By Jessica Del Llano
Who doesn’t love a nap? I’d take a nap every single day if I could. And these beautiful little children we bring into the world actually get that chance, and what do they do with it? They WASTE it!
My 2 ½ year old daughter, Sara, has begun resisting nap time more and more. Over the month of December, my husband and I both worked more/longer hours. Various family members came and went, stepping up to watch Sara (for which we are eternally grateful). However, the lack of consistency and routine took its toll on Sara, and even now that our schedules are back to normal, we can’t seem to get back to a nap routine.
I used to be able to count on 2-3 hours to myself in the middle of every day, Whether I was hitting the treadmill, cleaning house, reading, having a nice long uninterrupted phone chat with a friend, vegging out in front of the TV, or taking a nap myself, I had come to rely on that all-important “me time.” Having no break all day until she goes to bed does not work for me.
When she first started putting up a fight at nap time, I compromised with “quiet time” on the couch watching her favorite TV show. Dedicated time to get her to slow down and recharge her batteries. But Sara doesn’t like to sit still very long. Soon she’d be back at play, and I was being beckoned,
“Mama, come play with me!”
That wasn’t going to work if I was going to get anything done. One afternoon I drove around for over 45 minutes because she had fallen asleep in the car. That was an expensive nap considering gas prices, but worth it at the time.
A quick survey of my mom friends told me there’s no cut-and-dry age when children stop napping. Some stopped before age 2, others are 4 years old and still nap most days. I’m so afraid of ending up in the early ending nap group, mostly because Sara really does need a nap. On the days when she doesn’t take one, let’s just say evenings are not exactly pleasant in our house, and they continue to deteriorate the closer we get to bedtime. She misbehaves and ends up in time-out more on no-nap days. There are definitely more tears.
And I know my fuse is shorter because I haven’t had a break all day.
I need that time just as much as she does. But when she’s slept for at least 90 minutes mid-day, she’s such a sweetheart that I’ve considered keeping her up past her bedtime just to hang out with her more. It’s that much of a difference in her mood.
So I’m not giving up on the prospect of a daily nap. In the past week I’ve become the nap enforcer. OK, I can’t force her to sleep. But she’s in her crib, lights out, for 60-90 minutes a day whether she likes it or not. If she falls asleep, that’s awesome. If not, this dedicated time to relax seems to be enough to ensure a pleasant remainder of the day for all.
What age did your child stop napping consistently? Do you have dedicated “quiet time”?