Believe it or not, all of our children so far have taken a good 1-2 hour-long nap in the afternoon every day until they were around 5 years old. Most people who know this are surprised that they need this much sleep, and especially that they comply with a designated naptime at that age. Honestly, I never thought about this as being out of the ordinary because all of the research out there about sleep tells us that this is exactly what kids need! Without it, my kids were easily frustrated, overly rambunctious and were just plain ornery.
I attribute years of successful naps to SleepBuddy. There’s no doubt in my mind that it’s made it possible for them to doze off each day because they were used to the routine of lying down around the same time every day with their SleepBuddy. The expectation of not seeing Mommy until it turned off two hours later was part of their every day life and they came to covet their daily naps.
With that said, Emily recently turned 5 and I knew it was about that time for her to drop her nap. It had been getting harder and harder for her to fall asleep at night and it was taking her longer in the afternoon to actually squeeze in a substantial nap without it getting too late into the evening. In our home, if you’re too old for a nap, you are expected to have what we call “quiet time”. This is a 2-hour chunk of time in the afternoon where everyone has time alone to re-group for the rest of the day. Unless they have schoolwork to complete, they can do anything as long as it’s quiet, such as read, color, play with Legos or dolls, etc.
I didn’t quite know what to expect when we decided to forego Emily’s nap and allow her to have “quiet time.” Would she constantly be coming out of the room since she wasn’t confined to the bed anymore? Would she be able to occupy her time without needing me or her siblings to entertain her? Would she become restless and destructive with all that time on her hands?
The first day of “quiet time” for Emily began with me setting her up in my bedroom (where she usually took her nap) with a place to color, a snuggle spot to read, along with a few toys. I told her the rules of “quiet time” and asked her if she understood. She looked at me, then she looked at the SleepBuddy sitting on my dresser, then said, “Yes, I understand. But Mommy, how will I know when it’s time to come out? Will my SleepBuddy work even if I’m not sleeping?”
I realized right then that she had found the answer to what worried me about this new routine. All she needed were some guidelines and to know that there was a definite end to her alone time. In her little mind, just knowing her SleepBuddy would turn off gave her the peace she needed to remain in the room and entertain herself for the two-hour “quiet time.” She already understood the SleepBuddy Motto when it was time to sleep/nap. Transferring that to her new “quiet time” routine was simple: “When your SleepBuddy is on, stay and play quietly in the room. When it turns off you can come out!”
It’s been two weeks now with all three of my older children are enjoying their special alone time in the afternoon. Even though Emily is a little cranky sometimes around dinnertime, this new change has been a positive, successful one with the help of her trusted companion, SleepBuddy!