Naps and Rest Time

moms of many manageNaps and rest time are a big issue for parents, especially parents with small children. How do you get your children to calm down and rest? How much sleep does your baby need? How do I ensure that all my kids sleep at the same time so that I get the quiet time in the afternoon that I deserve? (Well no one really asks that, but we’ve all thought it, right?)

This week  the 4 Moms of  35 Kids (unless one of us is secretly expecting, which is completely possible seeing our babies are all nearing or just passing their first birthday) are talking about naps and rest time.

One of the hallmarks of parenting is lack of sleep and there have been more mornings than I can count when all I can think about is making it through until nap time. Nap/rest/quiet time has changed over the years in our home, but it’s still an important, although less regular part of our day.

Here are some tips for nap time:

Keep it regular.

Our bodies function best when there is a regular rhythm. If we rest at the same time each afternoon our body anticipates that rest period and slows down making it easier to sleep. Our whole house quiets down and rests around 2 o’clock each day.

Having a regular bedtime and regular wake times also help promote regular nap times. There are some children who sleep LESS when they are overly tired.

Separate children if possible.

Each child needs a different amount of sleep and we’ve found that even though our children have always shared bedrooms, everyone is happier if we separate them for nap time, this allows those who need more sleep to get more sleep rather than being woken by their less-sleep-needed sibling.

Hold nap time loosely.

There were many times when our children were all young and I was in desperate need of some quiet or some extra sleep that events would conspire to prevent that from happening. Someone would fall asleep early and wake just as the others were going down. The phone would ring or someone would drop by. If you have children you probably know what I’m talking about.

Lorelei, Bella's 'twin' cousin (they were born two days apart)

I think giving up my plans for nap time was an important part of me learning to be a little less selfish. So let go. Realize that you don’t deserve a break from the children, a little extra sleep or an hour of peace and quiet, that’s just a bonus if everything goes as planned.

Don’t give up nap time too early.

All children are different, but simply because a child turns 5 doesn’t mean he/she no longer needs a nap. When our children seem to be ready to give up that nap, I put them down as usual and set the timer for a half hour. They are required to be still and quiet for 30 minutes and if at the end of that time they are still awake, they read books quietly in bed until rest time is over.

Most of our children have stopped sleeping during the day sometime between their 6th and 7th birthday, but a couple have given it up much sooner and some have given it up later.

Give them time to wake up.

We’ve found that some children greatly benefit from some quiet time  after they wake up from a nap. When our little ones wake I give them a hug,  a drink of water (they love having a sippy cup in bed with them) and a small stack of books and they sit in their bed looking at books quietly until they are ready to face the world again, usually 5-20 minutes.

Keep quiet time.

Even when our children stop sleeping during nap time, they still have an hour of quiet reading each afternoon. This keeps things semi-quiet for those who are sleeping and gives the older ones (and their mommy) a chance for some rest.

Have a nap time routine.

In our home the children spend an hour playing outside before nap time.  So when they come in we have a routine to get them in the mood for sleep. Of course that routine includes snuggling with mom and reading books and praying. It’s one of my favorite parts of the day.

Now it’s your turn. Post about your favorite nap time (or bedtime) book(s) and link up here. When you link up on one of the 4 Moms sites, you will be featured on all 4 of them.

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You may read what the other moms of many have to say about quiet time.

KimC at Life in a Shoe
Connie at Smockity Frocks
Headmistress at The Common Room

I know I just scratched the surface on this post, do you have more questions about nap/rest time?

For more Moms of Many posts visit the 4 Moms page.

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21 Responses to Naps and Rest Time
  1. Christi
    June 9, 2011 | 8:51 am

    Thanks for the tips. I’ve definitely found nap time challenging as I have a mix of both older and younger children in the house at all times. Will you share your before nap time routine? I’d love some new ideas in this area. Thanks.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Our before nap routine is very simple, so you probably won’t get any great ideas, but I’m happy to share it.

    Our boys come in from playing outside and head to the bathroom to go potty and get wiped up (hands, feet, face, etc.). As I’m cleaning them up for nap they enjoy chatter about their outdoor adventures. Then we snuggle up in their bed with their blankets and read a book or two and we pray together right before they go to sleep.

    Simple, but it works for us.

    [Reply]

  2. Heidi C.
    June 9, 2011 | 8:56 am

    All of our kids have been great nappers so far, but they seem to go through a phase around 3 years old (linked above #4). The older two stopped sleeping after that because they couldn’t sleep at night if they slept during the day. I should be more regular about a quiet time, but we tend to get more school done while the younger two are sleeping. Although, if I’m quietly reading to the kids around 2 or 3, you can bet I’ll be falling asleep as I read!!

    [Reply]

    Heidi Reply:

    Oops, I meant to say “linked above #3″.

    [Reply]

  3. Nicole
    June 9, 2011 | 8:57 am

    We also have a ‘quiet/nap’ time after lunch. I usually have some extra kids here, some require naps, some don’t. I separate the ones that need naps and the others quietly watch a video. It seems to work out pretty well.

    [Reply]

  4. Katie
    June 9, 2011 | 9:41 am

    Thanks for the “setting the timer for 30 minutes” idea. I have a 4 yr old that is transitioning out of naps and I was having a hard time knowing which days she should nap and which ones she could rest. The buzzer idea should work well.

    [Reply]

  5. abba12
    June 9, 2011 | 10:19 am

    Random mention of expecting is random :) Or perhaps not so much

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Random mention of expecting is random, unless it’s a hint wistful. ;)

    [Reply]

  6. Nebby
    June 9, 2011 | 12:31 pm

    I left my link to some of our favorite picture books. Naptime for us has become rest time. We do separate the children for it (easier with only 4). They can read, listen to CD, draw, etc. Even play with quiet toys. Mostly I think we all need a little space from each other once a day.

    [Reply]

  7. Jamie Z
    June 9, 2011 | 3:51 pm

    When the kids have to rest for 30 minutes, how do they know that the 30 minutes is up (and then the full hour)? I’m afraid that if I set a timer, and they actually doze off, the buzzer would wake them up too early.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Great question, sorry I wasn’t clear.

    I set a timer for ME. :) When 30 minutes is up I go check on them, if they are still awake I let them know that they can read quietly. I go back in when the full hour is up.

    [Reply]

  8. Gwen
    June 9, 2011 | 4:03 pm

    Naptimes are a set way of life at our house – if the little ones are down for regular naps, happy and well-rested, everyone benefits! It’s not just for my sake (although I reap the benefits too :)

    Ever since our kids were newborns we’ve been in the habit of this – when mom puts baby down for a nap, the baby learns he may as well go to sleep, because mom doesn’t come back until the nap is done! When this is started at the earliest age, there’s never a battle – they don’t realize there are any options. Obviously we have a routine with reading, snuggling, rocking first which helps the relaxation process.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Hi Gwen,

    Melissa asks you this question

    At what age (specifically) do you start the naptime routine where you don’t come back until it’s over? I have a 2 month old and he sleeps pretty well in general but that seems a little young for any cry it out methods…just wondering what you did.

    If you hit the reply directly under her question below, she will get an email with your response.

    Thanks!

    [Reply]

  9. Jamie Z
    June 10, 2011 | 1:24 am

    Thanks!

    [Reply]

  10. melissa
    June 10, 2011 | 3:28 pm

    At what age (specifically) do you start the naptime routine where you don’t come back until it’s over? I have a 2 month old and he sleeps pretty well in general but that seems a little young for any cry it out methods…just wondering what you did.
    Melissa

    [Reply]

  11. Suzanne
    June 10, 2011 | 10:21 pm

    For our naptime, we have big sister 10yo, read one of her level books to the 2 & 5 year old (possibly boring to them; reading audience for her). The 2 year old always falls asleep and the 5 year old gets to get up once sister is tired of reading (an hour). 5yo does fall asleep once in a blue moon.

    My kids seem to need a nap well past 5 years old, but that does not always work out with our school schedule. It is SO much easier to teach reading/phonics when babies are in bed, but some of the people who need a nap at this time are the ones who need phonics lessons, also.

    I do get a nap some days if I put the 2yo or 2 & 5 year olds both down instead of big sister reading to them. During this time the big kids have “quiet seat-work time” where they must do their school work, not come upstairs where we are sleeping unless it’s an actual emergency, and not answer the door or phone unless it’s Daddy. This took some training and my 5yo still doesn’t get what a proper emergency is, but we discipline for breaking this rule, and I’m sure she’ll get it soon. : )

    [Reply]

  12. Trisha
    June 11, 2011 | 4:23 pm

    I am a big family rookie. Our kids are 6, 5 and 2 with twins due in July. I allowed my kids to stop napping when it started to interfere with bedtime. Now that the babies are on the way, I so wish I had instituted a quiet time. I attempted it last week, and DS1 was devastated when I told him about it. I explained that he didn’t need to sleep but just needed to spend an hour in his room doing something quiet. Problem is, since cutting out naps, whenever the kids were cranky/having a hard time with their behavior I would send them up for a nap/quiet time. Not as much for a punishment but because I recognized they needed more sleep that day. He just can’t get past the idea that nap/quiet time equals punishment. Any suggestions on putting a positive spin on quiet time?

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Hi Trisha,

    I would try starting small (short periods of time), let him do something quiet that he enjoys (story on CD, books, etc) then gradually lengthen the time. If you are consistent quiet time will eventually become part of their regular day.

    Hope you figure out what will work best for you and your family.

    [Reply]

  13. Carolyn
    June 20, 2011 | 1:56 pm

    How do you get your toddler to nap in their bed? We just transitioned to a toddler bed at 2.5 years because she was climbing out. I had to move her 1.5 sister back into the pack and play in a different room because she was getting woken up by her older sister. We just had baby #3 six weeks ago so I need the 2.5 to go back to napping. She will have quiet time with me on the couch watching a movie. Yesterday she fell asleep during it but then rolled off the couch. I know she still needs nap time but she will not lay in her bed during the day. Suggestions?

    Your blog is very encouraging and inspiring to this mom of 3 under 3 and hopefully more in the future :)

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Hi Carolyn,

    No real suggestions because we haven’t had much of an issue. Our little ones begin sleeping in a bed around their first birthday. We teach them that when they are finished napping they call mommy to come get them up rather than just getting out of bed on their own. We’ve occasionally had to remind them to stay in their bed, but have not had any major issues about it.

    I think that it’s easier to train kids when they’re younger because they tend to be more compliant and a lot less sneaky. :) I know easy for me to say and not very helpful for you.

    I think that if you’re consistent in what you expect and patient in continuing to expect it day after day, things will fall into a good pattern for you.

    [Reply]

  14. Ashley
    November 1, 2013 | 8:51 pm

    At my house nap follows lunch every day… I don’t actually care where they sleep or rest as long as the house is quiet. So I usually have a 3 year old asleep on the living room floor where she has a view of the kitchen while I clean up lunch, a 3 year old who sleeps on the couch in the playroom, a 4.5 year old who “hides” with books under her bed or under a blanket tent, and a 5 year old who climbs into bed and goes right to sleep. On no school days I have 2 school agers who find quiet reading corners and are frequently the last to reappear well after the little ones are up and playing again. For us it takes about 45minutes for the house to actually settle completely down and then they are all getting up about 90 minutes later.
    (Half of these kids are my nieces/nephews but we live in the same house and all have their own beds they could sleep in)
    Honestly though as long as they rest and don’t cry all afternoon I don’t really care how it happens… (except maybe sometimes I wish the littlest one wouldn’t sleep in my kitchen doorway where she’s in the way… but then I smile and remember when my oldest one used to do the same thing and how much I missed it when she started sleeping in her bed…)

    [Reply]

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