When my daughter started to show signs of dropping her nap, I went into full-on panic mode. If you’re anything like me, nap time is the only time you can think and get anything productive done during the day. So, when my kid decided to grow out of her nap, I may or may not have hyperventilated a little. I decided quickly that I would have none of it, and I immediately began to implement a quiet time instead of nap time. I wasn’t sure if my plan to keep her in her room for a couple of hours every day would work, but my daughter took to it rather well, and we have been happily having quiet time in place of nap time for over a year now.
7 Tips for Going From Nap Time to Quiet Time
Here are some of my best tips for transitioning from nap to quiet time in your home.
1. Set a schedule and stick to it.
This should be implemented when you have a napper on your hands, but if you haven’t already done it, start now. For me, nap/quiet time is directly after lunch, so it usually begins around 12:30. My kids know that we have our rest time after lunch, and there are no negotiations or arguing about it. Sure, I’ll still get some pushback some days, but for the most part, my kids are used to (and thrive on) our routine, so nap/quiet time happens relatively easily.
2. Set expectations ahead of time.
When you start implementing quiet time instead of nap time, ensure your toddler knows what you expect. For instance, I would tell my daughter, “It is time for rest. You don’t have to go to sleep, but stay in your room and play quietly.” I would then set her up with her activities (see below) and set her special clock to change colors when her quiet time was over (see below) so she knew what she was allowed to play with and when she could come out of her room.
3. Set up quiet time activities.
Providing some quiet activities for your kids during this time is essential. For my daughter, she has a dollhouse and books in her room. These are her go-to activities for quiet time. She also has an “art cart” where I have organized her coloring books, colored pencils, and crayons. I also bought her a small boombox (they still make them!) and gave her a handful of children’s CDs; she loves to listen to her music (quietly) and dance. She rotates through these activities during her rest time and stays happy as a clam.
4. Be flexible.
There will be days when quiet time doesn’t go as planned or gets interrupted. This is life, and you must roll with the punches sometimes. There have been plenty of days in my house when my daughter will not settle into her quiet time. Those days, I lowered my expectations a bit and either gave her the iPad or let her watch a bit of a movie in the playroom. It’s probably not the best parenting, but Mama needs to get stuff done!
5. Get a special clock.
One of the best purchases I ever made was the Tot Clock. I have one for each of my children. This is a special digital clock that you can set up to turn blue when it’s nap or bedtime and yellow when it’s time to wake up. This little clock makes my life easier during quiet time, and it’s also changed my life in the mornings.
My kids know that even if they wake up when their clock is blue (like 5:45 a.m.), they cannot get out of bed until it turns yellow (7:00 a.m.). More often than not, my early riser son will wake up and see his clock is blue, so he will lie back down and FALL BACK ASLEEP until the clock is yellow. I kid you not. The Tot Clock has saved my sanity more than I can tell you. It is worth every single penny.
6. Don’t skip weekends.
I know it’s tempting to skip quiet time during weekends because there are things to do and places to go if your weekends are anything like mine. It’s easy to think that since your toddler doesn’t nap, they’ll be fine staying out all day. And on some days, that might be true but try not to make a habit of it. Even though your toddler may not need a nap, they still need that daily rest time. If they are constantly going and overstimulated by activity on the weekends, it will be much harder for you to keep a consistent quiet time schedule during the week.
7. Offer lots of praise after each quiet time.
After each completed quiet time, offer your toddler a lot of praise for being such a big boy/girl and playing quietly in his/her room. This is important, especially in the beginning when quiet time is a new concept. Set up a sticker chart or reward jar if your toddler needs evidence of his successes. Then, let them choose a sticker to place on the chart or put a token in the reward jar after every good quiet time. When the chart is filled up, perhaps take them to the store to choose a new quiet-time toy or activity.
While it can be scary for moms to transition from nap time to quiet time, implementing these tips will help smooth the process and make it easier for moms and toddlers. Be patient and consistent with your toddler, set them up with fun, quiet play activities, and praise them for a job well done.
Good luck, Mama!