Tuesday, November 2, 2010

How a 3 Year Old Naps

All moms have been there, right? The exact age varies by child, but usually around age 3 or 4, they stop napping every day.

They don't think they need that rest, but the meltdowns that begin around 5PM if they don't get a nap argue otherwise.

Even as actual naps subside, I insist on rest time. During the summer when my older kids were home, even my 7 year old had rest time. They don't have to sleep, but they must do something quietly, alone, for 45 minutes to an hour, like look at books, read (if they can), or play by themselves in their room.

Rest time maintains my sanity. It is, some days, my only break from the constant chatter, yelling, neediness, and messes.

I've found with all three of my kids that they go through a long period, lasting a year or more, where they don't nap every day, but more like every 3rd day. They try to stay up and just play quietly, but sometimes their little bodies just cave to the sleep.

This is how I found my 3 year old at the end of rest time today:

Completely passed out on the floor in the hallway on top of his Big Duke dog!

Because I like to be practical and not just say, "I insist on rest time," I'm going to break it down into how I have kept rest time through the years.

Each of my kids has gone through phases of challenging rest time, like the 7 year old at the beginning of summer or the 2 year old who is suddenly able to climb out of the crib.

But, you must stick to enforcing it and the phase will pass in a few days and you will have won yourself several more months of fairly drama-free rest times.

When kids are old enough to understand it (maybe around age 4) a great consequence for coming out of their room or being too loud during rest time is to tell them that because they are not resting, they now have 5 more minutes added to their rest time. And increase it as they protest more. They will get the message. Even my most stubborn one did!

With 2 and 3 year olds what has worked well for me is to allow them to choose if their door is opened or closed as I put them down for a nap, then if they come out too much or get too loud, I say, "Since you feel like being loud, I'll have to close your door." And my younger 2 hated this! They'd scream and cry and after a few minutes I'd open the door back and ask if they were ready to be quiet. If so then they could have their door opened again. But, if they are loud again or came out, I had to follow through right away and go back and close the door again, this time leaving it shut for a longer time.

It makes for a very tiresome rest time for a few days when you have a kid going through a period of challenging it, and it is so tempting to just let them get up, but trust me, stick with it, otherwise you will have lost the rest time war, possibly forever!

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  1. Good advice. I love rest time.

    When you said a break from the noise I started wondering how I could get a fourteen year old and a twelve year old to rest on the weekends.

  2. Funny that you should post this. My two year old just decided to stop napping. My oldest did the exact same thing at two. We are in the middle of the battle as we speak, but I think I'm losing!

  3. A lot of moms frown upon rest time, I find.
    I, on the other hand...embrace it like a long lost relative coming to see me with tons of goodies!
    I started this with ,y two 1/2 year old, I tell him, he doesn't need to nap just rest your eyes and close ''em.. He protest, but eventually, he;s out. :) Comes in handy when you have a 6month old too!

  4. Isn't it funny how little ones can sllep any where any way. Please feel free to link up at my blog also.

  5. This is a GREAT idea, as my son hits 3 Saturday. I love the passed out photo too!

  6. That is excellent advice, and definitely something I will use in the future! My 3 year old naps awesome on the weekends and sucks at it during the week. He's like me he catches up on all his sleep on the weekends!

  7. Mine did NOT get past this phase after a few days. After two solid weeks of spending literally my entire afternoon fighting this battle, I decided that HAVING an afternoon (and not wanting to wring my child's neck) was more important than telling her she needed to take a nap.

  8. I did EXACTLY (well almost) the same thing....all of my boys were 3 years apart so I was only dealing with 1 of that age at a time. Mel is 6 years younger than the boys so it was always just her at home when she was young. Here is what my kids would here....You DON'T have to nap but this is mama's quiet time...soo YOU must be quiet...you may play quietly IN your room...HOWEVER if you are too loud, or come out of the room you may no longer play, it will be on your bed trying to nap, or just reading books" It only took 1 time of following through with this with all of them and it was just never a problem...3 and 4 year olds are plenty old enough to follow this kind of concept or rule. I got 45 minutes EVERY day of uninterrrupted quiet... and there was the occasional time I would come to their room to tell them quiet time was over and find them just like that darling pic of your son, haha...you know I have really been wondering recently if I was a much harsher (or stricker or something) mom than so many of the young mom's I know today or what because I hear sooo many of them whose kids call the shots. They tell me, "Oh he/she WON'T do that. It coud be go to bed at a certain time (I am not saying sleep, but it usually followed, haha) or sit at the table until excused, give up their bottle before 3, drink milk without choc sauce in it, take a bath every night, etc. etc. etc. I am not saying my kids were perfect and did what I told them ALL the time (what a joke) but certain areas they knew what the consequences would be and they just didn't do it. I love reading this post of yours as I love to see young mom's who LOVE LOVE their kids, and yet still win the battles...Have a wonderful day...HUGS

  9. I like your advice. My 3 year has passed out like this a couple of times. So cute.

  10. This post comes at such a good time. I like my 5 year old to have quiet time while my 2 year old naps, but he keeps coming an interrupting MY quiet time. Thanks for the advice!

  11. This summer after school ended, I sat down with my 5 & 6 year olds with a clock. I showed them that during the school year, bedtime was 7:30, but now that summer was here, they would be able to stay up until 9:00. The only caveat would be a mandatory rest time. This worked out great for us - they knew if there was no rest - bedtime would be back to 7:30 that day.

  12. I do the very same thing. My kids are 11, 8, and 5, and have rest time everyday. (I homeschool, so a break from noise is a must!) In fact it is rest time right now. :)

  13. What a great tip! I love rest time. I just never feel like I get enough of it! HA!


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