I fully admit to not knowing anything about daycare. When Lilah was born, my intention was to stay home with her until she started Kindergarten, and I even vaguely entertained thoughts of homeschooling her myself (I figured my math ability would run out about the second grade level, so it wouldn't be a long-term thing by any means). So I felt a little lost as I gathered the supplies she needed to take with her the first day. A cubby box. Diapers and wipes and a set of extra clothes. And of course, a nap mat.
The term "nap mat" conjures up my own time in Kindergarten, where we had to lay on these little red and blue bricks for an eternity each day. God, I hated nap time. I had stuff to do. Drawings to draw. People to talk to. Rocks to pick out of the heels of my jelly shoes. You know, Bidness.
And I guess that there just hasn't been a lot of advancements made in nap mat technology since 1983, because those horrid little things are still available at the start of every school year. But some folks finally realized that maybe kids deserve to have a comfy surface upon which to sleep each day, and so the daycare at my employer offered a much cushier, home-made version of a nap mat for the low, low price of $25.
$25? That is why I have sewing machine and stash of random fabrics.
So I scoured the internet, looking at nap mats here and there and piecing together my own measurements and plans until I came up with this:
It rolls up nicely and neatly, ties closed with this fun ribbon which doubles as a carrying strap.
Of course one of the best reasons to take on your own project is so you can personalize it. I love this font; it reminds me of old Vegas for some reason. It stitches out great in this large size.
One feature I liked about some of the mats I found online was this attached blanket. The child can either sleep on top of it for an extra plush surface or snuggle beneath it in the cooler months for a little extra warmth. I used a leftover piece of fleece for the blanket so I wouldn't have to finish the edges, but I think I'd like to go back and add a blanket stitch in a contrasting color all the way around for a more polished look.
The work I did on it over the long weekend was to go back and lightly quilt it so that the stuffing would stay put when I wash it each weekend.
The pillow took two bags of stuffing and I used a piece of 1/2 inch padding plus a full-size quilt batting for the interior. Those were the only purchases I made since I had all the fabric and the ribbon at home.
The plaid fabric I found at the Goodwill "by the pound" store about 4 years ago. At the time I bought it, it was $0.99 a pound and there was a good 5+ yards of this 60" wide decorator fabric; I probably paid $5 for it all. Even thought it was meant for pillows and curtains, this fabric has a very nice, soft finish while still being durable, so I was pleased to have enough to create such a big piece. And it is big.
This mat should last her through her whole daycare career! At just about 5' long, it can even go on to serve as a bedroll for spend-the-night parties later on. It's not too baby-ish, and I'm just super pleased with the results.
I think someone else is pleased, too.