From one nap to NO nap. What is life?!
Whether bedtime is becoming a 10:00 pm disaster, or your kiddo is just downright refusing to nap.. initiating some quiet time might be just what you need right now.
First questions to ask…
Is this a phase?
Prior to the final transition to no nap, you till likely have several “no nap” phases. Some lasting a couple of weeks, and others just a few days at a time. Around age 2 it is very common to see kiddos protest nap. The “I’m NOT tired” and the occasional, 20 minute nap definitely happen and you roll with it as best you can.
When I did want my kiddo to hold on to their nap as long as possible, and figured they weren’t ready to go without, I insisted on quiet time each day in their room. I don’t do this now, because quite honestly, I don’t want my kids to sleep most days.
For you people who DO want your children to have quiet time every day, or those of you who have nap resisters… I am here to help!
Here are my quick and easy tips on getting your child to spend some quality alone time in their room each day, and if they are tired my guess is.. they will legitimately fall asleep.
1. Convince them this is a good idea
How you pull this one off is really up to you! Think about your child and think about something that would be intrinsically motivating for them. Talking about them with it is also a good idea. “What do you think we will have more energy to do after we have some quiet time? Perhaps we would have enough energy this afternoon to make some water balloons, or go on a special walk to that park you love with the BIG slide? If we don’t rest.. we will probably be too tired to walk that far. Let’s see if we can rest!” If the suggestion comes from your child, even better! They will be much more likely to work towards something they envisioned as a good idea themselves.
2. Start off small
Rome wasn’t built in a day people. Sure you have the option of locking your child in the room, setting the timer for an hour, and refusing to take them out until you hear DING! But, if you’ve been following me a while you know this probably would not be my first go-to strategy as we make an effort to consciously parent our children here, and treat them how we would want to be treated. When was the last time you were caged willingly? College maybe? hehe.
My kids are super into music, as well as, books read aloud. I used these to my advantage at first, and convinced them to stay in their room for one song. We built a special fort outside their bed with some pillows and stuffies, and they laid in their new “special spot, or cozy corner” for quiet time. I asked them to rest for 1 song. Just 1 song. Not 2. Not 5. 1. They did so willingly, easily, and I came in to congratulate them after it was done.
Read your child on this one, and follow their lead. They may need you to stay with them the first few times and that is okay. Hey! Downtime for toddler and downtime for parents at the same time, that is a good thing!
3. Coach them through
Congratulate them for a job well done. Great quiet resting today! Let’s see if we have enough energy now to make it to the special park!
4. Help them along through quiet play
Each day you will try to extend the time that they can be left alone in their room. Songs are great for children to be able to have a tangible focus, and some amusement. Having an old CD player that can play children’s music, or books on disc is great to have in your child’s room.
See if with each passing day you might be able to add one song, or one story. If they come out and tell you they are done, I would just roll with it. Better not to push your luck! Think short term pain for long-term gain. Yes today may be a long day if they don’t rest as much as you wish. Yes you may need to utilize some TV time to make it through the rest of the afternoon, but tomorrow is a new day, and tomorrow they just might do better!
Encourage some quiet play with some safe toys in between each song. You can come in and do this with them. Ensure whatever toys you do have in your child’s room are completely safe to be used unsupervised so that when they do get better at this, you can leave them fully alone to play.
If you doooooooo really want them to fall asleep – you will have to build mega trust that you are coming back to check on them, and get them really good at waiting for you. The longer they wait quietly in their cozy corner, the more likely they are to actually fall asleep in the pauses as they trust and wait for you to come back!
5. Fulfill your promises
If you said you would check on them, check on them. If you said you would go to the park after quiet time, go to the park. Meet their need for power and attention before they call out to you to have that need met!
7. Be consistent
You can’t just do this on the days it works for you. If you are setting an expectation that this is part of your daily routine, it should truly happen each day, and not just when it is “convenient” for you.
And most importantly…
Don’t let it become a power struggle. Once you are in a power struggle with your toddler, you’ve already lost. Try to keep the expectations super small at first so your child can be successful! The more successful they are, the better they are likely to do on the days that follow. Yes you may need to stay with them at first. And yes you may need to start off very small. But your little one might really surprise you as to how much resting time they are able to do when they feel that they have been heard and validated in making this choice.
People often ask if I work with toddlers or preschoolers? Yup. Loads. Toddler sleep challenges can be VERY challenging, but I love trying to figure them out. This is a great place to utilize a mini consultation , or just book me for an hour or two to brainstorm with you. Two heads are better than one, and you might be really surprised at what we come up with together to make your life a whole lot easier!
Good luck! Soldier on good parents.
Thank you Astrid Miller Photography for these beautiful images of my sweet and zesty Halle.