No more naps – say it ain’t so!
After A LOT of perseverance, you finally worked out the kinks in your toddler’s nap routine. A story, lullaby, kiss, and lights out, and she’d quickly fall asleep, leaving you to workout/shower/prep dinner/toilet scrub/surf. But now that she’s a big-girl, she’s just not that into naps any more. So you’re losing that chunk of productive/chill time AND you have to play/read/feed/craft for two more hours every single day? Yikes!
Weaning: it’s not just for milk.
Around age three (if you’re lucky), your little fireball might start to protest her nap. Loudly. Tucking her in and trying to make a Great Escape can result in wall-kicking, book-throwing, and tears… fun! Some days she’ll cave, but then she’s reluctant to go to bed at night, wakes up earlier than usual, or, worse, creeps into your room in the middle of the night wired and wanting to play. Other days she’ll skip that nap, turn into a zombie by mid-afternoon, and crash long before bedtime. Awesome for your evening, but the next morning she’ll wake up far too early and on the wrong side of the bed. Dealing with little miss cranky before your coffee isn’t exactly the best way to start your day.
Who doesn’t love
me-time naptime more than moms and dads? Nobody. Which explains why the problem isn’t JUST that you have to put up with her over-tired crankitude, it’s also that you have to give up that kid-free-window in an otherwise loooooong day. So, you can try to force naps for a month or two, driving both of you nuts, or you can cut them out entirely for a month or two, driving both of you even more nuts, or you can take a page from our book: moderation. You saw that one coming, right?
When our second baby was born our then almost-three-year-old was in a total funk. It didn’t help that his sleep needs had changed and we were too exhausted/distracted/clueless to notice. He started fighting his nap, so he started fighting us, so we switched to enforcer-parent-mode (never a good time), so he fought us even harder. Since he was the only one who could actually shut his eyes, shut out the world, shut down his mind, and sleep, guess who won? It took a little while but we eventually figured out the best solution was the path of least resistance. We started “letting” him skip his nap, which made us superstars in his eyes, and two or three hours later we’d conveniently plan a stroller/car trip, during which he fought a brave fight but in the end, always lost the heavy-eyelid-battle. We’d let him sleep about forty-five minutes, wake him gently with a snack and a toy/park distraction, and do our best to ignore his grumpiness until it wore off (right around the time the food kicked in). After a few months of shorter, later naps, he started winning the war against Mr. Sandman again, so we pushed it even later and kept it to thirty minutes max. After another month or two, we cut out those forty winks and never looked back.
But there’s still the issue of being on-duty all. day. long. to deal with. And there’s still a ton of stuff you have to do with even less “break” time to do it in. The bonus of having a preschooler is that a lot of those things you used to do solo because, ya know, the baby wasn’t too keen on sitting calmly while you marinated the chicken, can now be done together. In other words, if she’s awake, she’s a-working. If you give her the choice to nap or be your sous-chef aka personal trainer, she’ll be delighted to exercise/bathe/cook/clean side-by-side and you can still get er done. But hold onto some solo time after lunch, even if it’s only half an hour. Spending day-in-day-out joined at the hip will drive both of you bananas, and quiet time is just enough absence to make your hearts grow fonder. At nursery school, they label this “free-play”. Smart, right? Set her up with her flavor of the month: markers, stickers, puzzles, non-batteried toys, playdough, your (inexpensive) jewellery box, and then walk away. After about thirty minutes of quiet time our oldest was then rewarded with about thirty minutes of TV, which bought us almost an hour of me-time while the baby napped. And that, my friends, was pure bliss.
If your baby’s no longer a baby then don’t treat her like one. But trying to quit anything cold turkey doesn’t allow anyone to adapt, no matter how old they are. Transitioning to a no-nap household is easier when you ease into it. And when you stock up on craft supplies.
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