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Long Live Nap Time!

Megan has almost always been a really good napper. She’s a high-energy kid, so the naps area really important for both of us!! Near her fourth birthday she started having a hard time napping. Everybody kept telling me “maybe she doesn’t need naps anymore.” Believe me she DOES! And so do I. The problem seemed to be that she was keeping herself awake by playing around, and I couldn’t convince her to lay down and be quiet. I searched for advice online, but most of it was the same few suggestions:

  • “Just put her in bed, she’ll sleep if she needs to” … yeah, right. With my hyperactive, stubborn kid that didn’t work. If she didn’t nap we all paid the price for it in the evening.
  • “Follow the same routine every day” … done. I’m a very structured person, we’ve followed nearly the same routine since she was a baby… NEXT…
  • “Play some quiet music while she falls asleep” … ok, tried that one. Now she still doesn’t nap AND we can’t get away without playing music for naptime AND bedtime.
  • “Make sure she has plenty of play time” … this girl will go and go and go, it doesn’t matter how much or how little active time she has. When I run her ragged and think “oh, she’s REALLY going to sleep today” she just sits in bed and plays.

None of the advice online worked for us… NONE. We tried everything we could think of. She would often stay nice and quiet for the first half hour or so, then start getting up to play. Then I remembered the story I had once heard about an experiment with mice. The scientists put these mice in water and timed how long it took for them to give up and stop swimming. Then they put the mice in the water again and ‘rescued’ them just before that time. The next time they put them in the water, the mice were able to keep swimming a lot longer than the first time because they had the hope of being rescued. I wondered if this could be adapted to my situation.

So here’s what I did… Without telling Megan any of this, of course, for several days I let her get up after that first half hour when she usually stayed quiet. Oh those were some hard days! When she had successfully stayed quiet for that half hour for a week, I started bumping the time up by five minutes every few days until we were up to a full hour. That’s it! I still have to remind her and reset the time once in a while, but now she sleeps almost every day (except for weekends, when her Daddy’s home and he’s just too irresistible to miss). AND, every once in a while, I can get BOTH kids to sleep AT THE SAME TIME!