Nap time: it’s every mom’s moment of solace. Some use it to knock out the chores. Others bring in income working from home while the littles doze. And still others (like me) lead by example and take a nap themselves!
No matter what you use nap time for, I think we can all agree that it’s precious. And none of us look forward to its end. Nevertheless, healthy toddlers can drop the nap as early as two and a half years old (don’t freak: others will keep it through kindergarten).
So what do you do when your toddler stops napping? The answer is quite simple. It’s time to introduce Rest Time!
What is Rest Time?
Rest Time takes place at the same time as the former Nap Time (RIP). Your child should spend this time looking at books or playing with a few quiet toys. Lights are dim, and you could play soft music or none at all. Rest Time works best as an independent activity, but it is possible to do with siblings or while mom works or relaxes in the same room. You just need to enforce the idea of quiet and be consistent.
How to Start
Continue with a similar version of your Nap Time (RIP) routine. That probably means story time and some cuddles. Keep your expectations clear. There should be clear boundaries, like staying in the room and staying quiet. Put out a set amount of toys and books, rather than a free for all. Playthings can be switched up over time to keep it interesting. If your child is not used to independent play, start slowly and gradually increase the length of Rest Time. A timer can be very helpful at the beginning.
Benefits of Rest Time
Rest Time is not just for you! It truly benefits your child as well. Although they no longer need a true nap, Rest Time is still restorative for older toddlers, meaning you’re more likely to have a happy and cooperative child later in the day. And if your little one falls asleep during Rest Time, great! It means they needed a nap that day. For children who get into power struggles over Nap Time, Rest Time provides a sense of choice and control but still puts them in an environment conducive to sleep when their body really needs it.
So let that nap live on as long as possible! And when it inevitably disappears, try Rest Time!