Around age 3 our (now 4 yo) DD stopped needing a sleeping nap. It would take an hour to get her to sleep, she would sleep for only 30 minutes, and then have a hard time going to bed at night. So we switched to quiet time in her room. Really it is more of a break for me, but I think it is good for her to have time to herself too.
My question is how to keep her in her room for the quiet time. We used to have a gate on her door. That worked well since she still felt connected even if she couldn't get to me. But now she can take the gate off herself, so it really doesn't help. I'm pregnant now and in real need of a nap for myself. So this really is about meeting my needs right now. She just won't stay in her room on her own.
DH suggests that we lock the door (we turned the lock around to the outside after she locked herself in her room a few times), but I am not comfortable with that solution. We are a non-tv family... I know a lot of folks put kids in front of a dvd at times like this but that isn't something we would consider. So I need some ideas. How can I get her to stay in her room and be safe while I am sleeping? Is it possible? Maybe I am hoping for too much.
I wouldn't lock the door either. We use audiobooks. And a stack of real books. She can listen to stories, or 'read' or just lie there. I lie with her (in our king), along with the baby, and whoever naps, naps, and whoever just rests, rests.
My 3.5 year old is now a no napping, anti-quiet time little bundle of energy. I do insist on some quiet time though (same reasons, a break for me and him - he is an intense little boy!)
I will read him a book then let him have a pile of books, toys (anything not messy!) whatever he chooses to keep him occupied. For some reason he has been on this music kick with a particular CD, that will keep him occupied for like 30 min's!
What helps is telling him, and showing him when quiet time is done. I tell him on the clock what # to look for, there are some great kid-friendly count down timers that I may get. It seems to really help with the confusion about when he's done, since that's all he cares about.
Some days he can stay occupied for an hour, sometimes less, sometimes a little more - depends on the day.
Forgot to add: we don't lock the door. Lights are off, door is open part way - he comes out all the time - I gently redirect back in...it's a work in progress.
Honestly, it might just be that you won't get that same kind of break anymore. I think it's important for kids to have "down time" or "rest time" during the day, but with some kids you have to work for that time. It might mean reading them a story, snuggling them, doing a quiet activity with them, etc.
However, it is possible to manufacture "mama breaks" throughout the day. I have some activities on hand that are not always out and available for my kids, but when I do take them out can keep the kids occupied in independent play for quite a while. Of course it depends on what your kiddo is into, but some things that work(ed) for us are: playdough, stringing beads to make a necklace, cutting with scissors, face painting (they paint their own face in front of a mirror that I put at kid-level), etc. Toys that aren't regularly in circulation can do the trick too (esp. those annoying noisy toys, lol).
I also think a pp's idea of trying an audio-book is awesome.
Like you we are a tv-free family, BUT we do allow occasional computer time. Every once in a while I let 4yo ds have half an hour on starfall.com. I don't know if that would work for you guys, but I thought I'd throw it out there just in case.
ETA I just re-read the OP and realized you need to nap while she rests. Perhaps one of the activities I suggested above might work to keep her occupied. Or you guys could snuggle up together, read a story or two, and then put on some quiet music for you to sleep to and her to rest to. Perhaps just having you in there with her (or her in your bed) would make staying in bed more appealing to her.
Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010
We use a rewards system for being quiet and staying in room. A star sticker for every successful rest time and 10 stars equals an ice cream. Works pretty well but we started with a very short time (15 minutes). We also do audiobooks.