Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Blessed Nap Hour

Moms, am I speaking your language? If not, I should be. ;)

One of the key things that has kept me sane over the last eighteen years of mothering is "The Blessed Nap Hour"! In our home, it typically last longer than an hour. ;) But an hour is a great place to start!

I hear some of you now .... "well, my child quit taking naps when they turned ONE!". Yep, most of ours would have too, if we'd let them. So bear with me. Also, here is a great 'lil secret, just because your kids don't actually SLEEP doesn't mean they don't need REST.

I'm really surprised by the number of families I see with whiny-in-the-afternoon/evening-children. It really doesn't have to be this way! It really SHOULDN'T be this way. Often when a child is cranky, whiny and irritable late in the day, it's simply because they are tired. Kids (and MOMMAS) get over-stimulated and need a bit of "down time". Even children who don't sleep much need REST. Children who are often labeled as "busy" {dare I say a tinge hyper} NEED down time!!! They need an opportunity to calm down and regroup.

Isn't it amazing how we wonder why our kids don't know how to sit and be quiet at places like doctor's waiting rooms and church, but we never incorporate QUIET into their lives during the week? Ding-ding-ding!!! :)

Interesting to me is that we live in a society that is SO overly obsessed with their babies sleeping through the night, but see NOTHING unusual about toddlers and young children who are constantly over-tired and whiny from 2 o'clock on! So, moms of littles ... if your children are cranky and irritable from 4-7 each evening, don't lose heart! There is a GREAT way to fix this!!!! Those hours can be some of the BEST you've ever experienced!

So what does this look like? Here's a few practical tips. This post isn't targeted for newborns and babies, so we're gonna start at the toddler phase.

  • Be sure your child gets lots of opportunity to be busy and work off energy in the mornings. Unless it is 150 degrees above or below zero, TRY to get in at least a half hour of outside time! Nothing like running/playing hard and fresh air to wear a kid out!
  • Work their BRAINS and their BODIES in the mornings. If they've spent the majority of the morning vegging in front of the TV they aren't going to be ready for a good rest in the afternoon. Esp on rainy days, be sure to work in some puzzle time and/or game time with your kids! Sleepy brains rest better.
  • Give your child lots of "mommy time" in the mornings. You want their tanks filled up in this area so they won't be clingy/needy when it's time to go rest. If you've spent good quality time with your kids in the morning you'll feel more confident to tuck them in for their alone time in the afternoon.
  • Provide a healthy lunch with some good protein! Filling your kids up with only sugar and caffeine for lunch will hit hard against you come rest time. :) Half an apple, some carrot sticks and a PB sandwich and/or yogurt will fill up those tummies and will hold them over.
  • Don't use "rest time" as a PUNISHMENT!!! It should be a NATURAL part of the day!, just like meal time, play time and potty time! I cringe when I hear moms threaten their tired/fussy kids ... "if you don't stop your whining you'll have to GO TO BED". HELLO?!!!! ... your precious kiddo NEEDS rest! It shouldn't be a punishment. :)
  • Expect your child to stay in their bed QUIETLY (or whatever location you have set up) until rest time is over. During years of tiny apartment living with 3 littles we had to get creative on location, but we always made it work. It was a key to our family thriving.
NEWSFLASH!: Your kids might not be super excited about "rest time". It's OK! You only need to require them to do it with a good attitude. Having something to look forward to AFTER "rest time" is a great way to set up their day as well. Often my girls will ask me ... "Mommy, can we do that after nap time?". They've just grown accustom to knowing that nap time is GONNA happen and when they get up we're all about having a GREAT TIME again together until bed time!

It's very normal for a child to begin not sleeping every day between 12 months and 3 years old. Four out of five of our kids have done this. They might go a whole WEEK or so without "sleeping". This is often when parents think they have "outgrown" naps. STICK WITH IT. Change your language from "nap time" to "rest time" if you need to for older kids. Guess what? Parents that have done this, almost ALWAYS the kids start sleeping again! At least several times out of the week. It's a fact. :)

Even most Kindergarten classes and children's camps have times of REST! They are smart! They know that kids NEED down time.

So other than the fact that REST is SO important for young kids, there is more! Moms, this is the key to having more peace in your home! Having an hour or more break each afternoon helps YOU in more ways than you can imagine. Knowing there is that block of time where there won't be a thousand questions asked of you also gives YOUR mind, heart and soul time to REST. This is NOT selfish mommas!!! It is NEEDED and GOOD for you! It is ALSO good for Daddy!! Daddy deserves to come home to a place that is not complete chaos filled with whining children and a basket-case momma! :) Evenings can become some of the BEST of family times when the children are rested and happy until bed time. Blessed is the man of a woman who has had a little bit of rest mid-day, let me tell ya! :)

1 comment:

  1. Shelly - great post! I love it when my children all take naps at the sometime, though it is few and far between lately. I am going to try to implement some of your tips and see if that will help. Thanks for the fan page "like".