A Clock !
This works marginally well for us ( I haven't given up yet) but I know has worked beautifully for many friends. Give your child a clock and show them where the hands have to be before they may come out of quiet time. I show my son every day but if he is "done" it won't matter. With kids like my son, try an incentive.
Remove anything that might trigger shenanigans.
My son loves music. He loves making music with drums, his keyboard and harmonica. He is not allowed to play with these toys during quiet time. Instead of running upstairs 300 times to tell him no and get into a negative loop with him and attention , I take them out every day and return them once his sister is up from her nap.
Routine and Rituals
Kids crave routine and being able to predict what will happen next. My son knows that quiet time starts at 2pm, it's always in his room and knows that when it's over we have "Today's snack" and chat while his sister naps. Then he may play quietly for another hour , do a craft or learning activity with me, go outside or read. At 4pm he may watch a show if he has been listening. The rules are always the same, the house is peaceful and it's helped get over the insanity of no nap.
Giving up naps has changed us as a family, now my son goes to bed at 7:15 and is asleep before 8pm, which gives my husband and I some extra together time a bonus we hadn't thought about. It has also given my son and I more time together during the day while my daughter is sleeping, which I think has really helped his adjustment too. I don't get as much alone time but as angry as I was getting when he would fight his nap simply wasn't healthy. So like all parts of parenthood you try stuff until it works, I hope some of the things that have worked for us will help you too.
[image credit: Dianna]
Allison McDonald is the wonderful blogger behind No Time For Flash Cards, a website full of activities, crafts and ideas for young children. She is one of my daily blog reads and I count it a privilege to have her guest post here today. Thank you, Allie! For more fantastic ideas about how to promote play, discovery and learning in your child be sure to visit www.notimeforflashcards.com