Currently we're at the point where she really still needs the nap in the afternoon because by about 4:30pm, she is overtired and things start to go sharply downhill around here, BUT if she does take a nap, she is less fragile in the evenings but won't go to sleep until after 9pm, sometimes closer to 10. So it's like trying to pick between two not-good options - cranky, tired, and tantrums in the afternoon but a non-contested 7pm bedtime OR an easier afternoon but a day with a 4 year old that lasts from 7am - 10pm and being called back upstairs to her room multiple times after lights out.
After a week or so of non-nap days that were 7am - 7pm with absolutely no break from her, I was juuuust about at my breaking point and decided something had to give or one of us was not going to survive.
So I implemented a daily Quiet Time for her. My goal was for her to spend an hour playing independently. She is not and has never been great at independent play - and in her defense, this is not something I've ever tried to foster in her - so I knew we were going to need some help and incentive for this whole QT idea to work.
We started slowly, and I tried to have realistic expectations. I did not go into it thinking it would work perfectly the very first time we tried. But it is slowly working, and we are at the point now where we both get a little break from each other during the day.
Here are a few things I've done that have been successful in transitioning from afternoon nap to afternoon Quiet Time:
- I always fix her a drink and a snack to have during quiet time.
- We started very slowly. The first couple of days she did 15 minutes alone, then 45 minutes with me in the room but very little interaction (I read a book or rested in her bed). We upped her alone time in 5-10 minute increments every few days.
- She is free to play in her room or in the playroom or (for now) in Baby Sister's room.
- She obviously has free access to the bathroom.
- She can come to the top of the stairs and call for me if she needs me. I usually let her do this twice, then I start with gentle reminders about the purpose of QT.
- I created QT boxes for each weekday. In each box I tried to include the following
- A Disney Songs and Story CD
- A game and/or puzzle
- An art project
- A fine-motor skills activity
- A toy
- On the weekends during QT, she gets to watch shows or play games on her iPad.
I will probably always miss traditional nap time, but I also knew that she wouldn't be napping forever. However, she might be required to do a QT every day until she leaves for college!