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M has always fought naptime somewhat. But when we were breastfeeding it was easy to nurse her down in a quiet dark room, most days. When I weaned her, it became a challenge.
So first was the naptime drive. Every day I would just stick her in the car for a 2 hour drive. She sleeps very well in the car. But she needs her music on and the car needs to be moving. She will start stirring even at a long red light. So I put a lot of miles on the car for a few weeks. Then I said this is too ridiculous and I can't do it anymore. I still resort to it occasionally if she is gonna need an early nap before a dr appt or something like that.
Then I discovered staylistening. She often had to cry and tantrum for awhile at naptime. I think she had some big feelings stored up that came out at sleepytime. I began just sitting and empathically listening through these spells and generally it worked quite well. She would fall asleep eventually and sleep well and be very happy when she woke up, and it helped our connection.
Then I started getting diminishing returns with that. I think most of her stored feelings got let out. But she still sometimes just didn't want to sleep. She would be upset and tantrum a bit, but it stopped feeling like "this is not just about the nap, you have bigger feelings going on" and it started feeling like "you just don't want to nap." She just seemed frustrated with being stuck in the room. I tried to stick to my guns for a couple of days but one day she napped only like 45 minutes after over an hour of trying to get her down, then the next day no nap at all after an hour and a half. So I decided something has to change.
Luckily in my random googling I found a parenting q&a blog that discussed how some toddlers just refuse naps, either as a shortlived phase or somewhat regularly. It helped me a lot because it described that just like eating or pottying, you can't MAKE them sleep, you can just provide a good opportunity and create the circumstances that encourage it.
So now we have "quiet time". We talk about how quiet time is coming, then ask if she is ready for quiet time and maybe a nap, we go in her room and make it dark and turn the fan on, sit on the potty and read a few books, put on a big comfy nap diaper, and then we are confined to the bed for "quiet time". I sing her quiet songs and we put her stuffed animals to sleep and lie down and try to get comfy. This lasts up to half an hour or until she falls asleep. But after half an hour I give up and she can go back out to the main room and play.
It has been a few days of the new quiet time policy, no tears or frustration, and one nap she has been crankier in the evening from not napping enough but I think eventually her nighttime sleep should adjust. I will give it a week or two.
Anyway there's my naptime update I mainly feel better because I know I can do a half hour of quiet time when baby brother arrives. But I can't do 2 hour drives every day or 1.5 hour failed napping attempts. So I feel really relieved about that!!!!
I'm sorry M started fighting naps again... I know it can be frustrating when you know they should be tired and when you need a break!
Eleanor is not a very good napper, either. She used to fight sleep like crazy- I would have to walk/bounce/rock her for a minimum of half an hour to get her to sleep every single time and when she was taking multiple naps a day she would pretty much NEVER sleep longer than 30 minutes. It was enough to drive you crazy... working so hard for 50 minutes (or longer!) to get a 25 minute nap, so frustrating and so draining! Now she usually doesn't fight sleep so hard (and I am so grateful for that!) but she still doesn't sleep for very long... most days 45 minutes to 70 minutes and she is done, and will never take a second nap. I pretty much just gave up trying to anything more... there is only so much a mommy can take!
That's great that you guys are doing well with the quiet time. I used to nanny for a 2 year old boy who had quiet time every day. He would go in his room with some music on his CD player and he had to stay in there playing quietly for at least 45 minutes. He would fall asleep sometimes and sometimes he wouldn't, but it worked for him. I'm not sure how his mom worked him up to being alone in his room for quiet time, but she was a very AP mama and he didn't mind quiet time at all. Maybe M will work up to independent quiet time!
I'd love to work up to independent quiet time!! I know right now that is not something that would work for her though. It may be a temperament thing. M is so interactive and social and active and noisy, she very rarely plays quietly or keeps still at all, she will not just sit by herself with a book for example, though I have seen other kids her age do that. Me singing quietly and directing her attention towards lying down and getting comfy is VERY important otherwise she just leaps up and starts dragging things around the room, jumping off of furniture, trying to open the door or window shade... but maybe over time she will internalize the quiet time idea more.
I'm glad that you have found something that will work for you guys when the baby arrives. I am going to be there soon! Our nap time nurse is going to be the last to go, but I should be to the point of trying to cut it out within 2 weeks so I will definitely be trying some of your techniques. Thanks for the update.
Proud mama to:
Avery Elizabeth (08/27/2011) & Dawsyn Brielle (10/29/2013)
I really like the quiet time idea. Because you are absolutely correct, we cannot "make" them sleep. So just make a comfy quiet place and if they want to fall asleep they can. I sometimes think nap time was "invented" for the parents.
Thank you *Kiliki* for my perfect siggy
When you know better, you do better. And when you do better, you know HINTA.