Learn how to transition from nap to quiet time for kids with these simple tips. Plus, get ideas for toys and books to spark their creativity.
Nap Transition to Quiet Time for Kids
We all know it’s coming…the day that our toddler drops his or her last nap.
Questions begin to plague us. Will I ever get any me time again? What can I do to entertain my toddler another two hours that doesn’t involve a screen? Is it possible to get my toddler to stay in their room for a little bit so I can recharge?
The answer to these questions depends on your specific desires and needs as a parent. For myself, I know that in order for me to be the best mom I can be, I need a good recharge midday. I need some alone time to read a book, have a snack, and get some work done on my computer. Your break will look different based on your hobbies and things you do to feel recharged.
Note: Personally, I do not do housework when my kids are napping or having quiet time. I do things I can’t focus on as well when the kids are around. Housework is something I can do with the kids around so they can watch, learn and help out too.
Two Signs Your Toddler Is Ready to Drop Naps
First, when it is nap time, your toddler struggles for a while before finally falling asleep. What once took 5-10 minutes for them to settle down, now takes 30+ minutes and you are constantly going in the room to calm them.
Second, your toddler still takes a nap no problem, but then bedtime is a nightmare! It gets pushed way later than normal or your toddler continually comes out of their room saying they aren’t tired.
Once both of these signs are happening consistently and often, your toddler is most likely ready to drop their last nap. Every toddler is different. We have had two that struggled with falling asleep at naptime first, and one that still napped great but then wanted to stay up all night.
Keep in mind, there are other things that can cause your toddler to struggle with naps and bedtime. Teething, feeling poorly, over-stimulated, too much sugar, etc. Before you make the decision to stop laying them down for a nap, make sure these two signs are happening consistently and not from other causes.
How To Transition to Quiet Time for Kids:
Once your toddler shows the signs that they don’t need a nap anymore, what’s next?
As a mom of 4 kids, I highly recommend implementing a quiet time immediately. Quiet time isn’t just beneficial for mom. Kids benefit greatly from quiet time as well. Quiet time allows for kids to play with toys alone, without feeling pressure to share. It allows for your introverted kids to recharge after being stimulated all morning, while on the flip side, your extroverted kids learn how to calm down and spend some time alone.
Now that you know the benefits of quiet time, let’s talk about how to make the transition. The first step is to start small. Think about the average time your kids play independently while you are running around getting stuff done, whether that’s 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or an hour. Start with that amount of time for a few days, and then slowly increase by 5-10 minute increments until you reach a length that is healthy for yourself and your kids. My kids (ages 4, 6 and 7) now have a 2-hour quiet time right after lunch.
The second step is to make it fun. Don’t tell your kids that mommy needs a break (even if that is true). Explain to them that breaks and alone time are good for everyone. It’s a time where they can play with toys or look at books and not have to share. Build a mini fort in their quiet time space to make it a fun and enjoyable experience.
The third step is to gather toys, books, activities for your kids to use in their room during quiet time.
Open Ended Toys for Quiet Time for Kids
As the name suggests, quiet time should be a time all about creating an environment of calm, focus, and creativity. If possible, remove toys that make noise, have flashing lights and anything else that over-stimulates.
I find the best way to do this is to have toys set aside specifically for quiet time that are open ended toys. Open ended toys are toys that grow with your kids and allow them to use their imagination and be creative. Things like Legos, cars, wood blocks, magna-tiles, bristle blocks, brain flakes, plastic toy animals, etc.
In our house, the kid’s rooms do not have toys in them other than stuffed animals. I keep a cabinet with plastic bins in it. Each bin has a different type of open-ended toy in it that they are allowed to choose for their quiet time.
By keeping the toys out of their rooms and up most of the day, they are not overwhelmed with options. They also tend to play for longer lengths of time with toys that they are not allowed access to anytime they want.
Book Ideas for Quiet Time for Kids
Another favorite option for quiet time is books. Lots and lots of books.
We make a weekly trip to the library, and the kids love to sit and look at all of the new books. New books every week keeps them excited, and they don’t bore as easily.
A bookshelf at home filled with favorite books is a great option too. Books with lots of bright, colorful pictures and lots of details keep them entertained and studying for longer periods of time. Usborne books are a favorite at our house, especially their lift-a-flap series.
Finally, we love love love our Yoto player! We are an almost completely screen-free family. No tablets in our house and very little tv time. The Yoto player gives my kids an option to listen to audiobooks without a screen while they sit quietly and play.
The Most Important Part of Quiet Time for Kids
Set expectations ahead of time and stay consistent!
Let your kids know reasons they are and are not able to come out of their rooms. When they pick out a toy and/or a few books, can they come out and trade them? Can they come out for water or are you sending it in with them? Can they come ask you questions whenever they want? If you still have one kid taking a nap and they wake up earlier than expected, are you letting the big kids out or do they finish quiet time?
Note: For my oldest, I found that it helps her to have a visual by putting a clock in her room with an alarm set. Another great option for younger kids is an ok to wake clock that turns green when they can come out.
Try these tips and let me know in the comments if you have any questions or additional tips I should add!
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