My youngest is turning 4 this month. He still needs a nap. I keep waiting for the days to arrive when he survives the afternoon without falling asleep or without falling apart (if he doesn’t squeeze in a nap).
Nope, not yet. Like clockwork, he gets sleepy and weary around 1pm. It’s become a taboo to talk about the nap.
“Is it nap time now?” he’ll ask with worry.
I gently answer, “yeah, it’s that time again.”
“Noooooo!” he emphatically responds.
For the past couple of years nap time appeared in our day in one of several ways.
1. He falls asleep on his own in the car or on the couch and I can easily transfer him to his bed. (Yeah, isn’t that crazy that he will let me transfer him from one location to another?? He’ll even transfer from or to a stroller! It’s unbelievable luck).
2. He is awake but desperately in need of a nap and I pick him up and carry him to our bed, snuggle next to him while he cries and protests. All the while reassuring him. Within moments his protests melt into a warm snuggle and he lets go to sleep. I’ve enjoyed many an afternoon nap with this munchkin as well as enjoyed slipping away from his sleepy arms to enjoy a cup of tea and blogging.
3. Big tears and upset over the very idea of a nap. This has become a norm these past few days. We’ve decided to call nap, “quiet time.”
Yesterday he puttered around quietly, reverently reading in honor of “quiet time.” Then he came to me with a sad and whiny voice, “I’m bored. I don’t know what to do.” I held out my arms and he crawled into them and fell right to sleep. I transferred him to the couch with ease.
Today, he fell asleep on our way home from preschool and I transferred him to the couch where he lies sleeping now.
With my oldest, now 7, I remember having a very specific nap time routine. We would read a story, and I would sing 2 songs all the while rocking in the glider rocker until she fell asleep. It would take between 5-20 minutes on any given afternoon.
She was trickier – absolutely did not transfer well from one location to another. I got it down to an art when I was home and transferred her from my arms to her bed by holding my body close to her on the release until she settled back into her sleep. I remembered feeling so overwhelmed on the days she woke up during transfer and wouldn’t go back to sleep!
Both my children have taught me that when I maintain the boundary around their sleep, they are happier and better behaved. I’ve taken in stride now the nap ebb and flow with my one and only napper – the tantrum afternoons prior to nap versus the flow of falling into sleep without difficulty.
Both of my children require transition time after their nap most days. It means holding them upon wake-up, not talking too much, and having some extra cuddle time until they are ready to embrace the awake world once again.
What are your biggest challenges with nap time?
Or what are nap patterns that have helped you and your child?