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Struggling with Naps: Our Quiet Time Experiment

Nap time at our house is something we have struggled with on and off for the past several months. Most days, both of my kids really need to take a nap, and if they don’t, they are not fun to be around from about 4:30 until they finally pass out at bed time.

Actually getting them to take a nap though was becoming an ordeal, and sometimes a struggle. Some days it would take me an hour to an hour and a half to get them asleep and in their beds, and then they would wake up an hour later. And then we would struggle to get them to go to sleep again at bedtime.

More and more it was becoming easier to let them skip their nap because I didn’t want to deal with the amount of time, and the struggle, that it took to get them to sleep. And it made bedtime easier too. On the days they didn’t take naps, they would fall asleep quickly and easily, and my husband and I would finally have our evenings back.

But, them not taking naps was really not working for us either. I know at their ages a lot of kids have given up their naps, or don’t need a nap every single day. But, on days they didn’t nap, they would be tired and cranky, and I would be tired and cranky because I didn’t get that break in the day that I’m so used to. Also, with our new baby due to to arrive in June, I knew I needed to work on a better routine for them, that required less time from me, and still gave them the break and rest that they needed.

So, I decided to try a different approach. An afternoon quiet time. And while this has only been our first week of doing it, so far I would say it has been really successful and really helped our days to run more smoothly.
I read this post, over on Motherhood…Your Way, and followed Mandi’s suggestions for implementing a daily quiet time routine. I was a little worried about how they would handle it, but actually it’s gone really well this week.

I took the suggestion in the post to separate my kiddos, because I’ve tried just leaving them alone in their shared room, hoping they’ll fall asleep on their own, and it usually turns into mass chaos where they’re both bouncing off the walls and ripping apart their room.

So every other day, one of them gets to have quiet time in Mommy and Daddy’s bed, and one of them stays in their own bed. I allow them to pick a quiet activity or two, a few books, and some stuffed animals to take into bed with them.  The rules are that they have to stay in bed and play quietly, and if they feel like they are tired, they need to lie down and go to sleep.

I thought I might have to start with just a 30 minute quiet time and get them used to the new routine, but the first day, my daughter fell asleep within 20 minutes, and my son was a little more reluctant to stay in bed, but I just kept working with him, putting him back in his bed, and reminding him of the rules. Even though he didn’t fall asleep, he ended up in quiet time for about an hour and a half, which is definitely success in my book.

The rest of the days have also gone well. On Tuesday they both fell asleep and slept for a good hour and half, which meant quiet time really lasted for more like 2 1/2 hours!

I’m really liking this new quiet time routine — it only takes me about 10 minutes to get them both settled, a huge difference from the hour or more it was taking me, which makes me feel better and more productive in the afternoon. I like that they are learning to play independently and quietly by themselves, a skill that I think is important for kids to get to practice, and I think the alone time, separated from each other is really good for them too.

Even when they used to nap every day, they would wake up kind of grouchy and be fighting with each other and whiny to me. Now, after quiet time, they have been playing really nicely together, which makes the afternoon, and dinner preparation, a much easier time than the witching hour that it normally is.

So, I know this won’t work for every kid, or in every situation, but if you’re struggling with nap time, I’d encourage you to give the quiet time routine a try!  I plan to continue this even as my kids give up their afternoon naps for good!

Do you have an afternoon quiet time routine for your kids? How have you implemented quiet time in your house?

Read more from Emily on Live Renewed!
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