Mikah is 3 years 11 months and it’s finally time to admit that she has dropped her daytime sleep. Well, dropping. I really can’t complain, I’ve had a great run with it. She has until recently been happy to go to bed every day and could often snooze for a few hours. It worked perfectly for me given that I also have a two year old so I would put them down at the same time and that’s when I would get my work done. (and my Facebooking).
Recently she stopped napping daily at pre-school and it would become a twice-a-week kind of thing. I wouldn’t even really look at the time sheet at pre-school to see if or for how long she slept, I would know clearly by 5pm. She would be tired and whingey and that part of the day became quite exhausting because I felt like she just couldn’t cope without the sleep. And then almost overnight, she just started coping. We had a period of a couple months where she would be grouchy, not willing to eat and everything I asked of her would turn into negotiating with a little terrorist. Now she is back to her semi chilled out self, and will go to bed and be out like a light in a matter of minutes.
There are some children that flat out refuse to take naps, and there isn’t really much you can do other than insist on some down time. There are also those children that would be awake half the night if they have a sleep, and for those mothers it’s a no brainer – you cut out/down on the midday sleep. But if your pre-schooler is still happy to nap, then go with it! Encourage it! They are still growing and it will help development (and their mood!).
A study was done where they observed pre-schoolers and analysed their memories in the afternoon. Those that took even a really short nap were able to retain more information than those who didn’t. Your child will be able to learn so much more even with just a catnap. So what can you do if your child is refusing a naptime but you still feel they need it? First things first, speak to your day-care teacher about what they can do. Maybe they can move their beds away from their friends, or put them together with those that do sleep. Maybe they may need a little reassurance, a quick pat even. Maybe it’s just as simple as sending a favourite blanky or teddy with in the bag.
You can also modify the naptime routine if you still think your little one needs a rest. The first thing I would change is to limit “screen time” before sleep. The lights from devices like phones and tablets prevent the production of melatonin which encourages sleep. Switch it to after lunch (but not too close to night time!).
Next I would look at your routine, is there one? Are you consistent? Just because they are no longer babies, it doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t still have the same lunch times each day and bed times. Your child needs to know what to expect each day.
If every attempt becomes a fight, then it’s not worth it. Persist for a little while because sometimes it’s just a phase, or a little regression and they will get back onto it. This is a common mistake I see. Mothers think their child is ready to give it up because they have a period of a couple of weeks where they just stop. Persevere! Often it will just go back to how it was and you’ll never know really what happened there.
But assuming it isn’t just a phase, then insist on “quiet time”.
This is where I am at with Mikah at the moment, she knows she doesn’t have to sleep but she does have to go into bed for a little while to rest her tired body. Every few days she will sleep for a little while, but more and more it is more likely that she won’t. I am happy for her to even lie there for about half an hour – 45 minutes and then she can get up and lie on the couch reading books or sitting at her table colouring.
And trust me – I’ll ride this phase for as long as I can!
I dread the time when she thinks she doesn’t even need to rest. Hopefully you will not be seeing any blog about that from me soon!