Monday, April 26, 2010

Fighting for Naps

Napping is something Anslie has ALWAYS fought me on. I remember when I was trying to get her on some semblance of a schedule when she was an infant, getting her to nap was a three-ringed circus. At one point I would swaddle her, take her into the bathroom (the darkest room in the house), turn off the light, turn on a hair dryer for white noise, rock and bounce and walk her until she was sleepy, then strap her in her bouncy seat with the vibrator on to simulate the rocking and bouncing, and tuck her in with a t-shirt I had slept in so that she could smell me while she napped (she never took a pacifier, otherwise that would have been involved too). Even then, she still would only nap for 30-45 minutes at a time.

As she got older her naps condensed from several a day to two (maybe around her first b-day?) and you would think that each nap's length would increase since there were fewer of them. Nope. 30-45 minutes, twice a day. Finally, I don't remember at what age, she was ready for one nap a day (I think it was pretty early, maybe 1 1/2?). I knew it was time to cut her second nap because she would wake up from it hysterical and it would take hours to calm her down.

When she was only napping once a day, I could expect her to sleep for an hour to an hour and half. That's IT. Every once in a while she would surprise me and sleep for 2+ hours, but I bet I could count on my fingers how many times that has happened over the last year.

Anslie is now 2 1/2. And she fights me EVERY. DAY. to take a nap. There are days when I don't put her down because we are out and about, or frankly, I just don't feel like fighting. (Those days I put her to bed an hour early at night) She does just fine missing her nap... until the evening time. And then we have a little tazmanian devil on our hands. Anslie becomes defiant, HYPERACTIVE, she won't eat, she hits, throws things, and is generally not a very pleasant kid to be around. (And the best part is she thinks her behavior is FUNNY and laughs and giggles as we try to enforce rules and implement dicipline.) So I feel like she still needs her nap to temper her behavior in the evening.

Here's the catch though. Not only does she fight me tooth and nail EVERY. DAY. to go down for a nap, I can't even trick her into falling asleep in the car and transferring her into her bed. I've driven around town for over 20 minutes when I KNOW she is struggling not to fall asleep, but she fights it every time. Some days it takes 40+ minutes of me rocking her, singing, soothing, and even sometimes threatening and spanking to get her to fall asleep...just for her to rest (and me to get a break from her) for an hour to an hour and a half. And even after all that (today is the perfect example) once I do get her to fall asleep, she will often get up about 5-10 minutes after I leave the room (as if she is faking me out, pretending to be asleep so I will leave) and play, sing to herself, scream my name to come and get her over and over again at the top of her lungs, or, best of all, take her clothes and (ocassionally poopy) diapers off.

So I just don't know what to do. I have a kid whom I think still needs a nap. She refuses to sleep. If she does go down it's a fight (and it's getting harder and harder for me to carry her and rock her with my due date quickly approaching. Not just hard, but physically painful.) Do I let her give up naps now, along with any hope of her napping once the baby is born so that I can get a break from my kids during the day, so that I don't have to fight her and put up with her bad behavior in the evening, or do I keep fighting the good fight and just hope I can get her to "nap" for the next few months to get her the rest she needs so she can be a happy, well adjusted, and productive kid, and until baby and I have recovered and I can get him on a schedule of his own?

Let me just say that some parents have already suggested that I still put her in her bed for an hour or two of "quiet" time instead of nap time, but the risk that I take by doing that is leaving her unsupervised to 1. smear poop all over everything like she did the one time I tried that, 2. figure out how to climb out of her crib and break her neck, 3. destroy her room if she does get out of her crib because really, what 2 1/2 year old can be left for any length of time unsupervised without ruining something.

If you have any advice, please post a comment. I am just at my whit's end and I don't know if I can fight any more. I will have to fight at some point during the day, I just don't what time is best. I'm desperate. And feeling violent. Your thoughts are welcome.


Anonymous said...

I know this is going to sound crazy but put her in daycare, even if its for two days a week so that you can get a break. Abby fights us as well. We usually have to take her on a car ride as well but at least she stays asleep when we get her home. I say daycare because one it will give you time to yourself and time to adjust to the baby and it will give her friends to play with and wear her out. Abby comes home and is like wooo Im exhuasted... like she had a long day at work or something and all she wants to do is play with her dolls and watch tv eat dinner, take her bath and go to bed. Its awesome! She just may not be stimulated enough at home, therefore she doesnt want to nap because she doesnt "feel" tired. Daycare isnt the worst thing for kids and she doesnt have to be there for 8 hours a day five days a week but just enough for you to catch a nap.

Anonymous said...

We had that problem with our first and our last. It's been awful and I can't say I've found a good solution. Rebecca (when she was 1 to 2 years old) would get so mad that she'd poop her diaper if I left her crying in her crib, and she did the smearing thing once. After that I stopped leaving her in the crib. I stopped trying to get anything done and waited until Steve had a day off to help me with stuff. Instead, I started napping with her, or snuggling on the couch with her if she didn't want to sleep, and watching a movie (like Monsters, Inc. or Blues Clues--I have those so memorized even still). It gave me time to rest, but not to have the break I needed. I was pregnant with my second when this was going on and I was going crazy. I had a bit of trouble with my 2nd, but after half an hour of singing Primary songs to him, he'd stop fighting and fall asleep. I never had trouble transferring them from the car/stroller/etc. to the crib until my youngest baby stopped napping at 5 months when he started teething. Life was miserable. I couldn't lay him down for like a year. If he was napping, I was literally stuck holding him. And I did it because if I didn't, I'd have him screaming at me, and I just couldn't take it. So this isn't much help as far as advice, but if she's sleeping well at night, maybe just lengthen out her night sleeping hours, and skip the nap entirely. It might buy you some evening time. Good luck!

Jen Doyle

Tera said...

I totally understand. Ethan has been my only good napper. And ALL 3 of my oldest kids gave up their naps by the time they were 3 years old. I'm pretty sure that Jake was even younger than that, more like 2 1/2 or so. It's so hard. You just need a break. It's why I send them to bed at 6:30 when they don't nap anymore. They are tired and I'm DONE.

Do you think she has a hard time seperating from what she's doing? Is she doing things that are too stimulating before Naptime? Maybe have her color before bed or cuddle on the couch and watch a cartoon or read a book. I have Ethan say goodbye to each and every thing he is doing or eating as we head to bed and it helps him separate. "Ethan, say bye-bye to the cheese", "Ethan, say bye-bye to the car", "Ethan, say bye-bye to Brynna" and it helps him to do this. With Brynna I would take a book and sit on the end of her bed until she fell asleep. Sometimes it took 40 min, for an hour and a half or hour nap. But, I tried to think that the 30 min I was sitting there reading was a break too.

Wish I could be more help. maybe we can figure something out when I come in a few weeks?

Tashauna said...

Have you considered getting her a toddler bed? Jordan was 1.5 when he moved from the crib and it was the smoothest transition ever! That might make it a little easier. Then there's no chance of the climbing out/breaking her neck part. He too fights nap time (and bed time too). Some days, we just do the quiet time. Luckily, I have not encountered the diaper thing, so I'm sorry I can't help there.

Erica said...

sean is 3.5 and STILL acts that way in the evening if he doesn't get a nap during the day. and he fought naps FOREVER. a few things that worked for us are: 1) we pray with him every day before nap & every night before bed. we pray that God will help him calm down, fall asleep easily, and sleep soundly all nap/night long. 2) we have worship music playing continuously in the boys room . 3) we moved EVERYTHING that could be a distraction from sleeping up to where sean couldn't reach it. then, we gave him a couple stuffed animals, a couple books, and told him it was his "quiet time." he eventually fell asleep every time. 4) out of desperation i have, on a few occasions, put a portable dvd player up where he couldn't reach it and put a dvd on with with the volume muted so it would distract him but become boring. 5) how dark is it in her room? we had to have sean's room REALLY dark. 6)have you talked to your doctor? ours just told us that melatonin (all natural sleep aid found in the vitamin/herb aisle) is safe for children, you just give them a very small dosage of it. 7) she may just be ready for a toddler bed (as crazy as it sounds). sean actually napped BETTER in his toddler bed than he did in the crib!

as hard as it is, she definitely sounds like she still needs a nap every day. i think she will come around eventually for you!

Eeks said...

Hey Shillawna! I saw this on your facebook! I could have written this post word for word.

Our girls are almost exactly the same age, and I have had the same problem. Even down to potty interruptions and those days where she skips a nap, and turns into a puddle right smack at dinner time. Good times! Then, dinner is usually a joke, and then she wakes up hungry in the middle of the night, or wants a big cup of milk, etc. It seems like a viscous cycle.

I'm not sure that I have much advice, but I'll share that after trying lots of different things (including letting her take super-late naps, not a good idea!) that in my experience, an every-other-day-nap has worked the best for me. I too, don't have time to spend fighting it. So for example, the days that doesn't nap, and she goes to bed earlier (I can get work done that night) but the trade-off is that she wakes up earlier in the mornings. So, on those days (the other days), we try to stay close to home or do something in the morning and then right after lunch, she gets a nap. I make sure not to put her down too late, because if she gets overtired, it turns into an hour long battle.

The only real problem with this system is that because it means that we rarely get together with other people (kids her age) unless it's an earlier playdate (home by noon). I have heard that the 2.5-3yr sleep window is a tough one, because they're not ready to go napless, but they struggle to take one too. I have a feeling that she's trying to give it up, but I'm just not going to let her! :) I have heard from friends to just let it go, because when you have future children, those kids never end up on a schedule anyway and that they need to just be flexible. But I feel that it's so necessary to have that down time.

Anyway, I hope it helps to know you're not alone. My last thought is to TRY to find a way to get a break. My biggest sanity saver has been a mom's morning out program. She goes 2 mornings a week. It's when I schedule photo shoots, and do editing, or just plain veg out. There may be some kind of part time program available - another mom maybe - or a nearby church. Just something. I would recommend it since you work part time and have a new baby on the way.

Hugs to you and your family. Hope this helped! :)