Rest time is one of the most beautiful times in our house. I thought nothing could compare to naptime, but rest time comes in at least a close second. Some days it even beats naptime. It’s no secret that I am a big fan of the Babywise books and -wise series. It has brought so much order and structure and extra sleep to our house from a very early age. The best part is I am seeing some of the biggest blessings at age 3 and 5. Yes, the day I wrote this most “My Baby” turned 5! I’ll let you in on a little secret…he even still naps some days.
I have friends that often drop “the nap” around age two. I am tickled that my 5 year old still needs a nap…not in a bragging or boasting way at all. Just that I am such a huge proponent of as much sleep as possible and he is the best sleeper in the house. No idea what happened with my 3 year old LOL except that she is too much like both of her parents.
So back to rest time. What is it? How is it different than a nap? And HOW do you know when to do it? Rest time is what we transitioned to from one nap a day. It is different than independent play time or room time. The rule in our house is that you have to stay on the bed and lay quietly. Some moms are okay with getting off the bed to play if done quietly but we decided that rest time worked better for us and our oldest if the expectation was to stay in bed. Getting off bed is actually considered disobedience and treated as such. Sitting up to play or read is okay…as long as there is no bouncing/jumping around and done quietly. Yes, I did say play. This is one of the reasons I like rest time so much! On really, really hard days or disobedient days, there are no toys, no books, nothing but rest. On days that have gone super well, often there are toys and/or books given. It is a huge opportunity to practice and reward FTO…without the expectation that he always gets a toy for nap or a prize for being good. Nap is not seen as a consequence either. On occasion, he asks for a specific toy or book but most days he knows that we pick the toy or book. He is quite content to flip through books or day dream for 1.5-2 hours.
I do think some of our success is his personality, but we have also been extremely consistent with setting the expectation that rest starts and stops at very pre-defined times. No budging, no negotiating, no skipping. Now, as he gets older, we have been more lenient and flexible and even let him skip resting…but 6/7 days or more he is in his bed during that time. We also started calling it “rest time” before he officially stopped napping more days than not. I believe that helped set the stage for fighting over taking a nap. We simply told him to lay and rest. Most days he still fell asleep. We knew when it was time to officially transition to a rest time without a real expectation for him to sleep when he was skipping more naps than not without a change in behavior. What I mean is that he would lay there awake the whole time and still have an appropriate level of first-time obedience at the end of the day. The best part and another reason that I have fallen in love with rest time is that he falls asleep almost as soon as his head hits the pillow at night. He used to take up to 60 minutes on average to winddown at night. He really needed that time to relax and think. Now he uses rest time for that and has virtually zero problems falling asleep at bedtime.
During times of illness or poor behavior, we instruct him to close his eyes and try his best to fall asleep. He seems very in tune with his body and knows when he needs to catch up on sleep. His transition from napping more to napping less to almost none has been quite smooth. Part of our success, I believe, has been calling it rest time early on, expecting him to stay in bed just like nap time, and giving him appropriate freedoms during that time. There are still many afternoons he catches a 10-15 minute snooze with his blinds open wide and the sunlight streaming in. He amazes me and I only hope it goes as smoothly with my toddler. I have learned to embrace this rest time, and there is nothing better than snuggling with an overgrown 5-year old buried under his train blanket after being so determined to read through his Animal Planet books all the way through