Getting a Toddler to Nap or Have Quiet Time

The frantic, fabulous or ferocious fours–which one is it?! A few weeks ago, in tears I was googling and reading every article I could about a child in their FOURS.  I originally thought that it was the terrible twos and the three-teens, but never heard anything said about the fours.  Well after doing about an hour of research, I found some evidence that the fours aren’t all peaches and cream.IMG_4649 2Let me back up and give some context of mothering my current four year old.  Reid is about as good of a kid as I could imagine.  I used to call him my angel baby and angel boy–he has his faults, but y’all he is innately a pretty awesome kid.  I cannot take credit for it, he has a wonderful personality and zest for life.

However, about a month before he turned 4–he became a bear!  He was fussy and moody and just not his usual happy go lucky self.  He started hitting his brother, stealing toys from Walker, having tantrums, yelling at me and being overly demanding (so much for my angel child!).IMG_1678So one rainy Thursday afternoon, I felt defeated, I felt run down and I felt like a straight up failure of a mother.  I also felt a sadness that I would never get to play with that joyful little boy anymore and that my baby had grown up into this boy that was no longer interested in pleasing his mother or cuddling on the couch.  I was pretty devastated and felt like I had lost my child (yes, I understand I was being a tad dramatic but I couldn’t help the overwhelming sense of loss).

After talking *in tears, again* to my husband later that evening, I realized that while my little boy was definitely growing up and won’t stay little forever–I didn’t lose him, he was still the same boy just going through some developmental adjustments.  We discussed how his schedule had changed and how I had stopped fighting and demanding he nap.  Then it was like an aha! moment, Drew needs his sleep or he is miserable to be around–and Reid may be just like his daddy!

So the next day, after more researching and listening to podcasts about how to get children to nap; I decided to give my four year old the option of quiet time either in my room or his room.  Of course, he picked my room and I showed him the clock and told him that he could play with his toys for 30 minutes.  I instructed him to count to 30 and showed him the time on the clock, so he could see that it wasn’t that long of a period of time.  Surprisingly, he agreed and 20 minutes later I found him sleeping soundly in my bed!IMG_4825Since that day, we have continued to do 30 minutes of quiet time which most of the time turns into him napping.  And much like his daddy, when Reid gets good sleep he is a happy person!  The beauty of the quiet time is that I’m not saying nap time, it is his choice if he naps and he feels in control because he picks which room to sleep in and which toys he wants.IMG_2278I understand that developmentally it is all about independence, so this is the best solution for us (in this moment) to allow him the decision to nap or play quietly, where to be and gives him clear guidelines on the amount of time he will be upstairs.  It has drastically helped our family and has allowed me to keep my little angel boy a little bit longer 🙂IMG_2570

TIPS and TRICKS on getting your 4 year old to nap/quiet time:

  • Make it their choice to nap or to have quiet time (I no longer say we are going to take a nap or lay down, I simply state that it is time for quiet time)
  • Allow them to choose where to have quiet time (for me, I want Reid to fall asleep which means a bed is the best choice)
  • Make quiet time a no electronics zone (We tried the TV at first during quiet time but Reid would never fall asleep.  Remember it is okay for your kids to be bored and forced to play with toys or read!)
  • Allow your kids to pick special toys they want to play with (Reid sometimes brings up trucks or a puzzle or books.  More involved toys, like blocks or a race track, keep him from napping so keeping it simple is best!)
  • Have your toddler count the amount of minutes they will be in quiet time and show them on a clock (I always have Reid count and tell him what the numbers on the clock will be when quiet time is over.  Warning if they have a regular clock, you may come upstairs and find your child trying to move the hands haha!!)
  • Reiterate that it is important that they have quiet time as you need to get work done or clean or something that is mundane for them (no FOMO on folding laundry!) and that you promise to get them after the set amount of time.
  • Get them at the promised time, unless of course they are napping!! I want to make sure that Reid knows he can trust me and that I will do what I tell him I will do–so even if I have one more chore I want to get done or mile I want to run, I will stop and check on him.
  • Side note: After Reid having two accidents on my brand new duvet cover, I have convinced him to wear his “super hero” pull ups during quiet time.  Luckily, he doesn’t seem to mind 🙂
  • Enjoy your 30 minutes of peace!IMG_1612

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