It was so hard to say goodbye. I held on as long as I could. I wanted to be in that elusive group of moms who have kids that nap until 4 years old (and I fantasized about making it to 5 years) but it was time that I admitted it….at 2.5 years old, we were done with naptime.
The signs were there.
They didn’t fall asleep at naptime.
Let’s start with the obvious. Even in their quiet, dark room after countless books and snuggles, my boys would frequently lie there not sleeping for hours on end. I’d spent too many afternoons putting them down only to go into their rooms an hour and a half later and find them (half dressed, toys flung about) wide eyed and bushy tailed. Since I have boys that share a room, the conversations between them never ceased. The volume and excitement level only rose. In the last weeks of denial, they were jumping up and down, taking clothes off, and throwing their comfort items across the room.
Bedtime became a struggle.
Since naptime wasn’t going as planned, they were in their rooms later in the day and sometimes not falling asleep until the 4:00 hour. This effected bedtime (in some children it could cause them to wake up even earlier). Putting them down at night was a challenge on days they did manage to nap. They were simply sleeping more than their bodies needed.
The absence of naps didn’t alter behavior.
And finally, we didn’t have any negative behavior side effects from skipping naps. They were making it thru the day just fine. In general, my boys were lasting from morning till bedtime without becoming overly grumpy, crabby or irritable. And as much as I wanted to blame every outburst on the lack of nap, I finally conceded that this was just my toddlers’ norm. Think about what is normal behavior for your child, and use that as a gauge. There just wasn’t that exhausted look in their eyes.
So they were ready to give up their naps…but I wasn’t! There were mornings I counted down the minutes until nap time. I needed that break from them. But after the two hours of nap, I was sooooo happy to go up their rooms and start the afternoon. Fresh. The same battles may be fought as the morning but I had fresh armor.
And while it was true that my solitude hour was changing, it didn’t have to go away completely.
Goodbye Naptime…Hello Quiet Time???
Even with the absence of full naps, I have designated naptime as quiet time. At its core, quiet time is downtime for my boys. It’s a time during the day where they have an opportunity to rest their busy little minds and bodies. It’s a time for them to recharge their batteries (and to recharge mine as well). My plan for quiet time is a work in progress. My boys are learning this new normal and I’m seeing what works. These are my takeaways from our first few months
Keep the routine
Since my boys respond well to routines, we do the same prep work as we did before nap. Snuggles and books in their room. And I’ve decided to keep them in the same room for quiet time. They have always slept together, so I think while separating them would have their perks (less fighting and less chatter) it would also cause too much curiosity and too big of a deviation from how things were.
Choose appropriate activities
I’m putting some activities in their room (puzzles, crayons, Lego sets) that hopefully engage them and keep them in the designated area. And for us, quiet time does not mean screen time. I’ve introduced a few new puzzles, books and imagination toys that are only used during this designated time to hopefully keep them engaged and encourage them to not leave their rooms and play independently
Talk to them about the Rules
I can’t expect my boys to know what to do and be able to do correctly right away. So we’re having conversations about expectations regarding this new part of our day. I’m letting them know the expectations we have and the behavior that is acceptable. Simple conversations with my boys telling them that they don’t have to lay down and nap but that they do need to have quiet activities. The first week, I had to have these little conversations and reminders every 15 minutes. This has been the most work but they responded well to the “not napping” part.
Isn’t this just the case with everything in parenting? Have a plan, but be prepared to change and modify it. Take it week by week because once you think have it figured out it will change.
In summary, I’m going to look on the bright side. Not having naps has its upsides. Play dates no longer need to be scheduled at 10 or 4. Hello, we are available at 1:30!!!! We can do lunch dates, go watch Saturday afternoon football games, stay at the zoo for the whole day. We won’t be sprinting out of activities when the clock strikes 12 anymore.
And no naptimes mean early bedtimes, right?!?!?