Every parent faces the crisis when their three or four year old just won’t seem to go down for a nap anymore. That midday recharging time slips away into an energy-sucking hour of crying and complaining, leaving your child fussier than ever. Even worse, it takes away those couple hours that you had in the middle of the day to recharge yourself or get some work done.
One of the best solutions for this dilemma is to switch nap time to quiet time. It still looks much the same, in that your child is in a different room from you, being quiet. However, he or she can, instead of napping, participate in quiet solitary activities. These next few sections will describe how you can transition from nap time into quiet time.
When Your Child Outgrows Naps: Maintain a Schedule
Even when your child is not napping, you can still hold onto that midday nap time. It can be a recharging of a different kind, specifically, a quiet time for both you and your child. Keep this quiet time at the same time as the nap was, which is very helpful if you still have a younger child or two who is napping during that time. Also, keep the quiet time approximately the same length as the nap time was, to give you and your child a full opportunity to spend time apart and recharge.
When Your Child Outgrows Naps: Set Aside a Space
The most important thing to do to have a successful quiet time is to have a space set aside that has a lot of quiet activities available. Your child’s bedroom is a great place, as long as it isn’t shared with another child who is asleep or having quiet time simultaneously. If your children share bedrooms, consider setting aside a playroom, den, corner, or converting a walk-in-closet. Another option, if the bedroom is shared with a child who still naps, is to move the sleeper into one of the above listed locations instead.
When Your Child Outgrows Naps: Suggest Quiet Activities
The second element to success is providing enough materials for quiet activities. The activities themselves can range from reading books, to playing with stuffed animals, building with Lego blocks, coloring, doing puzzles, or any number of other activities. Suggest some things that you know your child enjoys, and if needed, purchase some more toys that will be conducive to quiet time.
When Your Child Outgrows Naps: Put a Time Limit on Quiet Time
Your child will be much more agreeable if you set an end time for the daily quiet time rather than letting it go on indefinitely. There are any number of ways to do this, from setting a simple timer or alarm clock in the room to go off at a time that is, say, 2 hours later than when quiet time began.
Another far more fun way to do it is to have a set of music that is the same length as quiet time, either on a CD or two, or on an iPod or other mp3 player hooked up to speakers. That way your child will have some background noise while playing, and they know that they can come out when the music turns off on its own. At the end of quiet time, you should both be refreshed and ready to continue with the day!