The magic of “Quiet Time”! Both you and your child need it!
Starting a “Quiet Time” with your toddler/preschooler may just save that precious nap time for you both…..
Those wonderful afternoons when you finally get to sit down and breathe for just a moment. Your toddler is sleeping peacefully after a very active morning, and you are getting a chance to regroup. Suddenly, you have a child that refuses to nap and you are spending a whole afternoon trying to force it! I often hear Moms’ panicked voices saying-“My toddler hasn’t given up his nap yet, have they?” Toddlers need naps, and let’s face it, parents need their toddlers to nap too! So how do you know when your toddler no longer needs a nap?
Toddlers can begin to skip naps starting at about 2 ½ years of age. Many children by age 3 have dropped their nap. If your child is awake during nap time more days than not, then he is probably on his way to dropping the nap. Another sign may be wakefulness at bedtime. If your toddler is sleeping a couple of hours in the afternoon and then is up and down all evening until 9 or 10 0’clock, then his nap may be interfering with bedtime. There seems to be about a 5 hour window for toddlers…up for 5 hours and then a need for sleep. If your toddler doesn’t wake from his nap until 3:30, then he might not be ready for sleep until about 9:00 in the evening.
So, how do you handle your active child from 7:00 am until 7:00 or 8:00 pm every day?! Most children from 2 ½ through age 4 tend to change personalities during that “crunch” time from 5-7 pm. That sweet child can become a whine monster when there is no down time during the day.
So how do you survive? A “Rest Time” just might save everyone! “Rest Time”, “Quiet Time”,”Reading Time”, or simply “Mom’s Sanity Time” is really just time that your child is by himself recharging, and you can too. Remember, toddlers don’t have an “on/off” switch, they don’t slow down well. Parents need to help the process. Just because your little one has given up naps, does not mean your child doesn’t need some time to recharge.
How do you convince your 3-year-old that this “Rest Time” is wonderful?
- Talk it up. Tell your child how excited you are for “Rest Time” (That is the truth!) and how much fun it will be. Explain what your child will be able to do. Sometimes putting together a bag or basket of “Rest Time” books and quiet toys that will be rotated is a good idea. Tell your child what you will be doing. This is a great way to institute the habit of quiet reading every day, for you and your child.
- Make plans for later. “Quiet Time” or “Rest Time” is easier when your child knows why he is resting! “After quiet time you will be ready to go to the park and play.” “After quiet time you can help Mommy bake cookies.” “After quiet time your friend will be over to play.”
- Be consistent. Make “Quiet Time” the same time and in the same place every day. Make it part of your normal daytime routine! Follow your rules each day and soon your child will actually look forward to looking at that new book from the library!
- Set a length of time. A timer works great for children, especially children who are fighting the “Quiet Time”. Watching the time tick down is helpful and may eliminate “Can I come out now?” Don’t expect your child to “rest” for hours. A 30 to 60 minute “Quiet Time” is all you can expect from a toddler who is not napping!
- Lay down the rules. Decide what rules you want to enforce. Our “Quiet Time” meant:
- In their room
- No TV
- In or on their bed
- Reading or quiet play with quiet toys
- Remaining in their room until their timer went off or I came to get them.
“Quiet Time” may result in your child actually falling asleep a couple of times a week. If this happens, be sure that you are waking him with enough time to have at least 5 hours of wake time before bed time. Nothing is worse than a nice break in the afternoon…and a child who is up until 11:00 at night! Don’t make your life more difficult! The occasional nap however may help your child during the transition from naps to “Quiet Time”.
Make “Quiet Time” non-negotiable and you will find that your toddler and you will be recharged and ready for an afternoon of fun. We found that this “Quiet Time” continued during the summer months with our school aged children. It was the perfect time to encourage the Summer Reading Program and instill a love of reading. Children really do need to be taught, especially in this day and age of technology, how to unplug for a few minutes every day. Teaching our children this may also help us learn to do it too! Happy “Quiet Time” Moms….use it wisely!
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.