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naptime hell

1651 Views 15 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  RedWine
I ned serious help here. I HATE naptime. I truly loathe and resent putting my toddler down for a nap. Okay, let me amend this -- half the time it's a piece of cake, the other half of the time she fights me tooth and nail. This is my danger time, this is when she pushes all my buttons and I have to fight every impulse to yell and spank. I usually end up yelling when this happens
, though I am trying VERY hard to change my ways. It ain't easy.

I look for the same signs every day to tell me she's ready for a nap, and the time is consistent (give or take half an hour). We follow the same routine. Some times she's out in 3 minutes, the other times she kicks, screams, hits, thrashes around, etc. This is extremely difficult for me because at this point in the day, both of us really need her to nap. I need a break, and if she does not nap she is one huge holy terror for the rest of the day. She is very tired, this is not a case of her being ready to give up naps.

Strollers don't work, the car works ocassionally, but our baby hates the car, so I can't torture her for the sake of my toddler's sleep. She gets tons of attention from me during the day. Being gentle and snuggly isn't working. Raising my voice isn't working. Lying down next to her isn't working (she ends up kicking me and the baby).

We have a 2 1/2 month old baby, but this toddler behavior has been going on since I was pregnant, so I don't think it's a reaction to the baby. Actually, right after the baby was born, my toddler didn't fight for a long while. About a month ago, it started back up again.

This is the time of day when I feel like I become monster mom in reaction to her behavior. I want to find a way -- an effective way-- to handle this, without turning into the parent I do NOT want to be.

Any words of wisdom out there?
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dd (3) does not need the nap every day. *i* do though LOL
half of the time it is a mystery to me when she needs to nap and when she does not. on some days it seems that she would skip, but then she collapses, exhausted. some days i think she would nap, and she does not.

she would go for weeks napping every other day, then would go a week without napping, and then when i think she is done with naps, she would surprise me with napping every day for a week.

right now i'd prefer consistency -- either she naps, and i can count on this, or she does not, and then i can count on that LOL

could it be that she is figuring out how much sleep she needs?
what about having quiet time instead of napping to recharge her?

i KNOW what you mean -- *needing* her to nap. what i find really helps me is to tell myself over and over and over again that i need to go with the flow. if she naps, fine. if she does not -- fine. if i rely on her napping, and really want her to nap, and she does not, then our day is ruined, because *i* become cranky LOL then i end up without my personal time AND cranky. so it works out for me to have a more relaxed attitued, and then at least i am not cranky when she does not nap.

often i find our quiet time recharges me as well, especially if Max cooperates.
i usually put Max in a swing in front of a baby einstein video. i HATE doing this, i do not like swings, i do not like him watching TV at 5 months. if he starts crying i go to him right away, if he is just fussy in 2 min, and i HATE this too. so it is easy for me to grow recentful. if dd falls asleep, i rationalise that Max naps on me, sleeps with me, and 20 min of TV a day won't harm him, if he is content there. if she drinks all the milk, and Max will fuss later (not a big deal, but he will not be too pleased LOL), and then does not fall asleep, and i let Max fuss for 2-3 minutes -- THEN it takes me great effort to remain calm. but i know it is not her fault that she did nto fall asleep. and yet! this one is a tough one.
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Thanks, Anna. My dd needs a nap EVERY day...I have tried doing without it on the days she fights, she just ends up being super-tired all day long and having meltdowns every half hour.

Regarding the swing idea...I understand your reasoning behind this. I don't want my 2 1/2 month old watching TV either (we don't allow TV for our oldest, and are about to get rid of it altogether). But it is something to think about.

It's just so...irritating. Especially since I know she needs the nap.
maybe something she is eating that stimulates her too much?

we do not watch TV either -- Ada does not watch it, we do not have cable, just several dvds and videos, so it is a tough choice for me.

sometimes i wear Max in the sling till he falls asleep, and then i lie down to nurse Ada, but he wakes up half of the time, and then i have to start all over again. sometimes i let him be next to us and play, but 80% of the time he gets bored and fussy, and even if he is happy he is too loud for Ada to fall asleep, she wants to play with him.

it is irritating. i might have sounded a touch more zen about it than i am :LOL
today Ada has a cold, we tried TWICE to nap, and i think she is *rested*
but not only she did not nap, but i think her bedtime now will be way too late.

just surviving here. i already yelled at her teddy bear for jumping on my keyboard and erasing an email, and then apologized. hoping this will be the last one for the week (i find i lose it like clockwork, once every 6 days). ~serenity now serenity now serenity now~ :LOL

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Okay, I have been dealing with this problem too. I don't ever spank, but do occasionally yell when I lose my cool. told my mom about this and that I really needed some help (my dh is overseas). We went to stay with her for a few days. She went with me to the bedroom at naptime and I showed her what is usually going on. Her solution was so SIMPLE but it WORKED. We told my ds (22 months) that it was quiet time. He didn't have to nap but we were all going to lay down and he didn't have to sleep but he did have to keep his head on the pillow. Only with 3 gentle yet firm "head down" statements from my mom and 7 minutes later he was asleep. We did that for 3 days while we were at her house and the longest it ever took was 16 minutes for him to fall asleep. I now have implemented this technique on my own now that we are back home. don't know if this will work for you but it has been a godsend for me!
I generally let my 2 year old decide if she needs a nap badly enough. If she doesn't she may be cranky that evening beyond belief. But, holding her with music on the computer or telling her I want to sit with her and watch a movie without even mentioning the dirty NAP word works. I play with her hair and she falls asleep. I have never made her take a nap. Now she is approaching 2 1/2 and a few days a week I find her asleep in one of the beds in the house or on the couch all on her own. The way things have turned out it was worth putting up with her crankiness all those months. Which I realize doesn't seem like the perfect solution. But, it worked for us in the end.
this used to be my strategy -- and still is to some extent. i do not regret it in any way, i am not a fan of schedules. i would not have changed it, if i had to do it over again. however HOWEVER having a baby makes it just so HARD. because i need to balance her nap with a 5 months old who cannot be left by himself.

i think the whole issue is, at least for me, balancing the two. with one baby / toddler it is not a big deal.

We were going through much the same thing not too long ago. I will tell you what we did with my almost 3-year-old.

I realized one day that 90% of the problem was that I was trying to control ds's sleeping. I thought I was being so attached and loving by laying down next to him to help him get to sleep. However, there were many times when my presence was actually making it harder for him to sleep. My motivation wasn't so much about giving him the gift of my presence--it was about wanting to be there to "make sure" he went to sleep. Some days he would tell me that he wanted me to go out of the room, but I would get so frustrated when he would play and keep himself awake, or worse, get out of bed and play and keep himself awake. I would alternate between laying with him to get him to sleep, leaving the room when he or I got frustrated, and then coming back in when I got frustrated because he still wasn't asleep. It was awful, and he was not getting the naps he needed.

The day I realized that *I* was the problem was a day of revelation for me! Half the battle was realizing that I had to change my expectations and my perceptions. I had to stop getting so hung up on whether or not he slept. I had to decide to let him "own" his own sleep. I can tell you that things changed overnight for us when I realized this.

Now, here is what I do. I do go in and lay down with him, but I keep my own mind more flexible about what will happen from there. I try to stay out of the mindset of feeling like he "has" to go to sleep. If he seems extra restless, I tell him that I will lay with him for a few more minutes, and then I will go out. If he continues to toss, turn, kick, etc. then I tell him that mommy is going out but I will come back to check on him in a minute. At first, I wasn't sure how this would work because I thought he would cry and protest. But, he doesn't cry and get upset about it. He seems to appreciate having his space when he needs it. Sometimes he will call out for me, and when he does I go right up and reassure him that I'm still here, and I will check on him in a minute. Alot of times, he doesn't call for me at all, but just lays there and plays in his bed or goes to sleep. Now, I don't insist that he go to sleep, but he does have to stay in his bed and rest.

In the 3-4 weeks since this turnaround, he has actually slept all but one afternoon!

Your child is somewhat younger than mine, so that could affect things. I don't think this would have worked for us six months ago, but ds is becoming more independent in a lot of ways recently, and this was good timing for us. We have also done the same thing at bedtime, after spending close to an hour every night laying down with him to get him to sleep. Last week we told him that he thought he was old enough that he could go to sleep by himself at night. We built it up as a really positive milestone. We bought him a special night light for the occasion. We lay down with him for 5 minutes, and then we go out. He never cried or anything! He thinks it's really cool that he gets to "fall asleep all by myself!", as he puts it.
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I will try your approach. It seems to ring true somewhere within me, so I think that may work well for us.

Thanks you -- and everyone else!! for your kind and thoughtful responses!!

i totally know what you're saying!!! i find that i get the most frustrated when im trying to "force" her to go to sleep...i am trying to work my oldest dd, kya, 2 1/2 naps around when my youngest dd, carson 1yr. falls asleep. its usually the same time around 11am. i just nurse carson and lay her down and there's no drama, crying, nothing....then when i try to get kya to nap all hell breaks loose!!! the best case scenario is when i notice she's starting to need a nap (its usually very apparent as the meltdowns increase) i will sit down on the couch and she'll climb up in my lap. somedays when she seems a little too wound up i ask her if she wants to nap on "mommy's" bed with me...sometimes she'll run to the room and jump up on the bed and go to sleep w/ me. that's when im "expecting" a nap and if she decides that she's changed her mind, im get angry... i seem to get the most agitated when im trying to accomplish something and kya's has different ideas!!

i've also learned that i need to change my expectations of how are day will go. if im more laid back and going with the flow, im a happier mommy
with happier kids! somedays they get good naps and i either get some much needed laundry folded or i take a nap myself! my hellish days are when i FINALLY get kya asleep and the minute i lay my head down on the pillow, my youngest, carson wakes up.
oh well.....i keep telling myself it'll get easier

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just wanted to add that my 2 yr old can do this too - i am 7 mo pregnant and getting a bit nervous about when the baby comes.

she just turned 2 and definitely still needs a nap. right now i lay down with her - on days that she is so fidgety and it isn't happening easily, i give up after 30 min, place a gate across her door (leaving it open), and explain that she needs to have quiet time now in her bed. generally within 10 min at the gate she is calling for me, so I go up and remind her that it is quiet time, etc. she won't fall asleep on her own but she will give my sanity a break. she will fall asleep in the car in 5 min, but i don't know how that will work with an infant too, so the gate is what we are trying.

i don't let her get so worked up that she is crying, but will let her fuss a few min.
I have two sleep-fighting girls. Between the two of them, they only slept 30 minutes today.

They've fought naps since they were little.

My oldest, is between 2 1/2 and 3. She NEEDS a nap everyday, as you said yours does. She is just such a bear by the middle of the afternoon otherwise. The problem is SHE doesn't think she needs a nap. This is a hard age for them, and I think the more we fight the worse it gets. If I give dd a sippy at 4pm on a couch and leave her alone... there is a good chance she'll sleep. Way to late for a nap, but it's the only way these days.
If I let her rest sufficiently, then I can still get her in bed a reasonable time... Anyway, try waiting to put her down for a nap until later.... quite inconvenient for you, but it might work better for her.
The quiet time doesn't work for us, but might work for you.
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Originally Posted by RedWine
This is the time of day when I feel like I become monster mom in reaction to her behavior. I want to find a way -- an effective way-- to handle this, without turning into the parent I do NOT want to be.

Any words of wisdom out there?
What I did was start to assume that she would not nap. I didn't even try to get her to nap. Suddenly conflict was gone and so was the danger time (I was like that, too). TV, IMO, is MUCH better at those times . . .actually, anything is better than such frustration! Also, I tried planning to be out of the house at 3, taking a walk usually. The afternoon is a hard time for most children, even adults. I read somewhere that dusk is hard for people because it's a transition, and transitions are VERY hard for children.

Now my 3 y.o. goes to bed very easily, admits when she's tired, and will even nap on her own (goes to bed and falls asleep!) sometimes. I think it's because she grew and also because we stopped making sleep a "thing."
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funny that we were just talking about this, when this week my almost 3 yr old will now say "i tired, i nap, need your ear..." she sucks her thumb and rubs her ear, your ear, the dogs ear....but she won't fall asleep!! but i've adopted elena's routine and now fights are far and few between! thanks elena!
Our son started this shortly after he hit 2. I'd pretend he didn't need a nap (even when I knew he did) and tell him I was going to go put the baby down for a nap and he could come help me but he'd have to be really quiet or he could read a book (or some other quiet activity) until I was done. Sometimes he'd sit and read but a lot of times he'd come with me and watch the baby nurse and talk and sing or 'read' to him and then when Ben was done nursing I'd tell Jay we had to be quiet now so he could fall asleep. A couple of times when Ben would have trouble falling asleep I'd ask Jase to help me rub his back or suggest we both lay next to him and pretend to be asleep so Benny would want to nap to (he loved this because he felt like he was helping, and occassionally he'd even 'pretend' himself to sleep but not often). Then when the baby would fall asleep I'd ask Jason if he wanted to stay and nap with Ben or come out and play quietly by himself while he napped. [Ben honestly didn't need quiet to sleep but the quiet time would often help transition Jason into being ready for a nap.] And I cleaned or folded laundry or something--it seemed that knowing mommy wasn't staying up doing something fun without him at naptime convinced him he wasn't missing out on anything by taking a nap (which isn't entirely true because I'd often take the opportunity to eat ice cream, take a bubble bath, give myself a pedicure or do some other thing that would have started something if he'd been awake). [Of course maybe he just went to bed because he was afraid if that if he told me he was tired of reading or bored playing by himself that I'd rope him into helping me with housework, LOL.] When I stopped trying to make him take a nap he started electing to take them himself (not the very next day or anything but soon enough) and he might go 30 min or and hour later than I would have put him down (because he was rubbing his eyes, yawning, getting unsteady on his feet and whatnot) or he might go down before the baby, but he'd climb in the bed or bring his pillow and blanket out to the couch and be out in a minute or two without any fighting. He actually napped better, more regularly for better lengths of time, once he felt like he was in control of it. For mine it was part of hitting that independent stage and just wanting to make more decisions for himself. And I felt it was a safe enough outlet for him to play at being grown-up. Besides it's got it's own built in consequences (being down right exhausted, etc) so you don't even have to do anything to discourage them but let them try it enough times to get the cause and effect of what's happening. Which I know sounds scary as all get out when they can be difficult if they don't get a nap (because you think YOU'LL pay the price), but if they do something calm and quiet like play with books or puzzles or better yet something that allows them to zone out a bit--J sometimes like to lay out on the balcony and watch birds--they unwind enough to be bearable often better than if they only take a short forced nap. [I don't know how it works for you but when I'd make J sleep when he was fighting it he'd only stay asleep 15-30 mins before waking himself up at which point we'd both be more irritable because I would have spent so much energy trying to coax him to sleep that I wouldn't have time left get anything done before the baby would wake up and J because he was still just as tired only now he was bitter at me too, so forcing naps was really a waste of time for us which made it really easy to try something else.]

I wish I could say do ----- and it will be better, but it just doesn't work that way. I know of no magic fixes. But letting her figure out she needs a nap might work, because part of the problem now is that even though you know she needs a nap she may not get it yet. So letting her figure out that she can't make do without a nap might be what she needs, if she only naps because you want her to she won't know the value of getting rested. I swear the day my son figured out how rejuvenating sleep could be it changed everything; he'd nap better, he'd go to sleep at night and not wake up 3 or 4 times crying but actually sleep the whole night until he woke up in a good mood ready to play or eat. It was a slow couple of mos or so before he really figured out why he'd want to take a nap/sleep instead of stay up and play or whatever, but then the change was practically overnight--from day 1 he had no more qualms about naps and from day 3 bedtime wasn't a problem either. So if you can wait it out, it just might pay off.

Another thing is she sounds like she might be having trouble with self-soothing. Sometimes they hit the independent "Me do" phase before they know how to do the things themselves, this is common with toddlers so you've probably encountered it with other issues at some point. Since she exploding when you snuggle her or lay with her it might be that she doesn't like feeling dependent on your help to go to sleep. So if your routine includes a lot of things you do for her like reading a book to her and rubbing her back, etc. you may have to change it up a bit. She may just need to help her find something she can do herself--like stroke a doll's hair or snuggle a bear/blankie (one of my sons would scratch at the bed sheets, knead the pillow and shift around to find just the right spot, a trick he picked up from the cats) or let her 'read' the bedtime story to you, etc--just something that makes her feel like she's putting herself to sleep might smooth things over if she's struggling with that sort of thing.

Whatever you end up trying we're all pulling for you, so if it's not working just ask for more help, CJ.
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Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh hhhhh!!!

I did NOT handle it well. I get so riled up over the flailing about and kicking, I KNOW she is tired and it makes the rest of the day go so horribly when she won't nap. I yelled today and did NOT handle the naptime issue well. We've had a few good weeks and then today -- it was hell in a handbasket.

I am a crappy mama sometimes. I will be SOOOO glad when we are out of the "terrible 2s"!!

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