My kids have always needed their naps. In the past I have usually put all my kids down to nap around 1pm. It has only been recently that my oldest daughter (4 yrs) has not been tired as early in the day as my other two children.
Living in a small 2 bedroom apartment adds some complications when kids are not on the same schedule. To be honest, there is only a small window that kids are on the exact same nap schedule. Lucky for me, it is when I choose to get pregnant and so morning sickness is more doable.
With a newborn, a two year old, and a four year old who is slowly growing out of needing naps, we do quite the juggling act at this small little house. It changes and adapts very often, but currently I feel that we are on a decent schedule that meets everyone’s needs. Including this mommy!
All three of my kids share the same big room, with their toys! It has taken a lot of practice, consistency, and failures, but they ALL sleep in there at night. I do feel that the reason for this is their consistent daytime sleep routine. Babies are a whole different story that maybe I will share later, but usually Baby James takes his daytime naps in my room next to a fan so we can continue our daily activities.
Our afternoon nap goes like this! After lunch my girls have a few minutes to play. We get drinks, go potty, and then I put my two year old down for her nap. She still sleeps in her crib. Now that my preschooler is not tired at that time of day anymore, if I put her in the room with her sister they would laugh, sing, and keep each other up until they are both delirious. Madison (4) now gets a quiet time for about an hour.
During her quiet time she is always welcome to play independently. At this age, I don’t usually want to take her desire to play away and force her mind elsewhere. However, she usually chooses to do some sort of structured activity. Especially with her little sister asleep, she loves having the quiet time to work with me. Our quiet time tentatively follows this schedule:
Responsibilities – 5 minutes
Time with Mom – 15 minutes
Independent Time – 25 minutes
After this time is up, usually around 2 pm, we sneak into her room and she takes a nap alongside her sister until 4pm. (they know not to get up till they see the 4 on the clock)
This is the short transition time that I am straightening up the house and kitchen after lunch. In the past, Madison was impatiently following me around asking ‘what we were going to do?’ ‘Is it Friday?’ ‘Can we play a game?’ Instead of constantly telling her to be patient or loosing my patience, I just gave her a responsibility. Currently she is in charge of clearing and wiping off the table, plus she picks up any spare food that got dropped (or thrown on the floor). Having a fairly tidy house during nap time allows me to actually enjoy my time instead of feeling stressed about cleaning.
Time with Mom
This is Madison’s favorite time of course. I love it too. With three little kids, I don’t get to spend tons of one on one time with my kids. She especially loves to learn and do activities that the babies would honestly probably ruin or interrupt. We use this time to play games, explore numbers (age appropriate math), and we just started working with phonics and sight words.
Math ten square activity
This is the time that she works/plays quietly by herself. If she cannot keep to herself she knows that I will start telling her to go to the bathroom and get a drink so she can go take her nap. She has learned that if she is independent, she can usually squeeze a little more time out of me. However, during this time I take out activities. Puzzles are a favorite. We have done cutting practice which is difficult at first, but we are getting better at. Writing and tracing numbers and letters is a must. Her personal favorite activity is books on CD. You can usually get these at your local library. For non-readers they have a signal that let her know when to turn a page! It is awesome!
There you have it! That is our quiet/nap time. We make it work with just one bedroom for both my girls. I even plan to get my son in there when he takes the long afternoon nap. Cross your fingers!
Oh and Friday is a special day. It is a movie afternoon. After her typical quiet time routine she gets to watch a movie till her sister wakes up. NO NAP! Her life literally revolves around Friday.
My sanity as a mother has revolved around a long consistent nap time. Someday my kids will not have naps, I know. Hopefully we can find a routine that fits our needs then. Till then…