I know the thought of losing your 2-hour nap time break during the day makes you want to go into panic mode but I’m here to assure you that this new chapter of your baby getting older is actually awesome! I have had a love/hate relationship with nap time over the years and to be totally honest I let out a BIG sigh of relief when my youngest grew out of her nap. I rejoiced in my forgotten freedom y’all!
Because my oldest is 9 and my youngest is 3 the big age gap means that they are in two completely different stages of childhood. And your household is as old as your oldest child! I’m going to repeat that, your household is as old as your oldest child.
Once Logan (my oldest) started elementary school long gone were the days where we could go about making our own schedule. We had to follow the new school schedule which was Monday through Friday 7:55 AM drop off and pick up at 3 PM. That big change affected everyone’s schedule and we as a family had to adjust to our new way of life.
I had to change my younger two’s schedule to accommodate Logan’s new school schedule and then her extracurricular activities. As a result, naps started to become an inconvenience but they were still very necessary. So when my younger two started showing signs that they were growing out of naps I happily embraced this new chapter!
Signs Your Kiddo is Growing Out of a Nap
Before I go any further I want to make sure that I acknowledge that every child is different and every parent has different circumstances that affect nap time.
Based off of my experience as a stay at home mom for 9 years raising 3 children with 3 different personalities I think the biggest sign that your child doesn’t need a nap is when they can stay awake all day without a meltdown. For my kids, this was around age 3 to 4. My kids weren’t great nappers once they hit toddlerhood so if you have a 3-year-old who still naps like a champ that is wonderful!
I think the other sign that your kiddo is growing out of their nap is when they stop sleeping during nap time. I know how frustrating this is for us as mommies especially moms who work from home and absolutely NEED that time to work. My best friend was one of those moms! This is when I would suggest transitioning from nap time to rest time.
Transitioning Out of Naps to Rest Time
I firmly believe that it’s not smart to just stop naps cold turkey because a 3 and/or 4-year-old is still little and they still need quite a bit of sleep. Having a transition period from nap time to rest time before completely cutting out nap time altogether is, in my opinion, the best way to go about moving into this new chapter.
When my kids finally stopped napping I implemented “rest time”. I did this because they still needed that quiet time even though they weren’t sleeping. I treated rest time just as I did nap time except the expectation for them to sleep was no longer there.
I explained to my kids what our new expectation during rest time was and why. I always follow up a rule with a why. Our new expectation (rule) was this: “if you don’t sleep you can play quietly in your room but you are not to come out of your room for at least an hour.” I then followed up with our why, which was that rest is a vital component to the overall health and wellness of their growing bodies. If they wanted to grow big and strong they needed to rest! Sam responded very well to this concept. 🙂
Now, I know you’re probably thinking how the heck do they know when it’s been an hour?! And how did I land on an hour? Why not an hour and a half or 2 hours or 45 mins?! I’ll tell you!
My saving grace was the OK to Wake Clock. I could not have transitioned from nap time to rest time without that clock, I’m serious. Before I started using the OK to Wake system my kids were coming out of their rooms every 3 minutes and/or sneaking into each other’s rooms to play which defeated the purpose of rest time. It was driving me crazy!
Basically, the way the clock works is that when the light turns green that means it’s OK to Wake or okay for the child to come out of their rooms! I know some parents also use the OK to Wake Clock for mornings if they have a kiddo that wakes up at the crack of dawn. There are a lot of different ways you can use the clock. It took a few days for my kids to understand and adjust to our new rest time routine but I stayed consistent and ultimately we were successful!
Honestly, I landed on an hour through trial and error. I tested out different lengths of time for my kiddos and found that an hour worked best for our family. Any longer than that and rest time turned into a shit show. They were like caged animals and I just didn’t think it was necessary to put that stress on me and on them.
That being said, I want to circle back around to that fact that every child is different and every parent has different circumstances that affect the need for a nap or rest.
Your New Normal Without Nap/Rest Time!
We have fully cut out a nap and rest time now and I’m loving being in this new chapter! We have a new found freedom that we haven’t had in years and it’s so much fun. We can go out and explore the world around us without interruption. It’s also really awesome for traveling! I am very much looking forward to our summer vacation now that the kids can keep up with us!
As much I as love babies and that stage of life this new chapter is just so incredible. If you are in the baby stage up to your neck in diapers and bottles and breastfeeding and napping and not sleeping, girl I want you to know that it gets better. It does get easier and don’t be fearful of the next stage or next chapter in your journey as a mom. Take it from someone who has made it on the other side, you’re going to love it!