For some kids, all it takes is to be strapped into a car seat or any other form of transportation for them to instantly fall asleep. Nap time is a cinch. But, then there are others who simply refuse to drift off to sleep. Many parents realize that these non-nappers are really the ones that need downtime the most.
Instead of struggling to force sleep that refuses to come try one of these five techniques to encourage rest.
Cues and Routine
You have heard it before children thrive on routine. When you are on the road, try as hard as possible to follow a similar structure for the day. This isn’t always possible and does take some extra work but the dividends paid can be worth it. If naptime/quiet time is always around 1pm – keep it that way. Let your child know that the same expectation is there a few times before the actual “hard” deadline for rest.
With no surprises they are much more likely to be compliant.
No, this probably won’t have your child sleeping but It will keep them quiet and put them into the mindset that now is not the time to sing loudly, eat a snack, or engage in another noisy activity. Quiet bags can include soft animals, stickers and paper, I spy bags and other small, quiet activities they can do alone.
How you choose to make this time work for your child is up to you. For some families playing soft, religious music may be what works. While others may prefer instrumental or piano music. For older children guided meditations can be downloaded as podcasts. Whatever it is, the key is to cue the child that now is a time to rest. The music should be reserved only for quiet time. This doesn’t always work but many times a child will fall asleep through this practice.
If your children can already read this is great! If they’re in the early stages then simply providing them with picture books or magazines can keep them engaged. This tool is really effective when small moments of calm are needed. There’s no wrong time to read or be exposed to reading behaviors so this is a great tool to keep in your pocket. Just remember it’s quiet reading time.
Limiting exposure to and reliance on technology is important but allowing short periods can help non nappers slow down and rest. Allowing them a set amount of time to watch a pre-selected video or show can mean the difference between a smooth rest of the day and a bumpy ride.