Over the past few months the afternoons have brought upon a lot of change in our house. L essentially dropped her afternoon nap when she turned 2…she took about one or two a month. We stuck to routine and put her in her crib everyday for at least an hour. Most day’s L bounced around for the entire hour and a few days she’d bounce herself to sleep. Then came the change out of her crib (so WB could use it) and into a “big girl bed.”
For a month or two she stayed in her “big girl bed” or at least in her room playing quietly for an hour, but then she learned how to open her door. We put a child lock on the door and it took her about 5 minutes to learn how to take that off. For a week or two “quiet time” became the very worst hour of the day, every day. I would spend the hour marching L back up the stairs and into her room…I tried threatening to take toys away. I tried rewarding her with stickers or special activities to follow quiet time. I tried holding the door shut so she’d think it was locked. None of it worked and none of it seemed like the right thing to do. We’d have a great day all day, but when quiet time came it’d end with us both in tears and doubly-stressed out. So I took a step back and I thought about it…and I came up with a plan.
I realized that naps were definitely long gone. L really does fine without a nap and it results in an earlier bedtime…7 PM and both girls are sound asleep. (Yay for this exhausted mom at the end of the day!) I also realized that really the #1 reason L wanted out of her room was that she just wanted to be with me. If I’m trying to hold the door closed or lock her in there and she’s just miserable, what’s the point? And if it makes me miserable on the other side of the door and/or wakes her sleeping sister up, truly what’s the point? Quiet time is to give us all a break. A mental break if nothing else.
So I came up with some new rules and some new activities to keep L occupied while I clean dishes, reply to emails, read the paper, fold laundry…whatever I need to do for 30 quiet minutes. If I keep an open-door-policy with L, so she can go in and out of her room, up and down the stairs, there are no more arguments and she tends to stay in her room longer! I’ve also come up with a number of ACTIVITY BAGS to keep her quietly occupied.
The following are some of L’s “quiet time activity bags.” You can make your own just by going through your drawers, recycling basket, and your craft supplies and look for safe materials that will keep a little one entertained. I give L an activity bag a few days a week, rotating them so they always seem new to her. On days when she’s already happy playing with blocks or coloring, I just let her keep to herself while I get my own chores done.
Paper bag, 2 paper cups, egg carton, sheet of felt, poof balls, googlie eyes, feathers, straw, buckeyes
Paper bag, snack container full of beads, shoe lace (for stringing beads), pipe cleaners, silicone muffin cups, painted buckeye, hopping frog toy
Shoe box, cardboard tubes, cotton balls, tissue paper, Little People, colored craft sticks
Paper bag, I Spy book, straw, pipe cleaners, feather, spools, slinky
foam floor puzzle/mats, Water Wow book, Magna Doodle
The following two activities take a little more prep time, but it’s a fun surprise to keep your kid occupied!
Tea Party set-up: cardboard box, blanket, tea set, empty honey bottle, pretend cupcake, poof balls and spoon, napkins
Teepee…everything’s better in a teepee (DIY No Sew Teepee)
Notice all the bags include lots of creative possibilities. Beads can be strung on a shoelace or on pipe cleaners, feathers can be put into straws; cotton balls can be blown across the floor with a straw; things can be sorted or dumped from cup to cup; the cardboard box under the tea party can be flipped over and become a rocket ship! For more ideas, check out the Imagination Box too! Like always, you know your child, make sure anything you leave in your child’s room is SAFE for them to play with unattended or semi-unattended! (I still turn the video monitor on when I leave L with beads in her room!)
What do you think? Do you have this problem in your house? Has quiet time and nap time become a disaster? What do you all do to make it through the afternoon with a toddler who won’t nap?