For the last year and a half, Little Oats has been down to one nap, sleeping for about two hours right after lunch. When I’m home, my days are clearly segmented into morning and afternoon, or before-nap and after-nap. And when Baby Oats was born, I was thrilled to have nearly two hours each afternoon to snuggle my newborn or nap myself uninterrupted. Since Little Oats so obviously needs the sleep, I fully expected this nap to last for at least another six months as she’s only 26 months old now.
When 12:00pm hits, we start our nap routine. I take Little Oats up to bed, she pees on the potty, we read a book, and I tuck her into bed. On a typical day, she chats to her ‘buddies’ in bed for a few minutes until she dozes off. I can usually expect her to wake up or talk in her sleep around the one hour mark, but then she settles in again and sleeps for another 45 minutes or so. It’s enough time for me to nurse Baby Oats and rock him to sleep, get myself some lunch, and either tidy up, doze a bit, or do some writing.
For the last week, naptime has been non-existent. I don’t know what happened or why things changed, but as with every stage, as soon as you get used to something, it changes. We go out in the mornings, do plenty of activities, and come home for lunch. At around 12:30pm, we start nap routine. But instead of chatting quietly in her bed then falling asleep, Little Oats has been chatting, and playing, and singing and reading in her bed, for up to two full hours until either she or I decide ‘naptime’ is over. For six out of the last seven days, there has been not even 10 minutes of sleep for Little Oats during the day. Since she is so energetic, I keep expecting her to conk out around 5pm, but she keeps going, and just gets crankier and crankier. She falls asleep very quickly at bedtime, so I know she’s exhausted.
As I’ve been talking to people, trying to maintain my sanity, here are a few things I’ve been told:
1) It’s just a phase: Many toddlers experience a nap ‘strike’ around age two, but it doesn’t last and they will start napping again soon.
2) Keep the quiet time: Even if she doesn’t sleep, it’s important that I keep going through the naptime routine and making her stay in her room for a rest for at least an hour. This is as much for her sake of routine as it is for my sanity.
4) Explain what happens after nap: One suggestion was to promise a fun activity in the afternoon, but only after a successful nap. This hasn’t seemed to work so far, but I’m willing to give it a try.
As I write, Little Oats is in her bed, chatting about trick or treating. We’ve had a rough morning, so I’m praying that she dozes off, but it certainly doesn’t seem like it. If you dealt with a nap strike, how long did it last? Or am I just kidding myself, and naps are gone for good?