Oh, Naptime, It Was Fun While You Lasted

Oh, Naptime, It Was Fun While You Lasted

When one toddler drops her naptime, her mom struggles to keep it together.


By: Nicole Fabian-Weber

About three weeks ago, my 2 1/2-year-old started doing this funny thing around naptime called NOT NAPPING. I played with her all morning, fed her lunch, gave her milk, and then read her a few stories in bed like always, but then when I left the room, instead of settling down for a lengthy slumber, she either played for a few minutes and then got out of bed and opened her door, or just … immediately got out of bed and opened her door.

This wasn't an ideal situation for many reasons. Those include: 1) My daughter’s nap time is when I get a lot of work done; 2) Um, have you ever spent an entire day with a toddler?; and 3) We have a baby on the way in a few weeks. A newborn and a toddler who recently ditched her afternoon nap? Dear God, why?

The first week or so that this not-so-fun thing started happening, I fought the situation, tooth and nail. I refused to accept it. I brought my daughter back to her room, read her more stories, gave her back rubs, more milk, anything. I even tried putting her down later and later each day. But she was on to me. And she wasn’t having any of what I was dishing out.

The days became extra stressful. I now had to honor work commitments while there was a toddler either grabbing at my laptop, climbing on things she shouldn't be climbing on, and/or asking me questions -- and I’ll be honest, I wasn’t in a good mood. As I tried to work, I angrily wondered why my daughter wasn't asleep. What happened?! Where did we go wrong?! This new regimen was affecting both my parenting and my work (and I mentioned I'm 11 months pregnant, right?). And there also was the fact that my daughter genuinely seemed like she still needed a nap. By 5 p.m. each day, she was done. And by "done," I mean "insane." Periodic back-arching, kicking, screaming tantrums from then until bedtime -- and no, it wasn't just her "being a toddler." She was exhausted.

More from P&G everyday: 5 Tips for Teaching Toddlers to Listen

The following week I made a choice. Instead of putting her in her room, hoping she would nap, I just assumed she wasn't going to go to sleep. I tried putting her down like always, as she seemed tired and sometimes even asked to go to sleep, but I didn't go into it thinking things would happen a certain way -- if there's one lesson I need to heed from parenting, it's that nothing ever goes as planned.

The first day, she didn't nap. I simply brought her down from her room and we had an hour of "quiet time" -- something I really didn't think she was capable of grasping, but something she didn't seem to mind at all. In fact, she quite liked it. I worked as she played with her stuffed animals near her little kitchen, and I was able to actually concentrate. And even better, I wasn't in a salty mood, thanks to best-laid plans. My daughter was still tired at the end of the day, but I was able to handle her tantrums better since I didn't have the emotional exhaustion that accompanies going toe-to-toe with a toddler all day. I felt ... lighter.

The next day, she took a nap. Yep, a big ol' two-and-a-half hour one like what she used to take every day. From there on out, we've been sort of hit or miss -- some days she naps, others she doesn't (truth be told, I have a hunch it might be her 2-year molars) -- but I stick with my plan of basically assuming she isn't going to and not fighting the situation if that's the case. For the first time in awhile in my life, I'm just going with the flow, and I have to say, I see what all the fuss is about.

Sure, it would be great if my toddler went back to consistently napping every day, and yes, in the back of my mind, I secretly hope she will. But if she doesn't, it's OK, too. I got this. At least until I have the baby.

How did you handle your toddler ditching the nap?



Nicole Fabian-Weber is the mama to a sweet toddler girl (with a boy on the way!). She lives outside of NYC and writes for The Stir and numerous other online publications .

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