If you have a younger child who naps during the day, drop-off and pick-up for your school-aged child can be challenging. While you can choose a preschool that best suits your schedule, or adjust daycare drop-off and pick-up times, elementary schools have a rigid schedule you must accommodate. As such, your younger child is the one who often pays the price in shortened naps. However, there are ways you can rearrange your younger child’s day in order to make the most out of nap time.
For young babies, it may be that multiple naps are affected by school drop-off and pick-up. Thankfully, multiple naps per day is only temporary, so the worst juggling won’t be for very long! Don’t feel bad if one nap ends up being “on the go,” in a carrier or car seat. Try to have their longest nap of the day at home in their crib. Ideally, this is the early afternoon nap (12:30-2 is a great time to aim for).
Looking at the day as a whole, you can get a better picture of how to rearrange the day to get them to nap after morning drop-off and before afternoon pick-up. The best way is to take notes: what time do they wake? How long do they stay awake between naps (awake window)? How long is each nap? Once you have a few days worth of notes, you have a few choices.
Four ways to maximize nap time
Rouse your child earlier in the morning, so you don’t miss morning drop-off and can set up daily naps to happen earlier.
Keep your early-rising child awake slightly longer in the morning, so morning nap happens after drop-off.
Shorten the morning nap length, in order to time the afternoon nap to begin earlier and last longer
Consider moving your child to one nap instead of two, if they are close to it.
If you find your baby too tired by late afternoon, adjust with an earlier bedtime.
The afternoon nap is often the one most affected by school schedules, but it is by far the most important nap of the day. For children who have two naps, it’s best that the afternoon nap be the longest of the two, as this sets your child up with habits that transition well to when they have only one nap in the afternoon. Whether it's one nap or more than one, you may still find that you have to cut the afternoon nap slightly in order to make school pick up, but with these tips we hope you are able to maximize the nap time as a result!