I Love Summer For The Naps
Tips to induce the nap that every stay-at-home parent can’t live without.
The most dreaded event in a parent of a toddler’s life is the loss of nap time. Remember that time when you literally high-fived yourself as your toddler drifted off to sleep? Remember that time when you ticked off items on your to-do list without your toddler screaming at your feet for 2 solid hours? Remember that time when you could hear your own thoughts in utter silence? Well, if you have a toddler that suddenly decided to stop napping, then it’s almost traumatic to have these hours of “saving grace” suddenly taken away from you.
I never thought I’d be that parent whose son stopped napping suddenly.
My son’s super active. I mean he’s hyper-ACTIVE. How can my marathon athlete toddler stop napping after that intense play session in the morning? Well, it happened. This past winter was no joke. I shuttled my son to playrooms after playrooms in hopes of a nap.
When summer came, I rejoiced!
The possibility of a nap in the summer is once again here with “swimming” and plenty of time running around in splash pads.
I was right. Wow. The return of nap time is just glorious.
For those of you who followed me from the beginning, you know that I get up in the early morning (3 am) to write every day. By the time noon comes around, even with coffee, I’m ready for a nap. You will find me flatten the driver’s seat of my car so that I can catch a snooze with my son during his car- induced nap every day.
That 30 minutes to an hour of bliss is worth 10 Starbucks coffees.
I’m such a “zen” mom in the afternoons now, my toddler can throw fits all he wants to and I’m still on cloud nine cleaning up puke. Okay fine, maybe not cleaning up puke. But, you know what I mean.
Being a stay at home parent is hard.
It’s hard even if you have one child. Every day, I have one goal in mind when we embark on our morning activities: a solid one to two hours of nap.
By far, beyond physical activities, the one thing that saps a toddler’s energy the most is “social activities”. I don’t mean the “safe” social activities such as talking gibberish with you and stacking blocks with you. I mean the “unpredictable” social activities such as bumping into another toddler on the slide, chasing another toddler on the playground, fighting with another toddler for toys, or playing in the sandbox with another toddler. These social interactions are “unpredictable”. They take a lot of social, cognitive, and physical energy from your toddler.
So, pick up the phone and arrange that playdate.
Physical activities that push the toddler’s boundaries are the ones that will induce that nap in your toddler. Learning a new physical activity takes both cognitive skills and physical skills. It requires a lot of concentration to not “fall”. When my son was younger, I bought these stepping buckets to help him have a longer nap. I loved those stepping buckets as much as he did. Now that he’s older, “swimming” is the new activity that tires him out.
Crafts and Drawing
This one really depends on your child. On a rainy day, we usually have to get messy while painting with fingers or with paintbrushes in order for him to receive enough cognitive stimulation from activities. But, you might have a child who can concentrate on coloring, or drawing different shapes for more than 10 minutes. If you do, you’ve lucked out. Draw with your toddler. Talk to your toddler about different shapes. Talk to your toddler about how to put together those shapes in a complete picture. Then, let your toddler play with gluing items together.
Sensory Activities Outdoors
Nature is the best place to receive sensory stimulation for a child. For my son, nature is very soothing. The trick to exploring nature is that it has to be child-led. I often find that just having a picnic outdoors is not enough to stimulate a child. However, if we walk around and let my son explore the hiking path, then the engagement with nature tires him out. Although exploring the backyard is nice, but toddlers love new places and new information. Taking a walk in a new park while letting your toddler explore the surroundings is the perfect adventure to set up for a good nap.
Sprinklers, Splashpads, and Backyard Kiddie Pools
The trick to water-play for your toddler is a good “chase”. Make sure your toddler runs well before you initiate a game of “mommy shark”. You want to buy nonslip shoes for your toddler. If you are lucky and there are plenty of kids playing with your toddler, you can just watch the action. A good chasing game develops the toddler’s coordination. It also helps the toddler’s social awareness. This activity is similar to “swimming”, it practically guarantees that your toddler will nap afterward.
Tricycle, Scooter, and Cars
For an older toddler who is well-coordinated, learning to ride a tricycle is the perfect activity on a cool day. The skills required for the toddler to operate a tricycle will keep your toddler engaged. It also forces your toddler to concentrate on learning a new skill. If your toddler has mastered the tricycle, a scooter can help your toddler develop more “riding” skills. For younger toddlers, simply riding in a remote-controlled car will stimulate the toddler to want to “drive”.
This one is the go-to for many parents whose toddlers do not love physical activities. Reading books often with your toddler who likes quiet activities will engage your toddler. Engagement is the key for that long nap. Read a variety of books that your toddler might enjoy. Even if your child insists on reading one book over and over again, stagger reading times all throughout the day.
Play e-books instead of music in your daily routine. For a while, we had a pile of books in the car. Each day, when we finished our physical activities on the playground, I read a book to my son in the car to get him to settle down in his car seat. He’s usually quite content looking at the book while I drove us home. Eventually, he drops the book and drifts off to a nice long nap.
Don’t stay at home. Go outdoors. Take advantage of the nice long naps that come with a summer spent outdoors. Before you know it, your child will have grown. The nap door closes quickly if you let it.
About the Author
Jun Wu is a Content Writer for Technology, AI, Data Science, Psychology, and Parenting. She has a background in programming and statistics. On her spare time, she writes poetry and blogs on her website.