And yet, since my middle child (typically a good napper) turned four a few months ago, he hasn't been interested in napping anymore. So that leaves only our two-and-a-half year old. For the past month, getting him to take a nap has been harder and harder. He either isn't sleepy, or he's too playful to lay down long enough to settle down. In order to get him to nap, I always have to lay down next to him, read him some books, and stay next to him until he fell asleep. Since he wasn't going right to sleep, I ended up getting grouchy, since I felt like I was wasting a lot of time that could be spent doing other things.
In an effort to not be a crabby mom, I decided to try giving up the afternoon nap. That's always an interesting transition, because he still could use the rest. Around 3:30pm, he hits the wall. I know if I took him up, he would go to sleep. But then he would sleep until 5 and not be ready for bed a few hours later. So we've been trying to push through that intensely crabby time and find the perfect bedtime. My husband and I discovered that anywhere from 8-8:30 is too late; 7 seems a little early. Tonight, he was in bed by 7:30 and despite a few melt-downs with brushing his teeth, that seemed to be about right.
Some other things we're trying in the absence of naptime:
- Quiet time, where everyone gets a little pillow and blanket and lays down quietly to look at books in the living room. In a perfect world, this would happen exactly as pictured for exactly as long as I've determined (an hour would be ideal, but I'd settle for 30 minutes). But, in real life, this, too, is a struggle. Here's why: I need to keep the boys together in one room if I want to lay down for a few minutes. Otherwise, they get into too much mischief. But, while one boy might be able to lay down quietly on his own, with brothers around, they too easily give into the temptation to play, giggle, wrestle...anything but lay quietly without a peep.
- A video. I'm not crazy about letting them watch a video, but on a day where I am extra tired like today (3rd trimester, and not sleeping the past few days), I need to know they would: 1) not be getting into mischief, 2) they would be staying in the house, and 3) they would be quiet. The only way I can guarantee these three outcomes being met at one time is to let them watch one of their movies.
- Going on an outing in the afternoon to help keep them occupied during the hours that would otherwise be spent taking a nap. The other day, we went to the children's section of the library, and it gave us all something productive to do for an hour or so. There's also walks to the park, or just walks in general.
- During that crabby, overtired, melt-down time (anywhere from 3:30-4:30...and on!), I've been trying to sit down with them and read to them. It's great that the library's summer reading program is going on now, so they're excited to sit with me as I read a stack of books to them. Some days we take a blanket and sit outside under a shade tree in the yard. It gives us all some down-time and gives them some mommy-attention to ward the crabbies away.