There comes a day in every child’s life where they stop taking daily naps. We don’t know when it will strike, and we dread the day it will. We don’t know how much peace and quiet means to us until it is ripped from our sleep deprived hands. However, not all is lost. Many of you have implemented “quiet time” or “rest time” or “play in your room and leave me the heck alone time” when your child stops napping. For most kids, this happens from 3.5-5 years of age. My oldest was around 3.5 when he stopped napping in the afternoon. Even now, at 5, he’ll snooze when he’s really tired or when he’s in the car over nap time. We’ve tried quiet time with moderate success. He’s never been an independent player, and still comes out to see what I’m doing over rest time. It’s a good day when I can get about 45 minutes of him playing on his own. I do try to read and snuggle with him when he is just over rest time, but I do think it’s important to try to get him to play on his own for at least a little bit, so he learns independence and creativity that isn’t always directed by an adult.
A few things have helped us keep our moderately successful rest time, though, so I thought I would pass them along:
- Leave a baby gate up when you first start rest time. This provides a visual for them, and helps them know that they should stay in their room without fully closing the door.
- Set a timer in increasing amounts until they get used to the new schedule. When you’re first starting out, you may set the timer for 15 minutes (hey, it’s better than nothing) and then increase to 25 minutes, 45 minutes, an hour. Of course, some of your kids may do great at independent play and you might not even need this step.
- Set out quiet time specific toys. Take a few toys and games and put them in a bin just for quiet time. Here are a few ideas:
- Audio books: When your child hits 4 or 5 especially, audio books are gold! We check out our audio books from the library. The Magic Tree House Series and the Chronicles of Narnia series have been hits on audio. These are also great for road trips.
- Magnetic Tiles. These are amazing and occupy my kids for so long! It’s fun to see what they can build. We have these, but these are also super popular.
- Legos. Classic, obvious choice, but it needs to be included! We also check out lego creation books from the library.
- Castle Logix: This is a new addition to our arsenal, and it is amazing! It is a block challenge game with pictures of different ways you can arrange the castle blocks. It’s completely visual so no reading required, and it is so much fun.
- Kinetic Sand: I say this one with a HUGE caveat: Have your child play this on the deck or something outside and not inside, lest you want to find sand everywhere for dayyyys. But kinetic sand is pretty fun and memorizing, and it will let you get work done around the house, even if they aren’t in their room.
- Set of mess free arts and crafts, like reusable sticker pads and paint with water books.
- Puzzles for little ones that don’t require a lot of parental help. Ideas here, here, here, and here. When they get bigger, puzzles like these that take up the whole floor are super fun.
- Lacing boards. We have these at our library and love them!
- Magnetic outfit dolls.
- Simple dress up clothes.