It is a sad day for many parents when their toddlers stop napping. That one-to-two hour respite in the afternoon is important for both the child and their parents, in my opinion. My three-year-old has been fighting naptime since only a few months in to her second year. She sleeps at day care, but Lauren has been refusing to sleep at home for almost a year now.
It hasn’t been pretty.
I know she needs her naps, and you would know it, too, if you could see how “wild” she starts to get around 3 or 4 p.m. on a day where she didn’t nap.
My husband and I tried everything, from punishments for not napping to rewards for actually sleeping. I even took her to Target, let her pick out her own prizes for taking naps. Never once did she take the bait. Not. One. Time.
So, I turned to my big sister for more ideas on what I should try to help Lauren sleep during the day on the weekends. She is not the first to tell me this, but she suggested we drop naptime. Instead, let her hang out in her room with quiet activities, like puzzles and books. She probably wouldn’t sleep, but she wasn’t sleeping anyway. At least this way, we wouldn’t have the drama over it.
We tried it a week ago, and Lauren protested at first having to go into her room at all. I calmly told her we could go back to the “old way,” where she had to stay in her bed and super quiet. She got the hint and went to her room. I set the kitchen timer for one hour and walked away.
She didn’t sleep, but it was good time for her to cool her busy three-year-old engines, and good for me to get a few things done around the house and tend to the baby.
This past weekend was a different story.
Lauren had a busy Saturday morning. Chris took her to a garage sale (which she came from and declared, “We’re not suckers.”) and then to the park. So when quiet time came around, she played and played and played. About 40 minutes into her quiet time, Chris popped his head and suggested Lauren close her eyes for a few minutes. After all, she had a birthday party to go to in the late afternoon. Apparently, she took his advice. At the 53 minute mark into her 60 minute quiet time, Lauren fell asleep. I haven’t seen her eyes closed during the day at our house in so long, it was a miracle.
Lauren did cry when we had to wake her up from her nap to go to the party, probably angry that she had fallen asleep. Sunday, there was no nap during the quiet time. That’s ok, though. We avoided the drama and stress of trying to enforce a nap, which I think actually improved her overall demeanor over the last week. And who knows? Maybe some other special Saturday, she’ll allow herself to let her big green eyes close and catch some sleep.