nap advice from France-based mums / dads please!

(12 Posts)
averagemum Thu 28-Oct-10 15:50:25

Hello there,

We live in France; my ds is 2.2 and goes to halte garderie five mornings a week. The problem is that he just won't nap after lunch anymore - this is a new thing, but he hasn't napped for the past 5 days, so it's looking like a permanent thing! Our doctor insists kids need naps until 4 years old - which seems a bit excessive. Plus, every single French mum friend I've spoken to tells me it's too early for him to be dropping the nap. I realise I can't make him sleep, and he does go to bed at 6.45pm and sleep til 7am now, which is great. So in principle I'm fine with it. My question is just how other people with non-napping little ones handled maternelle, which is a year away but the 2 hour "sieste" is such an established thing here.... (He'll be going to the local French school down the road if that makes any difference!).

Thanks in advance for any thoughts.

OP’s posts: |
Weta Thu 28-Oct-10 16:55:18

We were in the south of France when DS1 was aged 2 to 6, and had similar issues.

It really is a cultural difference, as my impression is that most English-speaking children drop their naps when they are about 2 whereas French children do go on until about 4. But we tend to put children to bed around 7pm whereas French children stay up until 8.30-9pm, so the amount of sleep they are getting is the same really. So I wouldn't worry about what the doctor says!

DS1 dropped nap at about the same age as yours, so we used to say he had to have an hour of quiet time in his room (inspired by a friend who would put on a kitchen timer and let her daughter choose 5 toys from the lounge to take to her room). He would then go to bed around 7pm.

For maternelle I only took him in the mornings to start with (as I thought it was all a bit much to do full days at 3). When he did go in the afternoon he had to lie down quietly with the others for an hour or maybe a bit more. It helped that he was used to having a rest at home, and then peer pressure helps a lot too. You could always ask local friends how it works at the school, or even ring the school and ask (maybe among some other general questions so you don't sound too loopy!).

However, the problem we did find was that we were out of sync with friends for social occasions etc as we would be invited for aperitif etc with children at 6pm, or he would be invited to play at 4pm and it would all get a bit late. When he was a bit older we gradually pushed bedtime back a bit later.

Othersideofthechannel Thu 28-Oct-10 18:12:02

He may sleep at school because the others are. DD slept at school even when she had dropped her nap at home.
Or he may just end up doing a quiet activity. One child I know ended up 'helping' the teacher put out the stuff for the afternoon session.

averagemum Thu 28-Oct-10 18:16:11

Thanks for your reply Weta! I think the quiet time with a timer thing is a really good idea - I've been doing an hour in his bed even though he's not been napping, and some days he's been pretty quiet and happy, others (like today!) not... but I'll stick with it as he does need a rest, and it will keep him in the habit of it for school. I agree about the full days for 3 year olds, and plan to take it slowly to start with. Our early bedtimes are completely peculiar here, but as you say the amount of hours works out the same over the 24.

So far the out-of-sychness hasn't been an issue (he was born here) but I can see how it will become one as he starts having to fit in to other people's schedules! But you've really reassured me, thanks.

OP’s posts: |
averagemum Thu 28-Oct-10 18:16:40

*out of synch-ness, I mean!

OP’s posts: |
averagemum Thu 28-Oct-10 18:17:45

Just saw your post otherside - yes, I'm going to put my faith in peer pressure, too, I think. Thanks.

OP’s posts: |
Weta Thu 28-Oct-10 21:02:21

You'll work it all out, I'm sure. The schedule thing depends on your friends etc really, but I always just acknowledged that we were a bit different because of being foreign. Depends how flexible your DC is too - DS1 wasn't at all (ie couldn't cope with a late night) but DS2 is much more so.

But I did find it was worth persisting with the quiet time - DS1 carried on having a quiet hour in his room until he was almost 6, and at 7 it's still a time where he watches tv or reads and I have a rest while DS2 naps.

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late30s Fri 29-Oct-10 19:45:02

Hi there, mine were never big sleepers (they're now 7 and 10) and so the obligatory sieste was also a worry for me. In the end the youngest used to lay awake, he didn't seem to mind and just benefitted from the quiet time. I remember being rather freaked out by all the rows of little beds and the obligatory blanket and pillow! Now we're just grappling with school meals and the fact that he doesn't get a choice and isn't keen on anything with sauce on!!!

hattymattie Wed 03-Nov-10 17:42:46

I collected mine in afternoons for petit and moyen section as I did not want them bouncing around at 10 pm at night. Whilst expecting my third the school was very helpful and let my second join the grand section class at siesta time thus avoiding the nap.

BriocheDoree Wed 03-Nov-10 18:43:12

Oddly enough I have the opposite problem: DS still needs to nap and will only do so in school. Roll on going back to school because I'm sick and tired of him being grouchy by 5 o'clock!
With DD she just did mornings in petite section and they weren't required to nap in moyenne section. However, it was a real pain with her. She spent her last year of halte-garderie only doing mornings and I was pg with DS and would have loved her to be there a bit more as I was struggling!

bunnyfrance Thu 04-Nov-10 15:55:31

Reading this thread with interest - my DS is only one, but is already different from French kids with regard to naps - he only naps 30 mins in the morning and 30 mins afternoon, but sleeps 11 hours at night, fine with me. The nounou says she's never seen this before and says it's "pas normal"! Maternelle will be interesting.

jenpet Thu 04-Nov-10 16:41:33

I've been pretty lucky as DS1 always needed a nap, (even though he is the oldest in his class, so was almost 6 before it was dropped! shock)but I witnessed others in his class pretending to sleep (they're all curled up in the library on their little beds and some were quite obviously just lying their quietly with their eyes open) depends on the school I suppose, but there was no option for DS1 - think peer "pressure" plays a part even at this age....

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