Monday, December 19, 2011

just in time for christmas

I need your help.

Everything I've ever heard about a child giving up their nap goes like this:
- The child has a hard time sleeping during the day
- The child drives their parent crazy with the NO SLEEPING during the day
which eventually leads to
- The child no longer naps during the day

That is not what is happening at my house.

What is happening at my house is this:
- The child (Alice) sleeps perfectly well during the day
- The child (Alice) takes lovely two-hour naps during the day and I am able to get some stuff done and reset for the late afternoon slog
- The child (Alice) has a HORRIBLE time falling asleep at night
- The child (Alice) drives her parents crazy with the number of times she requests bathroom / water / back scratches / toe nail clippings until an unearthly hour of the night

We've tried everything we could think of to explain what's happening, and the one I keep coming back to is that this weird behavior is her way of giving up her afternoon nap.  That if she didn't take that lovely luxurious blissful 2-hour nap during the day, she'd put that sleep into the evening hours instead.

But I'm not 100% on this theory.  And quite frankly, I don't want to be right.  I want to be WRONG.  I want her to do BOTH: sleep well during the day AND the night.  Maybe I'm hoping for too much, since she'll be four in March and most of her friends have stopped napping.  But tell me what you think, and give me your best advice.  And if this really is her way of giving up the nap, how do I still maintain that little bit of daytime peace?


Mrs. Irritation said...

I'm sorry I have nothing to offer on this. My kid gave up her nap when she was 2 (cue Mommy sobbing). Hope you manage to work through it and maintain your sanity.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

This was similar to how Z gave up her nap (right after E was born. SUCKY TIMING THERE Z.)

If she slept during the day, which she seemed to need to do, she would be cranky when she woke up from her nap and then up till all hours of the night. If she didn't sleep during the day, she was a WRECK around dinner time and it was a battle to get to bedtime without a major.... battle.

So we started with a 30 minute quiet time. I started putting her toys (plus a few new ones) into several bins and for her quiet time, she could chose one bin and I would set her clock (it turns a different color at the time you set) for 30 mins and tell her she had to have quiet time, alone, in her room, by herself until her clock turned yellow. It took about a month of wrangling over the quiet time (taking away privileges if she came out or threw a fit about quiet time) but I honestly think it was the wisest thing I've ever done as a mother. No kidding. She had a quiet time up until this year (when she started going to kindergarten) and she still has one on the weekends and she LIKES IT. When she misses her quiet time she whines about it.

Oh and I slowly increased the quiet time to an hour. I figured she didn't have the patience for a full hour at first and I was right. But now she often stays in there longer than an hour.

Amanda said...

I insisted on naps until each of my kids were 5. I'm sure bedtime was horrendous with my oldest (I have PTSD so I don't remember it all) but I firmly believe that we all needed an afternoon rest.

condiefamily said...

I tend to agree with'cluess but hopeful mama'. She is in the midst of a transition which means you are too! In my experience I have learned that as children grow they need less sleep. You may be giving up quality 'me time' in the daytime but you will be gaining quality 'us time' in the evening. You and Chip will value this time together especially before the man-child arrives!

Bird said...

Oh! Oh! Oh! This was us! This is exactly how Fussbot gave up his nap. He slept like a log for 3 hours in the afternoon and would still be up at 9pm unable to fall asleep and not really causing problems (except for coming into the living room every 30 seconds) just AWAKE.

We tried shortening the nap and waking him up which was horribly unplesant for everyone involved an not really so helpful either. Finally we just did away with the nap but its not without its own set of problems.

Fussbot now goes to bed around 6:45 (he also now gets up around 6) and if he's had an active day he can really be a bear starting at 5. He knows that he doesn't "have" to nap now so on days that we need him to nap (either to catch up on some sleep or because he'll be up late) its much harder to get him to do so. When we dropped the nap I did immediately institute "quiet play time in your room by yourself with the door closed" which works surprisingly well. When I was pregnant I used this time to lie down and rest or just regroup or cook and he seemed to benefit from some down time also.

It was a rough transition and not an all or nothing endeavour for long time. Good luck!

Alicia said...

I am going to disagree with everyone and say that I don't think it necessarily means she needs to give up her nap. Most of my kids (2 of the 3 who have reached this age) have started these nighttime behaviors whether they've had naps or not. In fact, they tend to have even worse/extended nighttime ridiculosity the more tired they are, which means that it has gotten even WORSE when they've given up their naps.

I also don't think it's necessarily either/or. Griffon doesn't take naps at school anymore, but he still takes naps on weekends when he's home. 90% of the time he falls asleep when we put him down on weekends, but when he doesn't, we let him get up after an hour of "quiet time." (And then bedtime is way worse... because he's more tired...)

I highly recommend the "You can get up after an hour of quiet time" idea also because it seems to make them fight sleep less if they know they CAN get up (after an hour or so) without sleeping... We do this for all four kids, bigs included, on Sundays. It's called "Beth Family Quiet Time." K almost never falls asleep. A usually doesn't, but knowing she can get up after an hour, she'll sometimes read a book and fall asleep for an hour or two... G almost always falls asleep (even though he doesn't take naps at school anymore), and baby A always does.

I feel like sleep is a lot more malleable than people think... If you want her to continue napping, I think you can definitely make it happen. Just have to find a way to cut down the other stuff at bedtime.

Alicia said...

Oh. And quiet time for us means you have to be in bed, but you can read books if you want.

kately said...

boy, I think if she's sleeping in the daytime, I'd be inclined to let her sleep. Then, maybe try to find boundaries/parameters for Alice to adhere to in terms of water requests/toenail clippings (huh??), etc. so that she has to stop all requests when the timer goes off or something. You can leave her in her bed alone at night and she'll just hang out, right? Shelby still needs the nap during the day even though she says she doesn't want it. I still insist. If she doesn't get it, she'll start spinning (literally) in circles towards dinnertime.