What’s A Mama To Do Without Nap Time?

Note: This column was printed in the Barrow Journal April 11, 2012.  For more information about how I’m dealing with the loss of nap time in our homeschooling routine, scroll to the bottom of this post.

For most mothers, nap time is our saving grace.  For those mothers with babies who don’t nap, I don’t know how they do it.  My five-year-old was a wonderful sleeper as a baby and toddler.  He gave me about 10 hours at night and a 2-3 hour nap time every afternoon. I’m sure I didn’t know how luxurious that was.

When my five-year-old was three, he began to resist nap time.  It became clear that he was transitioning out of them.  I still needed my nap, however, so I took my mother’s advice and created “quiet time.”  I told my son he would need to play quietly upstairs for a while by himself.

This worked well, and I think it helped him learn how to entertain himself.  Sometimes I would find him upstairs asleep on the floor beside his toys, but at least I didn’t have to fight him to go to sleep.  Other days he didn’t need a nap, so he played for an hour and then came downstairs.

I was preparing myself to have an opposite experience with my second child, but I was blessed with another good sleeper.  (Thank you!)  The only difference is that his naps have been shorter, and he’s transitioned out of them much earlier than his brother.

I knew a few months ago that he probably didn’t need his naps because he would lay awake in his crib until late in the night “singing.”  Sometimes he’d call us in there a few times too.  I resisted not giving him a nap though.  Not only did I use that time to do one-on-one work with my five-year-old, I also used part of it as break time for myself.

As other mothers have also told me, it’s kind of a frightful moment to realize that daily nap times are almost over.  We wonder how will we ever live without it?

Even as I dreaded losing nap time, I knew that it was a silly thing to worry about.  Look at all the mothers with older children who don’t nap anymore…they have survived!

As it turned out, transitioning out of nap time was much harder for me than it was for my two-year-old.  Unlike his older brother, he never resisted going down for a nap, but once I let him not nap, he won’t go back.  We had a few days when he got pretty cranky in the afternoon without his nap, but sometimes he was like that anyway, so who knows?

So no more naps, and no more singing at night… He’s out like a light!  But how is mama holding up?  Actually, not bad.  It’s been very freeing to give up nap time.  Suddenly I have a huge space in the day when I can take the boys to the store or do an extra project with them.  There’s no rushing home for nap time or worrying how to get something done around it.

As far as my one-on-one time with my five-year-old, that has changed a bit. (See below for more information about that.) For now we’re sticking to things that his younger brother can join in too, but over the next few months I hope to figure out a new homeschool schedule.

Sometimes the five-year-old will grumble about his little brother interrupting his projects, but for the most part, we’ve been able to let him work alongside us.  When my son wants to make something with paper and scissors, the two-year-old gets busy cutting up bits of paper too.  (Can bits of paper scattered on the floor be considered a new fashion décor?)

Sometimes I’m the one who’s too hesitant to try something new with the two-year-old.  The other day my eldest son insisted that we try dissecting his human body model with his brother – something we always did while he was napping because I was afraid body parts would be flying all over the room.

To my surprise, the two-year-old was very careful with the pieces and curious about the whole process.  Only once I had to threaten a time out when he refused to give back the liver and stomach.  If you think about it, losing nap time isn’t half as bad as the day they’re gonna tell me they want to dissect a real frog or something like that!

Note: That was my column.  Below is some more information about how I’m dealing with the loss of nap time in our homeschooling routine.

Here’s a debrief of my thoughts about losing nap time:

  • Whaa!!
  • Okay, it’s nothing to cry about.  It actually gives us more freedom because I don’t have to work around the two-year-old’s naps.
  • At first, I didn’t worry about doing any formal lessons with my five-year-old.  I was already pretty laid back about this, and I wrote about how I conducted our homeschool in this post.
  • It’s springtime, and I feel pretty certain that every year during spring, we’re going to change our routine. It’s a priority of mine to let my boys spend a lot of time outside.  We still have book time, we create, we tell stories, and they play, play, play.  That’s all we need to do right now.
  • But recently I have been considering how to work in a small amount of time dedicated to the basics: reading and math.  Then I noticed that my two-year-old liked to sit quietly and watch his older brother play on the computer.  So I signed up for the paid portion of Starfall.com.  This is a wonderful site, and we’ve used it a lot in the past.  (There’s a lot on there that’s free, but they’ve added much more, including math, and they are only charging $35 a year for access to it.  Not a bad deal, if your child likes it.)  Twice I’ve sat down with my five-year-old, and we’ve read through two or three, short Starfall “books.”  My two-year-old has been in the room with us, and he likes to watch while at the same time playing with puzzles or other things in our activity room.  Don’t get me wrong – he is distracting.  But my five-year-old gets distracted no matter what when he has to sound out a word he doesn’t know.  This is why I don’t push more than two or three books at a time.
  • The site also has a lot of entertaining but educational math songs, nursery rhymes, etc.  So my thought is that we’ll spend a little time at the computer when we can, and I’ll make sure the five-year-old gets some practice reading.  Then we’ll have fun exploring the site.  It will be “school” for both of them.
  • My plan is to work this into our morning schedule between book time and our puppet shows.
  • Of course, this is all a work in progress.  I’ve just started doing this, and I don’t know what it will look like next month or next year.  I’ll be sure to keep you posted.
But Wait!?  You might be wondering: what about Mama’s Nap Time?  What about her Free time?  This is a subject for an upcoming blog post, but the short answer is that I let my boys watch T.V. in the afternoons (and evenings).  I hope you’ll stick with me because I’ll confess it all and explain why I don’t think T.V. hurts them…

How have you changed your routine as your children transition out of nap time?

8 thoughts on “What’s A Mama To Do Without Nap Time?

  1. Great post! My 4 year old recently gave up her nap (although I still find her asleep on the livingroom floor now and then) and I had the same experience of dreading it, but then realizing I had much more time to do activities with her, so it was not so bad. Now I just have to get my 4 month old to nap more than 45 minutes at a time…
    And I’m looking forward to your blog post about TV. My 4 year old watches TV in the evenings too and I don’t know how I would deal without it. I don’t think it’s all bad as long as it’s quality programming and hate that I feel I have to justify it to others.


    1. Hi Peggy! Thank you for the comment. I think that when my eldest was a baby, he napped off and on throughout the day wherever he happened to be…usually a little chair I sat him in. I think he became a very hard sleeper this way because we did our daily living around him! After a while, it morphed into one afternoon nap, and then I could easily do nap time in his crib. I don’t really remember how my second son started napping. Similar, I think, but he also napped much shorter. As he got bigger and more active, he started sleeping around 2 hours in the afternoon though, sometimes longer. Every child is different, so I wish you luck with that! I agree with you about the TV issue, and as I said, I’ll be writing about it when I find the time!


  2. Interesting to hear your thoughts about starfall, the ‘extended’ version. We have used the free parts of that website, and I have considered signing up for more, because Georgia has breezed through the free stories and she really enjoys learning this way. Glad to hear you are liking it. Also looking forward to your next post and thoughts on TV! My kids also have a time to watch cartoons each day, b/c my two oldest don’t nap either and I just have to get some things done, and while they will sometimes sit at some creative play like play dough or art, most of the time they will just be whining that there is nothing to do or they can’t think of anything to do! I’ll confess I often feel guilty about the tv though (which for us, is cartoons from netflix, we don’t actually have a tv) so I’m hoping your post might give me a reason I can use not to feel guitly! Haha.


    1. Carrie, I’ll let you know about Starfall as we continue it. I’ve only just signed up for the paid portion, so I can’t give a complete review yet. We’ve enjoyed it so far though, and I think the price is very reasonable. We use Netflix too! I’ll try to pull my TV posts together soon since it seems like it will be a hot topic! lol


  3. oh i am dreading the days of no naps. although they are starting to happen, i am holding on with all i can! i am so glad you say you use tv. i have always used it when i need a break or they need some down time. i have recently started limited the amount of tv they get and using audio stories or music in its place. it is going over well and they really enjoy when they do get to watch tv a lot more.

    we love Starfall too, i haven’t paid for the additional part but i am looking forward to see what your thoughts are on it. i just signed up for a year of Reading Eggs, my oldest seems to really like that one too!


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