I remember when naps were diminishing at our house. I was a tad devastated.
Naps were when I worked on my blog.
Naps were when I cleaned, folded laundry, paid the bills, and prepared meals. Naps – ahh – they are so beautiful for a stay at home mom or dad.
How to Transition Kids out of Nap Time
It was natural transition for our family when my oldest began weening herself from naps. Kindergarten was right around the corner. It was not only inevitable, but her natural clock kicked in to tell her she was all done with naps.
However, I wasn’t prepared for my middle child to drop her nap so quickly.
I have heard that the second and third children seem to drop them sooner than the first. That was definitely the case in our home.
The trick for how to transition kids out of nap time comes in keeping a quiet time established in the home. This might not work for all families and their busy schedules, but it worked for us.
As they are dropping naps, it can be beneficial to still keep a structured quiet time. Before we jump into what this looks like, many might be asking, “How do I know my child is ready to drop a nap?”
What are the Signs that Your Toddler or Child is Ready to Transition out of Nap Time?
Your Child Will Have a Hard Time Falling Asleep at Nap Time – You may have developed a nap schedule pretty naturally. The child is tired. You put that down. Voilà.
Others struggle more to develop an established nap time. Sometimes it never happens.
Most likely you are still reading because your child has established a nap rhythm. Suddenly you will discover your child is coming out of bed, making noise or engaging with the stuffed animals stacked around them when they would normally be napping.
Sleep seems to evade them. This is a sign that your child is ready to transition.
Natural Life Circumstances Force a Transition – Life changes for kids. School might be starting soon for your 5 year old, yet your kid doesn’t seem ready to stop napping.
A new job for a parent might also influence nap time.
Rather than the child weening themselves, you need to force the transition. This can be hard. Expect more melt downs in the evening. It won’t last forever, so just be prepared for the schedule change to bring with it some challenges.
By the way, these challenges often hit whether they are doing the weening themselves or the parents are weening them. It’s just a hard time for kids to learn how to function longer without the rest. They will be tired. They’ll grow out of it. Hang in there.
Bed Time Becomes More Difficult – Another sign that your child is ready to drop a nap is that bedtime becomes more challenging. If your toddler or young child cannot fall asleep easily at bedtime it might mean that they are getting too much sleep in the day.
Transitioning Your Child Out of Nap Time
You’ve determined that your child is saying goodbye to nap time? What next? Let me tell you what worked for me.
Move from nap time to quiet time.
The first thirty minutes of quiet time is for reading or relaxing. They can gather books, but they must be in bed.
Some kids might drift off. If you don’t want this to happen, you might want to check in on them or keep them close to you. Keep it, however, a time of rest – just not sleep.
The next 30 minutes is meant for playing quietly. This is a time they can be out of their bed. You can decide if it is better to remain in their room or go to another area of the house.
Here are some quiet activities that can be made available to them during quiet play: puzzles, coloring, playing with toys, building with legos or blocks, or doing pretend play (play in their play kitchen or play work shop.
How to Help Kids Adhere to the Quiet Time Established
Here are two options:
Time Starts Over – If your children aren’t doing what they are supposed to do, time starts over. You have a 30 minute clock that is counting down. If they are messing around and not following instructions simply say, “I’m starting the timer over again.” Always try to speak in a calm and collected voice.
Follow through on this consequence. They will learn.
Add Five Minutes – Another option is to add five minutes every time they are acting in such a way that requires your attention. Again, keep calm and carry on.
Reward – If your children have done fairly well with their quiet time, they can watch a 30 minute show or have a special game or activity with mom.
If they stick to the quite time AND get a TV award, it gives the mom or dad at least 1 1/2 hours of time to do all of their house keeping duties. It never feels like enough, but it’s a great start.
More Tips for Transitioning Kids out of Nap Time
- Make bedtime earlier. Here are 7 reasons why I promote an early bedtime.
- Don’t get rid of naps cold turkey. Some days kids will be more tired and need a nap.
- Transition out of nap times, making nap times gradually shorter over time until they disappear all together.
- Avoid afternoon car rides.
- Make quiet time a special time. Don’t make it feel like purgatory. Set up calm spaces and activities that are engaging to your kids.
- Be consistent. Keep your quiet time consistent to when nap time normally occurs.
- Keep a quiet atmosphere. Turn on some piano music, and keep your own activity calmer.
- Be with them. I know that part of the beauty of nap time for a parent is the ability to get things done. Instead of being busy, you can also use quiet time as a time to slow down yourself. We all need that reminder. Join them in their quiet time by curling up on the couch and reading to them. Take time to chill out together.
Look on the Bright Side
I know there is a mourning when it comes to losing nap time. That peace and quiet is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!
That said, when the nap time disappears, a whole new world of possibilities opens up. You are no longer confined to the home at certain times. You can keep going on whatever outing or task has you occupied that day.
There is something to be missed about nap time, but I really wouldn’t go back. The freedom that no nap provides is well worth it!
I am hoping I’ve given you ideas here that really helps make that transition better for you!
Want More Parenting Ideas?
Visit my parenting tab for more parenting ideas. Parenting is tough. I don’t write this blog because I was naturally gifted at it. I write it because I want to do well. I am a student. Whatever I have found that has worked for me, I want to pass along to others who might be looking to be better too.