When I’m being realistic, I have to admit that Lucy has indeed given up her afternoon nap. And I have to tell you, this has been very hard (and it explains our absence from the blog). So on my optimistic days, I imagine she’s just on some kind of extended vacation from naps.
Lucy has gone a couple of weeks now without taking a nap of any kind. She’ll sometimes lie down for about two minutes, but then she starts calling out. We’ve been working on having “Quiet Play Time” instead, but this is a challenge in itself. Right now, Lucy can only manage about 15 minutes of quiet play time, and every time I start to remember her regular two-hour naps, I come to tears.
I went through quite a rough period at the beginning of this phase, despairing of ever getting any alone time again. Naptime has felt like a key, crucial time to my own ability to flourish and have patience as a mother — not to mention getting work-related and household tasks done!
Photo: “Just because I’m wearing jammies does not mean I’ll be sleeping!”
However, I’m starting to see that Lucy has definitely been picking up on my desperate need for alone time. I think it is good for her, probably, to realize that Mama is human and needs a little break. But I also think she was starting to feel threatened by the urgency of the “go away and leave me alone for awhile” message behind my friendly Quiet Play Time words.
There are other factors that are probably adding to her anxiety around naptime and quiet time, too. Rosie has been simultaneously giving up her morning nap, which seems to be a bigger change for Lucy than I had expected. I’ve been delighted by all the things we can do together in the mornings now (zoo! pool! grocery shopping! visiting friends!), but I didn’t anticipate how this would be a loss of “Mama-time” for Lucy — but of course it is! Also, this change has required a very sleepy Rosie to go down first at naptime, which is slightly different from what we’ve been accustomed to.
Another big change: Lucy has been sleeping in a toddler bed. We finally decided that the twin bed we put in Lucy’s room almost a year ago wasn’t really working, considering she has slept in it a grand total of once. One of Lucy’s friends, Simon, has a toddler bed and has been loving it, and after Lucy got to see it and admire it one day, we set out to buy one of our own. We got a cute wooden one off Craigslist, and Lucy has been sleeping in it quite well — at nighttime. But the fact is, she misses her crib. Every once in awhile she’ll ask, “Can I sleep in my crib tonight?” It pulls your heartstrings to hear her grief, but this seems like a good step forward, and she is doing well.
And one last thing: Lucy is also simultaneously (and coincidentally) doing really well with nighttime potty training. She has slept most of this week without a diaper and kept her pajamas dry! And, while this is a very positive thing, it is one more new event that is making for a busy brain on Lucy. (It was entirely her idea this time around.)
I’ve been re-reading all of the helpful comments we received from our nap challenge back in April, and those have been a gift. This does feel different than the April nap issues in that I think Lucy may be developmentally ready to drop her nap at least some of the time. She does not generally exhibit the signs of overtiredness that I’ve seen in the past (night-waking, cranky afternoons). She has napped a couple times in the car with Jon on afternoon outings, and I think she would still benefit from a nap (and so would I), but I don’t think she is necessarily under-rested.
I’ve been trying to organize my thoughts around issues and questions I have:
- Issue #1: Stalling. During naptime attempts and quiet play time, Lucy will often request a potty sit, even if she has just had one. And the thing is, when she is granted one she almost always does actually produce something, so it is hard to just say “no.” But Lucy is picking up on this and sometimes tries to use it to her advantage. Other stalling tactics she has employed: needing a snack, wanting different pajamas, desiring “just one more” story, needing her nose wiped, etc. This has also drifted over into bedtime stalling problems, and we’d like to eliminate this whole problem.
- Issue #2: Hollering. I really need Lucy to be quiet for quiet play time, not only for my benefit, but because Rosie is trying to sleep. There have been days that Lucy’s calling out has cut Rosie’s nap short, and this makes Mama Extremely Grumpy. We purchased a special clock that visually shows how much time is left for quiet play time, and this perhaps helps a little bit, but it’s not a magic bullet. Frankly, I would just let her holler if she were the only one in the house, but she’s not.
- Issue #3: Anxiety. I’m not talking about me right now (although I’ve had a big dose of sleeplessness and anxiety this month). I would like to help Lucy feel more comfortable in her room with her new bed. She clearly misses her crib, but she totally is ready to sleep in her bed, especially with her nighttime potty success. We just rearranged the furniture in there (taking down the twin bed) so that it can be cozier, but I think her space still feels a little foreign. Plus, Mama has had a lot of intense emotions around the whole nap/quiet time process, so we are all on edge.
Here are some of my questions:
- How long can I reasonably expect Lucy to be quiet for quiet play time? I’ve been banking on the assumption that once Lucy was ready to drop her nap, she’d be old enough to play quietly in her room for some time (30 min? 40 min? more?).
- How can I get the break I need, even if Lucy doesn’t nap? (This is a huge worry for me.)
- How can I help Lucy to feel comfortable in her new bed, and in her room? How can we help it to feel like a safe haven for her?
- The afternoons are the worst: Rosie often feels a little needy after her nap, Lucy starts to get hyper, Mama is on edge after wishing in vain for some quiet time, and dinner preparations need to begin. How can we improve these challenging afternoon hours?
I must mention how amazing Jon has been through this process. I’ve been really consumed by this whole dilemma for weeks, trying to figure out ways for sleep or quiet for Lucy, despairing over my own need for a break, and having a few meltdowns. Jon has been super-encouraging and, perhaps best of all, he has been “on call” with Lucy all afternoon over the last couple of weekends. What a gift! I’m also looking forward to Lucy having an afternoon date with Grammie later this week.
But optimist that I am, I’m still hoping against hope that Lucy will end her nap sabbatical soon and miraculously re-join the world of nappers!