I never would have guessed that I would have issues with my toddler napping. From birth, Tara took wonderful naps. The ease with which she napped helped make my transition into motherhood easier than it could have been.
Since about a month or so before Brant was born, Tara began fighting naps. Whether it was due to my growing belly interfering with what I was able to do physically (picking her up and putting her on my lap was increasingly difficult and uncomfortable), a sense that change was coming, or just nearing the age of two, she began having napping issues. Simply put: she did not want to take a nap.
Before having Brant, she would still nap some but other days she was not interested. It wasn’t too much of a battle because she would just stay in bed and talk or play with toys. I was so exhausted that it didn’t matter to me at that point!
After Brant was born and all of my help left, I had a newborn and a two year old who did not want to nap. I was at a loss as to what to do because adjusting to two kids was hard enough with all of its demands. My toddler napping issues made life even more difficult. I was hanging on by a thread crying out to the Lord for help a lot during this time.
So, for the last eight months, I have tried various methods to try to find what works the best during this time. I was exhausted and needed to rest myself, and I was desperate to find something that would work with Tara. I wanted to be wise and discerning because I wasn’t sure that she needed a nap every day. However, I was confident that on most days, she did. And, it was evident that she still needed a nap most days. By dinner time, she was having meltdowns and having a difficult time having self-control over her emotions (which is already a struggle for a two year old). But you just can’t force a child to sleep!
I tried disciplining. I tried staying in the room with her until she fell asleep. I tried a rest time in which I allowed her to play with toys quietly in bed or stickers or book reading or listening to quiet Bible songs on a CD player. I did not have success with any of these all the time. Most recently, however, quietly sitting in bed and reading or doing stickers seemed to be the most effective. The problem still remained: most days she demonstrated the need for sleep.
Just recently, my dear husband, the amazing man that he is, figured out the solution to our problem. Since the time change, it stays light outside much later than the rest of the year, as you know. Naturally, it is harder for her to go to sleep when she thinks it’s still day time! We needed to solve this problem, and so we put a big, dark towel up over her window to block the light. We took out her books and stickers. Then, in a mostly dark room, we tell her she can do whatever she wants to as long as she stays in her room. It worked wonders. There is nothing to do in there but go to sleep, and the environment encourages it! During the day at “rest time” I would turn on the light and let her read books, do stickers, and listen to music. When I thought she needed to sleep, I didn’t do anything different and she wouldn’t sleep (looking back, it’s no wonder I had toddler napping issues!).
My husband has been home during the week lately since we are in transition. Many of these days, he has been handling “rest time.” The other day, he took her in, explained that it is rest time and that the light is staying off because she needs to rest. He tucked her in, told her to stay in her room, and left the room. He came back to where I was with my jaw gaping. Do you know that she was asleep within twenty minutes? And that she has since napped every day since? I wondered why I hadn’t thought to do it before. I don’t know. But I’m so glad that he did!
It has only been a few days, but I hope that this is our long term solution to my toddler napping issues that have been a tool of sanctification for me over the past several months. If you are having problems, maybe you can give this a try, too!
Have you had toddler napping issues? If so, what solutions have you found?