I am a full time stay at home mom with a 9 month old girl, and a 3 year old boy. My son was always an epic napper. I was spoiled, and nap time was my favorite time of day – I could get things done around the house, and even have the chance to relax for a few minutes of my ‘work day.’ I was worried about juggling it all when my daughter was born, but I knew I would have my son’s nap time as the glue that would hold my day together.
When my son started to drop his nap time (first he would skip one day a week.. then it was three…) it really started to stress me out. We would have fights about it every day. I would give him toys I got at yard sales when he napped, and take toys or privileges away when he didn’t. We were all pretty miserable! I decided to bring up the topic at my son’s 3 year check up with his pediatrician.
During our discussion of Cameron’s sleep I mentioned that sometimes Cam wakes up with what I called ‘night terrors’ – he is sort of awake, but a bit delirious, and usually inconsolable and screaming. The pediatrician asked me when Cam went to bed, to which I answered, on days he naps around 10pm, and on days he doesn’t around 7:30. She noted that those 10 days must be “long days” – you got that right! And then she made what was to me, an earth shattering suggestion: drop nap time. She said that night terrors are often linked to over tired children, and with Cam going to bed so late, he wasn’t getting the solid chunk of night sleep he needed. She said, still give him “rest time” (quiet time in his room for an hour or so) – if he falls asleep, fine, but take the pressure off and don’t stress over it.
Here’s how I made it happen – For Cameron, rest time is from 2 – 3:15. 2 is also when his sister goes down for his nap – so for my sanity I like to have them be in their rooms at the same time. The reason I picked 3:15 as the end time is because it is very easy for Cameron to see on his clock – both hands point to the same spot. We have a great clock from IKEA that is perfect for this. Cameron’s door knob used to have a ’safety cover’ which we got from Amazon that keeps him from being able to let himself out – we don’t need this any more as he is with the program and knows that he has to stay in his room for the designated time period – but you might want to try something like that initially. Finally, we have a video monitor in Cam’s room (honestly we bought it for Violet but we get a lot more use out of it with Cameron!) I use it to make sure he isn’t getting into too much trouble up there. It has a PA system so I can talk to him if I need to.
Cameron is allowed to play with toys (nothing electronic) and read books. For now, the system is working great – Cam generally doesn’t give too much of a fight about staying up there the whole time. In the evening, my husband has an alarm on his iPhone that signals that it’s time to get in the bath and then go to bed. Cameron is usually quite happy to start his relaxing routine! I think if you are getting to the point of stressing over and fighting with your child about nap time, it might be time to try switching to a ‘rest time’ or quiet time in the room. It revolutionized the evening routine at my house and I couldn’t be happier!