Tag Archives: napping

Nap Time

Wow, it has been almost four weeks since I’ve written a blog post — bad blogger. I’ve been super busy – full days with the children, practicum student visiting, conference, presentations, and several evening meetings every week. There has been plenty to write about but no time to write. I started this post more than a month ago so I better finish it before I move on to other topics.

Nap time. When my own children were young we sometimes struggled over nap time. The ones who I felt most needed naps were the ones who were reluctant to take them. There were battles. So, when I first opened my childcare home I was a little apprehensive about being able to get so many little ones to nap.

At first I had used the second floor bedrooms as nap areas – infants in playpens, toddlers on beds. The daily set-up and take-down process was arduous but generally everyone was cooperative. There were, of course, a few exceptions. My frequent trips upstairs to check on the (non)nappers were sometimes disruptive to those that were actually sleeping.

Before the end of my first year in childcare I relocated the toddler/preschooler nap area to the main floor using cots and the living room couches where I could supervise more easily. I continued to use playpens in the second floor bedrooms for the infants to nap. There was still a lot of time required for daily set-up and take-down and many trips up and down the stairs.

I found it interesting that the older children napping on the main floor often slept longer than the infants who were napping upstairs. Many parents seemed surprised too – most of these older children resisted napping when they were at home yet here they actually enjoyed helping with the nap time set-up, fell asleep quickly, and were often difficult to wake after nap.

There came a time when I began to question the safety aspect of having the infants napping upstairs. Yes, we did practice emergency evacuations monthly and sometimes even at nap time. The evacuation times were considerably longer at nap time and although the older children were cooperative during drills – waiting patiently while I ran upstairs to get babies – I wondered if they would do so if there was a real emergency.

It wasn’t something I wanted to risk. I relocated the playpens to the main floor – giving up a little play space but giving my family back the privacy of their own bedrooms. I chose to leave the playpens set up – losing a small amount of space vs. a large amount of time. I detest setting up playpens.

In my most recent renovation I expanded the space allocated to the playpens. My intention was to eventually replace the playpens with cribs. Eventually came earlier than I anticipated because I found some affordable – compact – cribs at Quality Classrooms. In all my year of perusing equipment catalogues I had never noticed that some of the cribs were compact – taking up no more space than a playpen – and on wheels too.


The extra space is now used to store the preschooler’s cots so they too are out of the way when not in use. Nap time set-up and take down now takes less than five minutes and all the children are visible while I complete the task. When not in use the cribs and cots are out of sight behind these rolling room dividers.


My intention is to use these dividers as easels for art activities but we haven’t tried that yet.

The best part is that all the napping children are within 12 feet of my centrally located desk and within 20 feet of an emergency exit. I’ve come to another conclusion too. As I’ve observed the children as they settle down for nap time I’ve noticed that there are no arguments when they can see me. They lay happily in their beds, talking or singing quietly, occasionally smiling and waving at me until they fall asleep.

I wonder if nap time struggles are not really caused by resistance to napping but rather by the feeling of being left alone in a ‘quiet’ space where the children may actually feel abandoned. Or, maybe these children sleep so well because they’ve been busy playing all morning and getting plenty of outdoor time too.


Ultimately I’d love to allow all the children to move freely from room to room indoors and out throughout the day.  Unfortunately, due to the separation between the rooms in my home there are some necessary restrictions.  I work alone so I am unable to adequately supervise all the areas at the same time. This is the layout of the main floor;


In the drawing I just numbered the rooms because how I’ve used them has changed over time.  If a ‘normal’ person lived here Room One would be the living room, Room Two would be the dining room, and Room Three would be the sunroom/back porch (it was called a ‘den’ in the real estate listing).

Earlier in my childcare career Room One was the living room for my family.  There were two sofas that I used for nap time along with cots on the floor.  Infants napped in playpens in the upstairs bedrooms.  Room Two was used as the playroom/office and Room Three was the dining area for my family and the children in care.  Room Three was also used for arts & crafts, board games, sensory play and group activities as well as storage for small toys and supplies.

That arrangement had both good and bad points.  I liked that my family had plenty of space to use after hours and that all the children’s play areas could be easily supervised while I was in the kitchen.  Both play areas could also be used at nap time with only limits on noisy toys.

The list of problems was longer.  It included;

  • No private space for my own family – no access to bedrooms or living room at nap time.
  • The art/dining area was crowded and had no open floor space so all activities required everyone to be seated at tables.
  • All play spaces were accessed off the kitchen so there was constant traffic back and forth through the kitchen.
  • Cots/playpens had to be setup and put away daily – leaving the children briefly indirectly supervised.
  • The playroom had a large window for natural light but the only ‘view’ was the side of the neighbour’s house.

In 2008 I changed the way I used the spaces.  Room One became the playroom/office/nap room.  Room Two was the dining room/living room and is not used for playing.  Room Three became a dedicated art and messy play area with storage for a wide variety of equipment and supplies. The benefits included;

  • Larger play areas
  • Many quiet time activity choices for school-age children
  • Second floor never used for childcare – more private area for family members.
  • Better supervision during nap time.
  • Limited kitchen traffic
  • Playroom window faces the front street allowing the children to see all the neighbourhood activity as well as the arrival and departure of parents/friends.

There are also some negative aspects.  Using the playroom as a nap area means it is difficult to accommodate children who required an early or late nap. It is difficult to supervise both the playroom and art area so art area is only used by older, independent children or for whole group activities.

The combination of this long, cold winter and the young group currently enrolled has amplified these issues. Usually I allow the children to opt out of any planned activity if they don’t want to participate but with my current group of 1 and 2 year olds I can’t allow them to be in separate room.  That means that any time I plan any activity in the sunroom all four of them have to come along.

It is this forced participation that has been causing angst this winter.  Half of my toddler group love to do artsy stuff, listen to stories and other group activities.  The other half have little patience for any activity that doesn’t involve moving around and exploring independently.  The two groups clash – some get bored/disruptive and others are unable to fully engage in an activity they enjoy.  No one is happy for long in the sunroom so we don’t spend much time there.  This ‘dedicated’ space is so rarely used that it seems to be more of a ‘wasted’ space.

I came up with a plan.  This shouldn’t be surprising – I often change/rearrange the spaces.  However, this will be a BIG change.  So big in fact that I had to wait for just the right time to ‘discuss’ it with my husband (he approves of the design).  So big that there will be several  weekend phases before the entire project is complete (he’s not thrilled about all the work).  So big that it will affect every aspect of my program.

It is such a major change that it has been keeping me awake at night – partly because I’m excited, but also because I’m going through a list of ‘what ifs’.  I like change but this one will be bigger than usual and I want to ensure I’ve considered all the factors.  I don’t anticipate that it will be perfect and nothing will ever need to be changed again but I do believe that the pros will outweigh the cons.

As for the details – for that you’ll have to wait.  Phase one begins this weekend…