November 12, 2010

When Nap Time Ends, Rest Time Begins!

"I don't want him to stop napping," she says with a groan.


"I dread the time that my daughter quits her nap," she says, shoulders dropping, wondering if she'll ever have any time to herself. ever. in her life.

Have you ever been in one of these conversations?  Every parent laments the termination of naps; how precious are those 1-2 quiet hours in the day?  It's a wonderful time for everyone to have a break from one another, perhaps especially if you are an introverted mom that really needs time to think!

I'm thankful that I had a friend* with a daughter several years older than mine who told me a little secret about rest times!  Okay, it wasn't really a secret, but it is one GREAT idea.

If your child is ready to give up his or her nap, that's fine.  They do grow out of it at some point; it's developmentally normal and reasonable.  But every person, regardless of their age, benefits from a little rest in their day.  Enter:  the rest time.

the general plan:
Nap time is replaced by some time alone in their bed or bedroom.  Provide your child with a special box or bag of things to do (quiet toys, games, drawing supplies, books), set an alarm so they know when the time is up, and leave them to it!

It can take some time to learn to stay in their rooms, but be consistent and they'll get it.

at our house:
Elizabeth takes a 45 minute rest and then I let her watch one half-hour television show.  During her rest time she has access to a large bag of library books (so they're constantly changing), markers and paper, and really anything else she wants.  She has her rest time on our bed, because our children don't have their own rooms.  Ironically, her rest times are rarely very quiet; she sings and talks to herself a lot!  Nevertheless I notice a negative difference in her evening behavior on days that she does not have this alone time.

For the record, the transition can take some time.  Early on, you may end up finding your resting child fast asleep.  I present to you Exhibit A:

There's no dread about Brian dropping his nap in the coming year or so, simply a plan to teach him to spend some time alone in his bed after lunchtime each day!

*Special thanks to Mary Kathryn for giving me this idea so many years ago.


  1. rest time is so important in our house too!! rarely does h fall asleep, but it's wonderful to have some alone time, and for kids to learn how to be alone and play or read by themselves. and on the rare day she does sleep i totally enjoy some extra mommy time! :)

  2. we love rest time! we started from your suggestion, so thanks, Heather! Frankie stopped napping before she turned 3, and is an adamant "rest timer". If I suggest that maybe she's tired and should take a nap, she gets really adamant about rest time!