Simon has always been a child who thrived on lots of sleep. With enough consistent routine and patience from Jeramy and I, regular naps have been taken since he was still a baby. We transitioned easily when he was about a year and a half from two daily naps to one, at which point he began sleeping between 2-3 hours in the middle of the day, giving me a break, and giving his mood and energy a refresh.
Over the past couple of months however, naptime has become a struggle. Simon spends his time in bed playing and singing, rather than sleeping. This is fine, because just spending dedicated time in bed without external stimuli seems to help him through the day. However, the roughest part is getting him to agree to this time, and to settle down.
Even if I give him warnings that naptime is imminent, he still panics and acts out when I announce that it is time. I have tried putting a CD player in his room, and playing a special lullaby CD during this time, which seems to help some, but not totally, to relax him. I have tried making the pre-nap transition a special storytime, reading aloud with him on my lap in his rocking chair and dim light. Again, this helps sometimes, but not always.
I have had some people suggest to me that he is too old to be napping anyway, so I should just give up trying. Honestly, I am ok with him not sleeping, but I do insist that he have special quiet time in his bed. As his mother, I witness what happens if we skip this, and it makes for a grouchy, defiant, and emotionally overwhelmed child in the afternoon and evening. It isn’t good for his Daddy and I, and it definitely is not good for him to spend half of his day like that.
So, I have been giving this situation some thought over the last few weeks, searching for a solution that works for us. I am currently tossing around two ideas in my mind. One is to make quiet time the only TV time of the day. When he hits his afternoon energy lull, I could let him pick a short movie or an episode of Sesame Street and have him veg out on the couch for a little while. This option might work, but I am hesitant to use screen time as a relaxation tool. The option I am more inclined toward, but which will take more effort on my part, is to finally make him a quiet book.
Have you heard of quiet books? They are special books, usually fabric, and usually handmade, that a child can look at and interact with during times when they need to be calm. Some people bring them on airplane trips, or to church for a child who must remain seated with the parents. Most though, seem to use them for children who are transitioning away from napping. Over the last several months I have been saving quiet book inspiration ideas here, on a pinterest board. Perhaps it is about time I turn that inspiration into action?
If any of you have gone through this difficult age or naptime struggle, I would love to hear from you on what you tried and what might work. I want to provide Simon with a chance to rest during the day, but we both can’t handle the tantrum and struggle anymore.