Updated: Nov 8, 2019
As I write this, my lovely wee daughter is presently in the process of changing her nap time, and like many a Mum , Im wary. Can you say over tired, grumpy toddler? These transitions are hard , on everyone. I know many a Mum who was well past wary and more in to terrified of the phase as everyone loses sleep over it. They are scared to change the routine that is working just fine, why do we have to move it ? But as I have said in past blogs we need to be fluid. And its sods law that you just get the hang of one phase and into your groove and they ( your child ) move the goal post and change the game... !
I have found that there is a two pronged sense of foreboding when they change a nap time, one is selfish and the other is adjustment. When they were little and sleeping all over the place, it was great when they sorted themselves out in to some sort of pattern. You could have free time and playdates scheduled loosely . You knew when and where you were each day and then presto like in our house, she no longer wants her afternoon nap and wham you are filled with panic that there goes your afternoon cuppa !
That's the selfish part (and it's not a bad thing Mummies ) we lose break time, free time, sit on arse time and or do laundry or something I should really be doing time. We need this time! It is a time for both Mother and child to rest and recuperate and recharge. Nap time is our time too! We count down to it sometimes, live for it , need it and make plans in it.... And thats ok. There I have said it ! It's ok to feel a sense of dread when your ME time goes. But panic not, as just like everything else in your world , you will take it in your stride and , adjust with your child and rearrange things and off you go again in a nice wee routine to your day again. Kettle on.
I panicked, I got annoyed , then remembered that this is standard operating procedure and realigned our day. She now goes down later, so able to do all our classes and get home for a snack and a sleep. Previously she was sleeping mid morning at different times due to different class and group times. She eats more and has more energy and is growing up fast, so we have now ( and need ) more time to get outside and out and about to run off this abundance of stamina , rather than being dictated by her nap in the middle of the morning. Larger slots of time are open for things. She takes a longer nap , she was doing 45 mins to an hour and a half in the morning and 45 mins in the afternoon. Now moving to 2 hours and counting. Smack bang in the middle of the day , as she incorporates and amalgamates the sleeps together. Our afternoons no longer punctuated with a nap so can have a good chuck of time together. She is going to bed that wee bit earlier at night as she needs it. So we get our nights back to actually watch something before falling in to bed ourselves.
The adjustment part is it is not us in charge. We need to remember we aren't calling the shots and we need to accommodate their changing schedules, and for us fall in to line. It is a natural progression of their lives and sleeping patterns. Your children are leading the way and they don't even know it. Some hard and fast things I have noticed is, if they don't want to sleep, they won't , little feckers. So instead of knocking your head against the proverbial brick wall, see what they are doing. If they are moving away from settling down at the time you were used to , move their sleep time to when they are showing you signs they want it. Just like P's and Q's blog when they first moved in to having uniform sleep times as a baby, see the new pattern emerging in their day. It will and can take days or weeks to find the new groove and few bumps along the way . See over tired toddler comment above ! They don't know why they are tired or why they don't want to sleep now but later. They just feel it and its up to us to recognise it.
It helps to wear them out. Ive found changing up a playgroup for my wee one has been beneficial as she moves to tearing around the place and getting her actively playing with things and others. It stimulates her so much more than they quieter sit on floor group we used to attend. The music class I moved in to , is now more interactive and raucous , which is great. So move up a class and / or over to another day to help to keep up with them and exhaust them. So they want to sleep.
I still keep to my experience of creating a sleeping environment. Signifiers for them to recognise. A darkened room, sleep accompaniments such as a comforter, dummy, favourite toy blankets etc, so they will sleep anywhere and everywhere you find yourself. There is a school of thinking that a child needs a dark / blacked out room to achieve the level of rest and replenish the chemicals in the brain ( Melatonin ) that help with filing away all the experiences of the day thus far. I do agree , we as humans sleep better in the dark. But that is not always achievable , if you are out in the car and or in the buggy or somewhere different from home. This can lead to trouble, as expectations of the child and what they need to sleep is not met, as in it's not dark enough therefore Im not sleeping. So I err on the side of having your child rest during the day and sleep during the night. I prefer a darkened room for days and a dark room for nights.
Don't get sucked in to , 'just because they are dropping a sleep they don't need as much sleep'. Especially during the day. Its just a different period of sleep needed. I have supplied a diagram
Of what sleep each age group needs and when.
This is just an idea. Each child is different and will act accordingly. We all know the benefits sleep ( and reminisce about when we used to get them ) How it helps children to process their day so far and boost energy levels that have been depleted. That they sleep better fed and watered and at their right time.
The other one to not get sucked in to is, that you can get them to drop a sleep, that old chestnut. Cutting a sleep will never get them to stay in bed longer at night / early morning. .... I have found it doesn't work. You just end up with an overtired really whingy whiny child who doesn't know which way is up. They know their rhythms and sometimes that is, they are a morning (early morning) person and you are not. So making them over tired during the day and literally falling in to bed at night , does not actually do any one any good. They still wake up early without enough sleep from the day before exhausted. And as you as a parent know , you can never catch up on sleep , not matter what. So don't deny your child theirs for yours please.
As your child gets older they will not want to sleep , in their beds or drop napping all together. Thats fine. No amount of coddling will get them to change that. But it doesn't mean that they are fine to go through the day without a rest and or that you lose your time. I used to pop my wee ones in their rooms for a quiet time. Be it 45 mins of reading books, or listening to a story or getting lost in their own imagination play. A movie or show thats a certain time length, they understand they need to sit still on couch in a blanket and relax. Read books either with them or give them a huge pile and let them work their way through it. You will have probably read the stories to them so much , they are listening to your voice in their heads as they turn the pages. Lost in the story and world your words created. Creating time for both of you to switch off.
Moving to the next stage, in all facets of your child's life can be scary as it's entering the unknown and out of your comfort zone, not theirs as they are being compelled to do it. Like sitting to crawling to standing to walking, they feel they have to move on... So we must breathe, adjust and relax. Our cuppa time will be a wee bit earlier or later but everyone will get their down time sometime. I promise