Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Above All Else to Thy Nap Be True

If there's something about parenting that I'm not wishy-washy on, it's naps. My children both started out on a eat-wake-sleep schedule that continued throughout their first year. They both napped easily and for a long long time. Kyle is 4 1/2 and still takes a two-hour nap at least three days a week (and goes to bed at 8:15 and sleeps until 6:30). Amanda was doing the same at his age.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.


morninglight mama said...

Such logical advice that I have wished that parents understood so frequently during my preschool teaching years. I can't tell you how many families over that 10 year span would tell me, "Oh, my child doesn't nap!" Well, guess what, 99% of the time (seriously!), that child would be napping a solid, at least 1.5 hours within a week of a regular school day schedule-- because naptime was a part of the day, and lo and behold, they still needed a nap. :)

Darcie said...

I'm all about the naps myself. For my children, not for myself (although I'm not altogether opposed to those either!). If I didn't have the peace and solitude of nap time, when else would I blog?!

PS. Love your new look Jennifer. So fresh!

oh amanda said...

So good! My daughter is 3 and has been fighting naps. But I refuse to back down! I make her stay in that bed for 2 hours and at least she's had some down time. Just this week I've realized that I need to push her naptime a little later in the afternoon and she falls asleep quicker!

Great post!

Megret said...

True for us, too - - our 2-1/2 yo daughter stopped napping, but we enforced a mandatory 1 to 1-1/2 hour quiet time in her room, and lo and behold, she's napping once again after a month or so!

Cynthia said...

I've been following your blog for a while and just wanted to stop by today to tell you that I'm giving you an award!!!

Oh, yeah, I'm a napper too!

Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

That's my philosophy also. At 1 pm every day (when we are home) my 5 yr. old lays down in a dark room for an hour and then can read/play quietly for another hour. My almost 4 yr. old lays on his bed and 3-4 days a week sleeps for about 2 hours. My 2.5 yr. old sleeps a solid 2 hours every day (unless she hears the big boys up and then my goose is cooked!). This weekend I need to revamp my routine with the baby. He's staying awake longer so I've got to work out the feed, play, nap cycle to accommodate him and homeschooling.

Katrina said...

Very good advice! I've always been a nap-protector, which has won me teasing from family and friends. But I didn't care -- it was worth it! As you know, Camden quit napping at 2, but he was ready and was happy and still slept 12 hours at night (AND was willing to have quiet time in his bed / room every afternoon, so it was win-win all around). We're in transition with Logan. At 2.5+, he's probably ready to drop the nap at least a few days a week, based on the fact that he's been getting up super-early on days after he does nap. Though I love naps, I know I'll appreciate the flexibility next summer too -- not "having" to be home if it's 1 p.m., etc.

Lisa writes... said...

My kids always slept well too. Great advice here! *wishing I still had babies young enough to nap*

Anonymous said...

...please where can I buy a unicorn?