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Goodbye to naps

January 31, 2018

 Okay, I’m not going to lie.  This transition is really tough.  My little girl used to be pleasant and easy, and then a few weeks ago something shifted, invisibly and without warning.  She quit going to sleep so easily.  She doesn’t want to take naps anymore, and going to bed at night started taking forever.
Notice I haven’t posted anything lately?  That’s because naps are gone.  This blog may die before it even gets off the ground!
For moms with kids who are approaching this stage, I guess you’ll know it when it happens.  When your child spends an hour singing out, “Mo-om, I’m awake…”  or “I’m done with my nap,” before they even go to sleep, you’ll know.  My oldest kept napping until he turned 4, then his brother quit napping right around 3.  I felt like I’d been robbed of an entire year of naps with that one.  But kids are different and you get what you get.  

Here are some ideas that have helped:

1. Monster juice.  When our boys were little they were afraid of monsters, so we made monster juice to help them feel safe. You mix water with whatever wonky ingredients from the kitchen…  Amber's afraid of lions, so Norm made “lion juice” to scare away the lions.  I think she saw part of a documentary that scared her, so at nighttime we made a big deal to spray lion juice around the room, to scare away the lions.  That sort of helped for a while.
2. Move up bedtime.  If she used to get 10+ hours of sleep at night, plus 2-3 in the afternoon, and then the afternoon nap goes away, she’ll have to sleep more hours at night.  On the days when she skips a nap, she’ll go to sleep at 7pm and sleep through until 8am.
3. Take a nap every other day, or every third day.
4. Take a drive in the car, early in the afternoon.  My friend C suggested this the other day, and I couldn’t believe I’d forgotten such a great idea.  That worked beautifully today.  Yesterday it totally backfired, because I didn’t want her falling asleep at 4:45 pm, so I gave her a lollipop, and she fell asleep anyway.  (see below)  Then of course it took way longer for her to fall asleep later at bedtime.
5. Make a chart.  My friend K mentioned this one day, and it’s been a huge help.  Every night I talk to Amber about how she’s not supposed to fuss and throw a fit in the middle of the night.  She gets a sticker for going to bed nicely and not waking me up until morning. 

6. Sit with your baby for 15 minutes while they're falling asleep.  If she's tired, she'll fall asleep really fast.  She used to go to sleep on her own just fine, and hopefully we'll get back to that again, but for now it's working.

7.  Quiet time.  One of my favorite college roommates just reminded me about this gem.  I need to teach Amber the basics, but each day there's an hour where young kids can learn to play quietly in their room, without needing help from mom.  She can read stories or play with dolls or whatever, but this is a solo activity that replaces the nap.
All three of these photos are out of the ordinary.  What we're working for is sleeping in the crib, but I never take pictures of her sleeping there.  The first was one day when it was naptime and she didn't want to sleep and I wanted some exercise.  The second was one day when she was sick, and just laid down on the floor.  And in the last shot, look for that lollipop I mentioned earlier.

So to sum things up, if you’re exhausted and your kid is cranky, I’m right there with you.  I hope some of these ideas help.  Maybe I can look forward to the freedom of not being tied down by naps.  Imagine going somewhere and not having to hurry home for lunch and naptime?  In the meantime, patience.  This stage won't last forever.  


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