Sweet, sweet nap time — that very short moment of peace and quiet in your day. Nap mats are perfect for preschools (or a day at Grandma's!) to ensure your tot gets to recharge with some supercozy shut-eye. From fun patterns to personalized themes, these cushy mats are easy to wash, travel, and store. We've rounded up a few adorable favorites that will make your preschooler just as excited for nap time as her mama is!
Here's another post from our friends at Circle of Moms! Every week, we bring you the best parenting and motherhood stories from our partners at Circle of Moms, including this post from Kim Westerman about giving up your toddler's nap.
It's one o'clock in the afternoon — do you know where your toddler is? All his friends are fast asleep, napping soundly after lunch. But your little one is climbing the walls, wanting to play, asking for snacks, and begging to go to the park, perhaps all at once. Sound familiar? If so, what should you do? Should you force the issue, or give in? How long should you try for a good nap routine before you throw in the towel?
Jennifer raises this very question on one of Circle of Moms' toddler communities. Her three-year-old simply will not go down without a fight. My son, also three, is very much of the little-to-no napping camp. And what I realized one afternoon after I once again resorted to bribery — and, once again, failed! — is that it was a losing battle, that for the sake of everyone's sanity I should simply stop asking Olin to nap on my schedule.
You see, Olin has resisted sleep since the day he was born. Sure, every newborn sleeps in fits and starts, but my son has always fought sleep, even before he had ideas about what else he might be doing. And when he does finally succumb, you can trust it won't be for long. Even now, he goes to sleep in his own cozy bed, but he invariably wakes up at the crack of dawn, wanting company.
My epiphany that it was okay that he isn't a napper happened as follows. We were lying in his big futon on the floor one afternoon, and I was trying to think of a bribe that might work. Would he like to watch Caillou after his nap? Get pizza for dinner? Take his balance bike up to the enclosed area at the nearby schoolyard? But even though he loves all those things, he knew he couldn't say yes to a nap. Instead, he said to me, "Mama, I'm really not tired. Could I have some quiet time reading with you instead?" It was then that it dawned on me he was not trying to wrangle out of something he honestly needed to do. He just wasn't tired, and he didn't need a nap. Period.
In fact, on rare occasions when he does need to nap, he will let me know, and while the timing isn't always convenient, this demonstrates that he isn't just being contrary. Toddlers, and kids of all ages, need different amounts of sleep per day, and at different times of their lives.
His sincere request disarmed me, and helped me realize that rest might be what we both needed more than anything. More, even, than sleep.
And so we read his favorite firefighter books, talked about what we wanted to do this weekend, and caught up in a way that wouldn't have been possible if I'd been spending all my energy getting him to sleep. It's true, I didn't get the dishes done or read a book of my own; but I had the much more delightful experience of hanging out with my son, quietly.
The best part about being a mother? Nap time! Especially during that first year, and if you can afford to be a stay at home mom! Whether you're breastfeeding or using formula, taking care of your little one is a lot of hard work. I've found that days where I choose not to nap while my son naps, I have a hard time falling asleep at night and I am not as patient with my son's little tantrums. With those little cat naps, I feel more awake during the times in between. Sure, the laundry won't do itself and someone has to keep the house clean, but schedule this for when you've got someone else over who can watch your little one, or if you wake up before your child does.
Trust me, it took five long months for me to realize how much I need those extra 10 to 30 minute naps to feel better. Plus, napping will help get rid of those nasty dark under eye circles. Bonus!
I was never much into napping, because I usually sleep enough at night. That is until I became pregnant. Now I can't help lying down for 20 minutes in the afternoon a couple times a week. If even you're not preggers, there are a couple of reasons to take a siesta: napping in the afternoon can improve your memory and snoozing three times a week has been found to be good for your ticker.
Let them sleep on it! Here's some more incentive for getting your lil one down for a nap. A new study by researchers at the University of Arizona in Tucson has found that infants learn better when they nap within four hours of learning new information.
According to the findings, tots who received daytime naps soon after learning a new lesson exhibited abstraction, an advanced level of learning where the brain detects patterns of new information. While both children who did and didn't nap recognized the new data they were taught, those who napped demonstrated a better understanding of the lesson than those who did not. The researchers emphasize that it is still important to provide babies with high levels of stimulation through reading and talking, but it should be paired with regular daytime naps to increase wee ones' levels of retention.
I hated it when my preschool and kindergarten teacher cued us to take out our nap mats — why nap when there was coloring to be done? Before I blame them for ruining my chance at becoming the next Picasso, it looks like they might have been on to something: a new study suggests that an afternoon nap might make you smarter.
Pitting nappers against non-nappers, researchers gave a group of 39 healthy, young adults a memory test before and after a 90-minute nap. When taking the memory test the second time, the non-nappers' scores dropped an average of 10 percent. Meanwhile, the nappers did even better the second time around. The University of California, Berkeley researchers also found that how much sleep the nappers got was much less important than the type of sleep they received. The more "stage 2 non-REM" sleep the participants had — a lighter form of non-dreaming sleep — the better they did.
Apparently, our brains get clogged during the day with information overload and taking a nap helps it recharge. After a brief resting period, it's able to consolidate the information it's picked up through the day, while also clear itself to be more adept at learning new information. While many of us don't have 90 minutes to snooze during our lunch break, even a 15 to 20 minute nap can help too.
Nap time is mommy's playtime. Whether mommy is getting rest or catching up on phone calls, baby's snooze fest gives both mom and child a chance to unwind and re-energize. Unfortunately, these restful moments don't last forever as children slowly drop their naps as they age. Infants can pack in three or four rests while toddlers often hold out for one big sleep. Some tots end up dropping them way before their peers — leaving mama needing her own siesta more than ever. How many naps does your child take?
When is it time to give up or cut down on a nap? My three-year-old son has always been a great snoozer and stills takes a two-to-three hour nap every day. My issue is that every evening he fights us so hard when it is time to go to bed that he ends up staying up well-past a reasonable bedtime. On the one or two occasions that we have had to skip his nap (due to birthday parties or the like) he is so overtired that he becomes a nightmare in the early evening hours. How would you handle this situation?
– Tired of Fighting About Sleep
To see the response from Mommy Dearest, read more
I just read that about one-third of American adults take naps regularly. I am jealous. Napping regularly sounds quite luxurious to me — it is rare that I get to take a snooze in the middle of the day. Now that my 4- year-old is giving up her nap, my chances are even slimmer. A recent survey found a gender split on napping, with men taking siestas more frequently than women. The survey also broke down napping by income level and folks making between $75,000 and $100,000 napped less often than those in the surrounding income brackets. What about you?