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Tired toddlers: hacks for getting through the afternoon!

Alex O'Donoghue

Written by Alex O'Donoghue

5 min read

Nothing strikes more terror in a parent's heart then a long afternoon with a cranky toddler.

Cranky tired toddler starting a tantrum in the afternoon

We've got some ideas to help you put a plan in place and style your way through mid afternoon slumps!


11 tips to beat the afternoon slump 

  1. Put a nap routine into place. A child who is put down for a nap and woken up at roughly the same time every day, gets naturally sleepy and more willing to go down.

  2. If naps are on the way out, put your toddler down earlier, and close to lunch time.  Kids tend to sleep better and for longer when full.

  3. Have story time when your child wakes up to transition into the afternoon.

  4. Go outside together! Whether it’s a walk or the playground, natural light and fresh air has a big impact on your child’s bedtime and sleep as melatonin (sleep hormone) becomes better regulated.

  5. It’s easy to do an outdoor activity if you don’t feel like going for a walk. Paint watercolours on rocks, collect matching leaves or have a picnic with books and drawing activities (weather permitting!). Any form of art can really help tired children redirect their energy.

  6. Set up self-entertainment in the later part of the afternoon. Create a play area, by spreading out toys near where you work, and put on some soothing music. Don't put out too many toys, and kick off the play session with your child, before resuming your own work/chores.

    We've seen parents rotating toys by putting some away for a week - when they reappear it feels like Christmas to your toddler!

  7. Pop your toddler into a bath before dinner time. If they enjoy bathing, it’s a great “activity” which also allows you a chance to bond and splash - while leaving something in the oven to slowly cook.

  8. Have a meal plan for the week and cook ahead as much as you can. Sounds a little aspirational?! Give it a go and see what a huge impact this tweak has on your afternoon juggling. A whiny toddler and a chaotic kitchen are a recipe for screaming!

  9. While you’re prepping, involve your child in the kitchen. Toddlers can wash plastic in a bucket of water on the floor, or unpack a “special” cupboard in the kitchen with kid-friendly items. Even little children can ‘help” you cook when allocated their own tasks.Toddlers feel extremely important when given responsibility - even if this is just chopping a few carrots with a plastic knife!

  10. Instead of (very understandably!) putting on Peppa Pig, make use of the thousands of kid’s workouts, meditation and yoga classes available on YouTube. While a dance class can hype a toddler up, more directive exercise gives a much needed energy boost. Our recommendation? GoNoodle! This is a free website that helps children channel their energy in a way that is playful and fun.

  11. Finally, do what you are able to do! This doesn't mean putting your children in front of the tv every single afternoon, but some days this is what needs to happen. Just try not to leave them alone without some adult connection for more than an hour. They might ignore you in favour of the TV, but sit next to them for a cuddle with a cup of tea and have a chat. 

While you're here

Supporting parents is our mission 😎  And we’re super excited to have launched our new iOS parenting app - it’s ready for you to download! The EasyPeasy App is full of  ideas to help you in meltdown moments or hacks to bring the play back to brushing teeth, getting dressed and more. 

Download now!

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