Now I know that some children sleep more than others by nature, so I am in no way claiming superior child-raising ability because my children nap well, but there were some things that I have learned that I would love to pass on to those of you trying to figure out how to handle toddler or preschool naps.
- Don't give up. When I thought that Amanda's napping days were over because she seemed as if she didn't need it, I kept her in the routine with her "resting" in her room, and within a week, she was usually surprising me by napping again.
- Don't listen to their words -- judge their actions. Whether he seems tired or not, or claim not to be, if he is an emotional basketcase after missing a nap, I know that it should still be a part of the routine.
- Routine is the key. Whether your child is one or four, if you want her to nap, provide the opportunity to nap. I was never hyper-vigilant about missing one day for a fun outing or a family gathering, but if I knew that they were going to miss one day, I made sure that there would be an opportunity to nap the next day (up through their third year -- after that I considered anything I got to be "gravy," but fortunately my kids like gravy).
- Weigh your options. Because Kyle still naps, he wakes up a bit earlier, but for me I'm willing to sacrifice an hour in the morning for the afternoon break (and the opportunity fr him to have an afternoon mood reset). If you really hate mornings, when they start waking earlier, cut out or reduce their naps.
- That's right -- reduce. The fourth principle is that it's not all or nothing. After age three or three and a half (for my long-napping kids), when their nighttime sleep was affected, or morning came earlier than even I could handle, I started reducing their naps (in length and/or frequency -- I often have to wake Kyle out of a hard sleep after two hours). That's what I've been doing with Kyle now. Last week, he missed Thursday and Friday, but it was apparent on Sunday and Monday that he needed to nap. So now I make sure that he has at least a couple of naps a week and play the rest by ear.
Preschool naptime Works for Me! For more household tips, visit Rocks in My Dryer each Wednesday.