Tiring Out Your Toddler Before He Exhausts You
There isn't a mom of toddlers who doesn't crave the afternoon nap. As the coveted napping hour nears, mom is thinking about having the time to read her favorite magazine, take a shower, or perhaps catch up with some friends without being constantly interrupted. Yes, naptime is not only an important part of your toddler's life – but it plays a critical role in your own sanity as well. In order to make nap time most effective (meaning long and uninterrupted), it is important to offer plenty of stimulating and tiring activities for your toddler so when sleep time comes, they want nothing more.
Child experts agree that a toddler will sleep better if they are sufficiently tired out at naptime. Since every child has a different level of energy, it is necessary to personalize your daily routine to ensure you are meeting your child's individual needs. The best way to tire out a toddler is to offer the perfect balance of physical exercise, sunlight, and mental stimulation – all of which cause them to feel sleepy. Other factors also include your schedule with other children in your home and just how much sleep they got the night before.
As you start your day – try to offer some brain stimulating activities during the early morning hours. This way, while they eat their cereal, they are also painting, creating, playing with Play-Doh, or coloring. Be sure to incorporate some learning into the mix with the realization that the morning may offer their brightest cognitive state. Working on one letter a week and finding activities to support this letter is a fun way to get things started and jump-start their educational career.
After breakfast, think about doing something physical. You are sure to find plenty of late morning playgroups, exercise classes, or activities specifically tailored to your non-school age toddler. Many bounce houses and skating rinks host free play times void of older children, which can be exhaustive and fun for your toddler. Additionally, giving them an opportunity to play with other children their age can turn every day into a new and exciting adventure. By embarking on this adventure early in the day, you enable your toddler to put their best foot forward and get the most from their social interactions.
As playtime comes to an end, your toddler will no doubt have an appetite for some lunch as well as some bonding time with you. Allowing them to come home and play with their own toys on the living room floor (or in their room) gives them an outlet without rules and guidelines. This will also help them learn to play on their own and provides ample room for their creativity, role-play, and ideas to run wild. You may find that your toddler takes an interest in dolls, blocks or cars and can spend hours building and creating their play space. Allow this time to be random, so they won't feel constantly controlled or pushed.
As the afternoon naptime approaches, it may be a good idea to take them outside. Strolling through the back yard, walking the neighborhood, playing on their playground for just 30 minutes can help them meet their sunlight intake needs, which is a crucial part of healthy sleep habits. You will notice that your toddler begins to get sleepy all on their own – and that putting them down for a nap will be hassle free if they are already tired. Once back inside, cleaning them up – snuggling together to read a book, have a snack and enjoying some down time together can be the perfect top to a day well spent.
Make sure that you are avoiding sugary treats or drinks during the daytime so they won't be artificially stimulated which can disrupt sleep habits. Additionally, be able to remain flexible in your scheduled activities so that you don't offer too many activities which can leave a child this age, frustrated. If you make it a routine to offer both engaging and physical outlets for your child, you may just have time to tackle that laundry or take a well-deserved bubble bath.