How to Survive the End of Naptime

no more nap time

When my son first started missing his naps I became a crazy person. I felt like my insides were being squeezed in a terrible way. I’d freak out, my heart beating faster and faster, eyes looking wildly around for something to save me (chocolate?), while trying desperately to ignore the yells from his bedroom. “Mommy!! I’m not going to nap!! Mommy! I’m not tired! Mommy!! Lionel [his lion] and I are having a party, do you want to join us?” (He was very verbal.) There was also the incessant jumping, crib turned into trampoline, my young child into piston. It all felt  exhausting and dangerous. I was absolutely positive that he would be terrible for the rest of the day, and that I too would be terrible, and both of us feeling terrible would be an even worse combination.

I tell you all this so you know that you are not alone! The end of naptime is very sad.

But you will be ok!  Take a deep breath and try one of these suggestions.

  1. Put in earplugs, lie on the couch and cover your eyes with a towel so it’s really dark, just for a few minutes. This is like rebooting your computer or phone, only it’s you! This will shut your mommy receptors off for something like a power nap without actually sleeping. If you can hear your little one calling out about how he’s not going to nap, your receptors will never get a real rest and you’ll be more agitated than ever. So do what you need to do for a moment of quiet!
  2. Retail therapy. I still have a pair of silver saltwater sandals that I bought for myself on one of my son’s first no-nap days. Thankfully, it was lovely out, so I wore them out of the store and to the park. My cries of frustration were quickly replaced by an “Oh yeah, new shoes!” kind of feeling. Much better!
  3. Go to the park with your no-napper. Being at home is too aggravating, too many reminders that things aren’t as they should be. At the park you might find other mommy friends to commiserate with, or at least be distracted by squirrels or something.
  4. This advice was given to me by the nice mom who sold me the silvery sandals I wrote about above: Long before nap, tell yourself that she is not going to nap, and so that way you can be pleasantly surprised if she does, and not crestfallen if she doesn’t.
  5. Give your child “rest time.” Tell him that he doesn’t need to nap, but he needs to stay in his room with this lovely stack of books or soft quiet toys until you come and get him. In all honesty, this never worked for me, but I have friends who insist that their kids went for it.
  6. Books on tape: another variant on rest time. Let her rest while listening to Leonard Lobel read Frog and Toad.
  7. When all else fails, television, or DVDs, or Netflix, or YouTube. Just this afternoon, my kid devoured an episode (all too short, 22 minutes!) of Magic School Bus while I took my own nap.

This last piece of advice deserves more space than a numbered list allows: If your kiddo is older than three and skipping naps often, stop forcing it. I never thought I would survive the end of naptime, but what was really killing me was trying to get that nap to happen. Finally giving up made our biggest argument of the day disappear. And now while his sister naps in the afternoon, my son and I have our special “solo time,” or he has solo time on The Magic School Bus (Thank you Ms. Frizzle!). An added bonus or saving grace is that at least in the beginning, you’ll find your no-napper will be done for the day incredibly and wonderfully early, like by 7pm, or even 6:30! Then you can really lie back on the couch. Or finish folding laundry with a glass of wine.