Although ultimately, I do believe naps are absolutely vital to toddlers and should be kept going for as long as humanly possible (read more about that here), eventually the dark dooms day when your toddler is absolutely, 100% and categorically ready to drop their nap will no longer be a looming shadow in fact a – shock horror – reality.
Yup, no amount of pushing them around the block in their buggy after lunch is going to change that fact (although you CAN eek a few months more out of nap time by doing this, so I learnt!).
Anyone with a toddler in the house knows the prospect of a toddler careering around the house for 12 hours a day with no down time is a very frightening prospect indeed, however, if you take action quick, there is still hope of a relatively peaceful hour’s break in the middle of the day.
The trick here is to replace nap time, with quiet time, and do it from the very start, and strike while the iron is hot, otherwise rue the day forever. Amazingly I managed to spin a whole two months of nap time by iniating quiet time instead.
But what is this quiet time I hear you speak of…?
Let me explain.
Quiet time is like a toddler chillax, without the sleep. Although they might ready to drop their nap, if they have no rest at all they are likely to end up either as a hysterical chimpanzee or a great grumpy ogre by the end of the day if they don’t have some relative “off time”.
The trick with quiet time is so be totally blasee about it. I approach quiet time in the same way I would nap time – we have the usual wind down period, reading and cuddles after lunch with plenty of warning that quiet time is coming soon and then I tend to spin it something like this…
“OK it’s quiet time, I don’t mind what you do during quiet time…whether you sleep or not, you can play or sing or cuddle your toys, look at books, listen to music or whatever you want but the key is to be quiet throughout – no talking to me. You can lie next to me with a blanket while I do what I need to do, or you can be up in your room (yeah right! but good to give them a choice), and quiet time is only over when I say so.”
I find that explaining that quiet time is important so that they have the energy to do fun stuff in the afternoon usually sweetens the pill somewhat too.
The first few times might take a bit of reinforcement of the idea, but they usually get the idea, and you can always give them the option to go sleep in their cot, which usually gets them liking the quiet time option pretty quickly instead. You should be able to spin a good hour out of this, fingers crossed!
Oh and the other bonus and strategy for when they drop their nap? You get to put them to bed a whole half hour earlier in compensation until they adjust to their newly found no nap situation. SCORE!
Has your toddler recently dropped their nap? Did you replace nap time with quiet time? I’d love to hear how you made the transition….