Dropping the Beloved Nap

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Having my kids close together was both a blessing and a curse. I remember thinking while I was pregnant that the only thing I really wanted when my babies were born was that they become great sleepers. I am not the best version of myself when I am running on empty and while I knew that the newborn phase would be filled with sleepless nights, I also just hoped and prayed that once we moved on to the next stage, my kiddos would love to sleep and nap and I would be able to get them on a solid sleep routine. 

Lucky for me, most of that turned out to be true. My son was sleeping through the night by 12 weeks and my daughter followed suit right behind him at 14-15 weeks. I felt extremely fortunate and thanked God over and over again for giving me the one thing I asked for as a new parent. As I slowly got the hang of the parenting gig, I was even able to get my babies to nap at the same time (they are 10 months apart), which was the most beautiful thing! I knew that if I was able to get them both to sleep at the same time, it would give me a break and even more so, get some much-needed rest myself (you know that whole idea of “when the baby sleeps, you sleep” mantra).  

Fast forward to early 2021 and my kids, now three and a half and two and a half, are still taking a lovely, 2 hour-ish nap in the afternoon following lunch. That two-hour window is my saving grace on most weekend days because it allows me to sit down, recharge my batteries, catch a nap or get some things done around the house.  I cherish that time more than I can even explain and usually, my husband and I are counting the minutes until lunchtime is over so we can begin the beloved nap time routine.

However, over the last few weeks, my son has started having sleeping issues.  Waking up in the middle of the night, coming into our room, refusing to go to bed…all the typical toddler sleep issues that parents deal with.  As my husband and I were chatting the other day, we both mentioned the fact that maybe he’s getting “too much” sleep (is that even a thing?) and that it might be time to consider dropping that nap.  But what if he’s ready, but we’re not?

I was not completely ready to give up my cherished two-hour window of kid-free time just yet so I decided to make some compromises to ease the idea of eventually cutting out nap time altogether. My daughter still needs her nap so once I put her down, my son and I started going up to our loft and snuggling on the couch. He would choose his favorite show to watch and almost without fail, he would fall asleep. To me, that said that he still needed that time to rest. But again, bedtime was becoming a huge struggle so we decided to try “quiet time” in his room.  I found that when he didn’t sleep during the day, bedtime was much more pleasant and he was easier to settle during the bedtime routine.  Ultimately, we weren’t ready for him to drop the nap but it was clear that he was and it was time.  

On school days, he still has “rest time” during the day, where he is asked to lay on his cot quietly.  From what the teachers tell me, he doesn’t always sleep but the option is there.  We are entering weekend three of “no naps” and while he has his moments of being ornery (what toddler doesn’t?), he is clearly showing us that he doesn’t require that devoted 2-hour nap any longer. And while both my husband and I may not be prepared to give up our two hours of midday freedom, sometimes the little humans have other plans.  

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