What I wasn't ready for was the internal struggle over whether or not to let him drop the nap.
At first, I let him go without naps. Since so many parents told me it would happen, I just went with it. But after just a week of letting nap time go, I noticed that it was making my child a miserrbal brat from 4pm on, and a terrible sleeper at night! Sure, he went to sleep by 7pm without issue, but he tossed and turned all night, waking at least three or four times.
Rather than force him to take a nap, I tried to make him have "Rest Time" in his room. He could play quietly in his room for an hour.
This kind of proved to be worthless too.
We went back to taking naps the next week...
For those of you facing the nap transition period, I thought I would outline the difference I see in my child between Naps, Rest Time and saying, Screw it. Because, to just make the blanket statement, "children stop having naps after three," is TOTALLY CRAP! Just like with every other big change with your child, you have to find a comfortable balance to make the transition as smooth as possible.
Ollie is nearly three-and-a-half and still NEEDS his naps. His nap begins after lunch between 12-1pm and lasts about two hours.
He wakes up refreshed and happy. And stays that way until bedtime at 7pm. I try to get him up to the bath by 6:30 but due to he and FTD playing and him getting a little older, I let it slide until 7-7:30. He is asleep by 8:30 every night. Though I shoot for 8pm.
Naps, by far, make for the best day for both Ollie and I. Sure bed time is a little more difficult, but to have a nice guy all day, and a GREAT sleeper at night, it's worth it. When Ollie has his nap, he sleeps at night from 8pm-7am.
Rest time is that in-between nap and screw it phase. I usually resort to rest time when Ollie is being SUPER difficult about taking his nap. Or, we have had a crazy busy day that kept us out past nap time. I stick him in his room for an hour to play, which he rarely protests, since he is already tired from missing his nap.
Rest time only nets me an early easy bedtime that starts at 7pm. He tosses and turns all night long, and wakes up four or five times crying.
Needless to say, even though the early easy bedtime is awesome, it's not worth the horrible sleep we both get. Rest time is my last resort. Ollie falls asleep around 7:30pm and wakes around 6:30am
Screw happens on the rare occasion that nap time and rest time are impossible.
No nap or quiet rest time results in a demon toddler. Think: Mean as hell, almost like a Godzilla toddler. He throws toys, temper tantrums, his food and anything he can find to toss at Professor the Cat.
Being that screw it, results in complete and utter toddler dumbassery, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, my three year old is FAR from not needing a nap.
Bottom Line: Every child is different, and just because every kid on the street stopped having naps after turning three, doesn't mean your toddler will be the same. And even though I love an easy, early bedtime, it's not worth the last three hours of the day when my toddler melts down, only to toss and turn all night.
Besides, I need his nap time to recoup too, so as long as my child needs a nap, I will give it to him!