Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Quiet Time Activities for Kids Who Won't Nap

Being a first-time mom, I worried about J not getting enough sleep. She wasn't ever a really good sleeper for me. She woke up at least once a night, every night until she was 2 years old. And then most nights she would still wake up. She also stopped napping altogether by the time she was two.  So, me being 7 months pregnant at the time, I was exhausted and needed alone time, and so did J.
I remember asking my mom over and over what I was supposed to do.  She needed to have a rest time but refused to nap. I needed a rest time for myself, even if it wasn't a nap, I needed time for me to get something done. That never happened with an active two-year-old to follow me around and undo everything I was doing.

I started looking up "quiet time activities" and "why won't my toddler nap" and all sorts of other things on google, because I was convinced (with all the other opinions floating around out there) that it was abnormal for my toddler to stop napping this early. My mom put all those worries to ease by telling me that I was the same way. Which made a lot of sense, because even now almost never nap unless I'm pregnant, sick, or got no sleep the night before. So I decided that it was time to find something for her to do during quiet time.

My first attempt was putting her in her room with a few toys or a book and telling her she could sit and play for an hour while I did something for me. This worked for about two days and then she started to do things that were dangerous or that were naughty so that she could come out. One day she got the Bag Balm out of her diaper box and wiped it all over EVERYTHING. I thought it was quiet because she fell asleep, but when I went in to check on her, I found a very slippery two-year old along with slippery walls, clothes and stuffed animals. This happened several times with everything from lotions to poop and I didn't want to clean it up anymore. So bedroom quiet time was done. I needed some other ideas, which I thought I'd share with you today. Here is how we do quiet time at our house.

Movies. Some kids love them and will sit through them, others not so much. I have one of each. J would sit through a whole movie, and sometimes fall asleep, every day. It gave me at least an hour to get my to-do list done. M, on the other hand, will only sit through a few minutes alone before she comes looking for me. In this case, as long as I make sure to check on her, sit with her for a minute or two and remind her I'll be back in a little bit to check on her again, she will stay.

Stickers. Some people hate stickers, that's not the case here. If I give either of my kid's stickers and a piece of paper they will stay busy as long as the stickers don't run out. It doesn't give me as long as a movie, but it gives me a few minutes and sometimes that's all I need. We usually just buy stickers at the dollar store or at Target (most of the time I can find them in the dollar section).  I stock up when I find some and hide them until I need them. We use these to keep the girls quiet in church too.

Put them to work. A lot of times, the girls quiet time is my blogging time. When this happens and movies aren't working, I will give them "homework".  I print out letter sheets and have them sit by me and color them while I'm writing or editing or whatever I'm trying to get done. While they color, we talk about what starts with that letter. I like this option just because I feel like it's a way I can get something done without worrying that they aren't getting enough attention from me.

This was today's worksheet

Music. When all else fails, and quiet time is just not working, I turn some princess or ABC music on and let them dress up and dance while I work. This works best when they are both home and can dance together. Sometimes I can even take a break and dance with them.

For me, the key to quiet time is to find something you know they enjoy and save it for quiet time so that it feels special. The more they enjoy the activity, the more time you're going to have to yourself.

What do you do when your little one stops napping?


  1. What do I do when my kids stop napping? I cry.

    I'm only sort of kidding. I really do need that break in the middle of the day or I'm shot. Usually I make my kids lie down, and tell them if they are still with their eyes closed for 10 minutes they can come out. (Of course I have to be in the room with them or it doesn't work - I bring a book or my computer or take a nap myself.) Half the time my 4-year-old still falls asleep, even though she pitches a fit about naptime, doesn't seem tired, and wouldn't sleep if I wasn't in there with her.

    1. My mom used to tell me the same thing at bed time but she made it 5 minutes. I never made it past two minutes. Sometimes I use that trick when I'm super tired but my husband won't stop talking haha.