When Harrison first tried to drop his nap, at the tender age of 2.5, I was horrified. They were dark days indeed and for months I tried to fight it by putting 100s of miles on our van (and spending way too much money on gas and McDonald’s coffee) because driving was the only trick that worked. Not even the start of preschool in the fall later that year could make him go back to the nap, and by that point I was done dealing with afternoon road trips, so I gave in (up, whatever) and let him be. Awake. All day. Every day. In the three years since, we’ve done our Quiet Time dance and established our Screen Time routine, and we’ve found a way to coexist in semi-restful mid-day peace.
Then, a few months ago, B & I started getting signs that RL’s nap may be on its way out, too. Granted, we at least made it past the three-yr mark with her, and that even included switching her from a crib to a toddler bed with relative ease, but as the spring progressed, there was more evidence of roaming (um, footsteps above my head, for example? bath toys and washcloths moved around/found wet in the upstairs bathroom, for another?) that meant she wasn’t exactly asleep during the whole nap window, even though she’d always be out when I went to get her and Lincoln at 2:30ish.
The other alarming indicator showing up these last few months? Increased shenanigans, meltdowns, and flat-out awfulness at bedtime. Crying, wailing, being led back to her bed umpteen times (by her thankfully very patient, at least most of the time, father who is the King of Bedtime in our house), and pretty much every night for weeks upon weeks, this sight:
That right there is Raegan’s most beloved sleep friend, Cuddle Bear. On the floor of our downstairs hallway, far far away from her and her resisted sleep And even though taking away Cuddle Bear didn’t always work (nor did removing her bear blanket, her owl, her love bug, or her Thomas blanket), it was pretty much all B had for leverage in hopes of keeping her in her bed and from disturbing her exhausted brothers (HD, worn out from years of not napping and early rising, is a safe bet to zonk out, even in the midst of chaos caused by his roommate because by the end of the day he is DONE; Lincoln is trickier because he does – thankfully & don’t ever stop, Sweet Boy – still nap, so if Sister’s up late, he is as well).
With all this craziness and frustration every night, we’ve been talking for a while now about just dropping the dang nap. Part of me hesitated though, because I was thinking about the fall and the beautiful potential of having one kid at school, two napping, and just me+Baby time in the afternoons, so maybe we should just keep napping RL, right? Right?!
Wrong. Today was the end of nap as we know it when I discovered Raegan sitting at the bottom of the stairs, peeking out through a crack between the door and frame, trying to see/hear what her dad and brother and I were all doing/talking about while she was supposed to be snoozing away in her room. Ben wanted to take her back to bed, even though she’d already disturbed Lincoln, but I said let’s just forget it and keep her downstairs. So we did and it totally turned out OK.
Instead of the drama and drawn-out battle that came with trying to force HD to nap years ago, we had a little sit down with her and talked about how she could now stay up during the day for Quiet Time or that we could even make a nest for her downstairs on the days she felt tired. And then we put on our Patient Pants (sorry – this is what I always say to my hubs when we are anticipating a long haul of potential c.r.a.p. due to tiredness or business or illness with the children, however it is one of those things that is easier said than done/remembered in the moment) and she had a lovely time hanging out with her daddy coloring (have I mentioned that he’s the best?) while HD played Kindle and I read (book #41 of the year!).
It was as I was curled up with my book that I realized the true genius of not waiting for fall to do this. Dropping the nap now means I have my No.1 tag team partner to help me out with the transition, which allows me to still rest a bit in the afternoons, and I’m not trying to teach Little Miss how/what to do when she’s no longer napping by myself while also trying to nurse and/or calm and/or sleep a newborn, which would have been the case had we waited until school was back in session.
The bonus bonuses? She made it through the late afternoon (i.e. the witching hours) and supper without (too much) trouble, and went to bed in a much smoother manner than she has in ages. Her sleep friends and blankets are all still in her bed, even! And to top it all off, at supper, she was super proud/excited that she got to “stay downstairs” and is such a big girl, so we’re pretty much all feeling like winners here tonight, and hoping for more peaceful evenings to come!
Seriously. No one breathe a word of any of this to Lincoln.