We want to play, not sleep!

By Drum Digital
11 June 2014

Until what age should a child take a nap in the afternoon? And what do you do if one of your kids doesn’t want to sleep but the other has homework to do? We offer advice.

Every mom with kids in different age groups knows what a problem it creates when one child wants to play, the other needs to do homework and yet another wants to be on her hip. One of these moms asked us on Facebook what to do with her sons who don’t want to nap in the afternoon, while her eldest daughter, who’s in Grade 3, has to do her homework. Her youngest boy is four and the middle child is six.

The mother says: "How can I get my kids to sleep in the afternoon? They fight and whine a lot when they get home from school. I have tried lying down with them, reading stories, reprimanding them, but nothing works! My eldest girl struggles to do her homework because they’re noisy and bother her. We all get home around two o’clock and the kids don’t sleep at school.”

CP de Jager, a vocational and educational psychologist of Vanderbijlpark, says sleeping isn’t really a solution.

“Children of that age just don’t sleep any more in the afternoon and also won’t be sleeping at school. I suggest that the two boys rather be kept occupied with educational toys or a basic, pleasant game like kicking a ball in the garden or in a park.”

He says because the kids are in different phases, the girl should be focusing on her homework and it’s appropriate for her mom to support her in that regard. “Create a safe space for doing homework and be firm with a rule that the boys aren’t allowed to disturb her while she’s working. But be sure to drain the boys’ energy so they end up sleeping well at night!”

Until what age should a child sleep in the afternoon?

Babycenter.com paediatric sleep expert Jodi Mindell says most children stop their afternoon naps between the ages of three and four. “Only about a quarter of children still sleep in the afternoon by the time they’re five and six years old.”

How do I keep my younger kids occupied when I can’t give them attention?

Most moms know how it feels to have to keep a child busy when other things demand their attention. Put together a box of things you know your kid likes and will keep them occupied. For example clay, paint and jigsaw puzzles work. Don’t give them everything at the same time – wait until they’ve had maximum play with one item before you allow the next. And don’t feel guilty because you can’t give attention to them all the time.

Remember it’s an important part of the learning process for a child to discover and learn to understand things on their own.

We suggest these basic, pleasant activities:

Get gardening!

Pinned from happyhooligans.ca

Give each child a safe corner of the garden to do their own thing. Whether they make mud pies or plant seeds, this can only be fun! When the weather’s not suitable let them pot a plant on the porch. Those who don’t live in the Cape where the winters are quite wet can give their toddlers the hosepipe and ask them to water the dry plants.

Make leaf or stone art

Pinned from plaidonline.com

Let your child pick up leaves, put down a few used newspapers so they don’t mess and ask them to paint the leaves in bright colours with water or acrylic paint. They can also paint pebbles you can use later on a window sill or herb garden.

Play with clay

Pinned from modernparentsmessykids.com

You can make your own clay at home, or you can keep play dough in stock. Set your child a challenge such as “make Mom a new dinner service in clay” or “how our house would look if you could build it in clay”.

Have a boat race in the bath

Pinned from raisingwildones.com

If there are two siblings, run water (shallow) into a basin, bucket or bath and cut boats from pool noodles. The kids can race against each other for hours!

Sort out something

Pinned from athomewithali.net

Do you have a box of Lego pieces that are in a jumble? Or a box of toy animals mixed up with balls and other toys? Give your child a container for each colour or type of toy and ask them to place the various types of toys in separate boxes. This also helps you to tidy the room.

Treasure hunt with a difference

Pinned from notimeforflashcards.com

A treasure hunt doesn’t have to take a lot of time or effort, and the “treasure” could even be the hunt itself. This activity comes from the blog notimeforflashcards.com and it works a charm with the blogger’s two- year-old and six-year-old. Choose a few sheets of coloured paper, find toys of the same colour and hide the toys around the house before the kids get home from school. Place the sheets of coloured paper on a table and tell the kids to look for the toys until each sheet of paper is covered with toys of the appropriate colour. This mom used plastic insects.

More bright ideas

For more ideas click here or here  and take a look at our Pinterest boards.

–Dalena Theron

EXTRA SOURCES creativewithkids.com, babycenter.com, notimeforflashcards.com, raisingwildones.com

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