It’s summertime! Many families take the summer to travel near and far, explore parks and pools, and send the little ones to stay with family for some R&R. Whatever may be happening for you this summer, you’re most likely deviating from the regular schedule you had at the beginning of the year. This means that you’re also changing up your toddler’s schedule too! New experiences, time with family, and extra outside time in the summer is AWESOME! However, a lot of times with extra excitement and changes in locations, naptime gets tossed out the window.
I want to share some naptime tips with you to keep your little one on schedule. While they may nap a bit earlier or later different days, a nap is essential for their growing minds and bodies! Especially in this summer heat. (P.S. drink lots of water!).
1. Prep your toddler. Let them know prior to nap time where and when they will be sleeping. Give them some prompts. After we come in from the pool we are going to have a bath and lay down for nap. If you’re at a hotel, a relative’s house, or anywhere unfamiliar, this will be essential! Remind them where they are, that they are safe, and that this is a great place to take a nap. “Aunt Rachel always has the coziest bed to sleep in. I love taking naps here”.
2. Dim the lighting. Sometimes controlling the lighting isn’t as simple as turning the lights off. Especially with the bright summer sun shining all over us. Get creative. Hang up a sheet or towel to cover natural light leaking in. Use construction paper over small windows. Bring a few tacks and a dark sheet with you in case this situation arises. A well-napped toddler can make for the best vacation ever.
3. Mood music. Whether on your phone, a CD player, or iPod type device; play classical music, nature sounds, or white noise. In our classroom we play classical music and a white noise machine to quiet the room. Playing the same sound machine, CD, or song consistently can help your toddler to feel at ease wherever they are.
4. Offer support. Your toddler may be able to walk into their room independently at home and lay themselves down for a nap (Go you!), but don’t be surprised if their independence doesn’t carry over to a trip to Paris or Grandma’s house. They are in a different place and they need you to help them know they’re safe more than ever. While they are laying down, sit next to them and offer them a hand on their back, pet their hair, or use whatever soothing tactic you know works best for your little one. You may feel that you’re back-tracking on your road to fostering independence, but making sure their health is tip-top trumps everything! Before going home, remind them of all the things they can do by themselves in their own environment.
5. Don’t be hard on yourself. Sometimes a nap just doesn’t happen. Sometimes there’s just nothing you can do. Instead of throwing in the towel, insist on some quiet rest time. Maybe you just read books and snuggle together. Or you lay down together, but talk or sing quietly together. Having downtime can be just as helpful and may even ensure an earlier bedtime.
Enjoy your summer! Enjoy your naps! May everyone play hard and rest hard!