The Necessity of Nap Time

Mothers worldwide know the importance of regularly napped children. Those same babies with mostly lovely regular little napping schedules then become tots who begin to doubt your wisdom and their bodies’ need for the nap. And what happens next can be the difference for a family’s well-being and Mommy’s happiness and sanity.

Nap derailments can come when you least expect them. Holiday schedules threaten their inevitability. Sickness can destroy a well-earned nap schedule with one night of fever. And a car induced nap can rob you of a longer better placed nap-time.

Those who don’t think this is a big deal, I now hate and disown you because what we Mom’s end up with is spending the remaining hours of the day in some sick sadistic time warp where hours feel like days. And we are doomed to carry out the rest of our day’s work making the dinner or giving baths to little psychotic people.

Fiona on the Necessity of Napping on

Sleep deprivation makes me mean. In the same way, that one hour nap is absolute salve to the temperament of the toddler. And when a nap is missed, it makes her mean times a thousand.

Everything is wrong. Invisible items on the floor hurt her sensibilities. Bright lights cause shrieking. You can’t eat that cracker because all the crackers in the world belong to her. A change in the tone of your voice is proof there is no God. There’s something that must be living on her tongue that she points to regularly which has now taken a figurative possession of her vocal chords. Can’t I understand? And because I wont let her assuage her aggravation in front of the TV for another three or four hours, I am dead to her.

Passed out in the high chair on the Necessity of Nap Time on

I then get the crying sound cannon aimed at me as it follows me around the house blasting me with the highest longest convulsive shrieking. She cries AT me. Even when I’m on the potty. And so I have now decided to put certain rules in place about napping to cover my butt.

  • If there has been no nap whatsoever achieved by 3PM, its car ride around the beltway time. Keep driving. At least you aren’t getting cried at.

  • If the child has fallen asleep in the car, give up that crazy notion that you can get them inside, up the stairs, strip their coat and boots off, and place them in the crib for the rest of the nap. You leave them in the car with the engine running, go pee and grab a book, and wait that nap out. Read above first paragraphs to refresh your memory for the why.

  • Never wake a sleeping baby or toddler. There’s a reason for this long-standing statement. Figure out who’ll sit in the car. Figure out whatever you need to figure out but waking them is not ever an option (well maybe like once but mostly never).

sleeping Fi on the Necessity of Nap Time on

  • Fight the urge to run into their room when they cry. See if they go back to sleep. Give it just five minutes. Time it. If they don’t go back to sleep, do anything to keep them in their cribs. When their 14 months and little “I can stand up!” Jack-in-the-boxes, lay them down, pin their hips with one hand and pat their butts with the other, and tell them it’s all good and you’re there. Be ready to lay on the crib rail with your head patting and pinning their hip until they fall asleep again. This technique worked with two children.

  • If they’re bigger, say toddler size, and you know they’re tired and then, when you enter the room, they give you that sly “I’ve got you” look, have a seat in the chair in the room, do not make eye contact, calmly tell them to lay down, and them fiddle on your phone until they stop crying and eventually fall asleep. It just worked for me minutes ago and took about 15 minutes. That was a Super Nanny trick I saw a long time ago. (Sadly I discovered upon her waking she had a poop in her diaper but it’s not my fault she can’t talk.)

Eamon and Fiona sleeping in the car on the Necessity of Napping on

And if all else fails, YES! plug them into the Pooh/Elmo marathon they’ve been harassing you for and then walk away. The mounting anger and frustration at knowing what you’re in for the rest of the day with a non-napped child will not get you what you want. Be ready to get your needs met another way. You do need a break and it is unfair that you just got robbed of your entitled nap time and now move on. Make another plan. And then make a new rule like” don’t try to nap them before 1:30″. Or get them outside to actually run up and down the sidewalk each morning. Or have a friend come over and give you a half hour break. Making a toddler nap action plan tells you that you still have choices and that you are in charge. And feeling overwhelmed isn’t helpful to anyone. Good and bad, Mommies are still the ones making the decisions even when they don’t feel like it.