So here comes a time when that lovely long lunch time nap is no more…what now? Does this mean you will be entertaining your toddler for endless hours through the day whilst still managing all your to do list…? I don’t think so!
In this blog I am going to explain why it is important for your toddler to still have some "quiet time", what your toddler can do now they are not napping anymore, how to make it happen so you will also be able to get on with your to do list...and sit down with that hot cup of tea you have been dying for all day..!
So when does this happen?
Dropping the lunch time nap usually happens around the age of 2.5 to 3 years old. You may find bedtime routine becoming a battle or your toddler is taking a LOOONG time to fall asleep… you know something has to change and it could be that lunch time nap! You can read more about it in my 1 to none nap blog here
For many this nap drop occurs around the time many parents are expecting a new sibling so this really can throw a spanner in the works with a toddler around your ankles all day and a newborn! For me, Leo was around two and half when he dropped his nap and Chloe was 6 months old. It was a fun time..!
What can you do now?
Dropping this nap now opens up endless amounts of new opportunities to your family from now comfortably going on day trips and not worrying to much about nap time (unless of course your toddler decides to nap on the way home at 4pm – also known as the danger nap!) You can go for lunches out and not worrying to much about the lunch time nap. You can now fit in those errands you need to do also or get to the supermarket without having to squeeze it in between morning activities and lunch!
But, when this nap is dropped, your toddler will still need to take some quite time, their body will still need time to adjust to the new lifestyle and also it is a great time for your child to learn some more independent play skills.
Why and what is quite time?
Quiet time is not only for your child to break the day up and recharge, it also is a time for you. As parents we are constantly feeling like we have to entertain our children 100% of the time, engaging with them, teaching them, being with them, and of course all these things is great but your child also needs to learn independence. And you need time out also. Don’t forget about you and don’t ever feel guilty about it.
Quiet time is a block of time where your child will spend time alone, ideally in their room where they can read their books, listen to an audio book perhaps or play with some toys in a calm manner.
What to do now?
This is a time as I mentioned to encourage your child to play independently. Playing independently really enhances the imagination, patience and your child will learn and grow to be happy and comfortable with their own company.
I don’t recommend putting them in front of the TV or a screen during this quite time. Why..? I hear your ask. There are a few reasons for this and one of them I always found to be the top reason in my house was that screen time was a great reward tool or for those times I REALLY needed it! Especially when I had little Chloe who needed fed every 3 hours and changed more times than I care to even remember! That’s when I found the TV amazing. It kept Leo occupied while I could feed Chloe or indeed get some cooking done.
Chilling on the sofa with a movie can be relaxing and classified as quite time, however many children can feel even more lethargic when you have to peel them off the sofa to go meet a playdate, you may find temper tantrums kick in because they just want to watch “five minutes more”….
Your child will learn skills such as independence and take on experimentation with increasing attention spans all on their own with no TV. This is gold for your child’s development. We are often running around our children and offering endless amounts of entertainment whether it is a music class or swimming lessons but giving your child some time to be calm and quite will give them an opportunity to evolve their creativity and imagination. They have this unstructured time to come up with entertainment ideas for themselves...with a little inspiration from a “quite time box” you will create for them.
How to introduce this quite time?
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1. First make sure you have all the ammunition! I would highly recommend having a toddler trainer clock like Sam Sheep form ZaZu kids. See link here.
You may already use one and are familiar with it. Set the day time mode to “wake up” in just 30 minutes to start with. If you know your toddler is not quite ready for 30 minutes start low, perhaps just 15 minutes and every couple of days you can extend the time frame by a few minutes until you get to the hour perhaps. You can talk to your toddler and explain when the clock is red it’s quite time in your room to play and when it is green quite time is over and we can crack on with our day…
2. Have your “quiet time box” all filled and ready to go. Perhaps you have one for each day of the week so you can alternate and swap around so interests are kept high.
3. It is still important to do your nap routine, keep your child calm, go to their room as per normal nap time routine, read those stories you usually do pre nap and verbally prepare and tell them what is about to happen. Children thrive on routine, structure and knowing what is coming next. Set the expectations and explain them to your child so they understand,
4. Take the box out and pop it in their room and start to open it and explore something. Daisy Upton from Five Minute Mum [link] she has always said the golden rule to get your child engaged is for YOU to play the game first and let them come to it. You may find this is very helpful when it is time to encourage your toddler to stay in their room for quite time.
5. Verbally reward your child how great they have been and how much fun they must have had during their quit time. You can say “wow, I bet you had a great time working on that tower you built…”
6. Don’t forget to ensure the room in which your child is spending quiet time in is safe. Remove any potential dangers, attach wardrobes, drawers, furniture to the wall to prevent falling over. You may like to have a video monitor on so you can keep a sneaky eye on what they are up to!
You may like to theme the boxes if your child is into particular objects or topics. So you could have a zoo box, medical box, art and craft box… be creative about it!
The pound shop is great for resources such as paper plates, cups, art supplies, books, colouring books, play do ingredients and boxes to store it all in. Your toddler may even like to decorate the outside of the box.
Ideas for inside the box... (You could even wrap a few of them up for engagement!)
A tuff tray in the room is great for putting contents of box onto
Water paint mats and colouring books/book
Puzzles. You can even print out some photos and cut them up and use these as “homemade” puzzles!
Books with flaps
Lollypop sticks and play doh / textured /scented play doh
Stickers, cut in half and your child can spend time matching the pairs together
Large roll of paper such as wall paper primer is great to encourage drawings and lots of space!
Threading cards with short laces
Cardboard boxes and packaging for building
Pipe cleaners and hole punches
Audio stories / podcast
Small world play
I love these aqua painting mats and have been a great source of entertainment!
There are endless amounts of ideas, the list is far too long to go in this blog and I am sure you will be late for your play date this afternoon! Pinterest is a great place to start if you are stuck for ideas and inspiration!
So there we have it, naps are long gone and quite time has arrived! This of course may take some encouragement on your side, don’t worry if your toddler can only mange 15 minutes to start with, you can extend the time over a number of days/weeks.
And it does not have to be every day. As your toddler gets used to no napping you will see how your day works for you and if you still need that quite time and its works in your home…then by all means. Keep it going!
Please do share this blog with any friends who may be approaching this stage or parenting and leave any comments about how your quite time is going! I would love to hear from you!
Happy sleeping as always,
Your Paediatric Sleep Consultant