Where Have All the Naptimes Gone?

Audrey and Zachary

In the weeks since my son arrived on the scene, many terrible events have taken place within the confines of my normally peaceful abode.  Awful stuff.  Horrible things!  But none have been as bloodcurdlingly life shortening as my 2-year-old daughter’s recent decision to stop taking naps.

This is because those of us that are parents realize one ultimate truth:  naptimes are like precious mana hand-delivered by the gods themselves to us, lowly peasants that we are.  They are precious.  They are joy.  They are what we need to survive.

We also realize another, equally important truth:  when our kids don’t take naps, all hell breaks loose.  And trust me friends, it is getting mighty hot at home these days.

It started late last week.  I was doing my normal putting-Audrey-to-bed routine.  This typically involves about 20 minutes of reading, maybe a minute or so of precious father-daughter Snuggle Time–adorable!–and then another minute for tucking in, and perhaps a rendition of “Moon River”.  For years this strategy has worked to perfection.  I was a master at it.  Undefeated.  But last week Audrey tried something new:

“One more book.”

“One more?” I asked.

“Yes.”

So, okay.  I read her another book.  A short one because, you know, it was time for her to nap.

“One more,” she said.

“Another one?”

“One more book.”

“Don’t you wanna take a nap?”

“Not yet.”

Hmm.  Troubling and unusual, but sure.  One more book.  An even shorter one because, you know, it was time for her to nap.

“One more,” she said again, digging her rear into my lap as if to say I’m not going anywhere.

“Why don’t you take a nap, okay?  You really need your rest.”

“Not yet.”

“Not yet?”

“Not yet.”  Those two words have haunted me a great deal over the past week.  Every time I try to put her to sleep she delays me with them.  Over and over and over.  I could read her every book she owns three times over and she’d still say them.  Anything to put off nap time.

It’s been driving me crazy too.  Naptime is the vital two to three hour time period each day where I, the resident parent here, can:

  • Get some writing done
  • Ride the exercise bike
  • Relax with a good book
  • Catch up on some household chores
  • Work in the garden
  • And maybe practice my Klingon

In other words, it’s precious to me.

It’s also precious to Audrey.  When she goes without a nap–as she has been lately–she turns into a monster.  A tiny, pig-tailed, ear-splitting swamp beast that tramples everything in her path and renders all that is good and wholesome in the world bankrupt.  I’ve had toys thrown at me.  My skin has been raked by tiny fingernails.  Books have been smashed on the floor.  All because she’s tired.

Unfortunately she doesn’t realize that there’s a connection between the lack of napping and her unpleasant behavior.  And when she’s acting this way, she’s not exactly inclined to listen to reason either.  She won’t bargain with me, she screams “NO!” at everything I say, and much, much more.  So I sit nearby in hopeful silence, waiting for her to come out of it.  It’s the only thing that works.  She only calms down on her own.

So what’s the cause then?  Why has she stopped napping?

Well, as you might have guessed, it all comes back to my newborn, Zachary.  She’s been very jealous of the personal time she’s lost with my wife since he came home.  I’ve worked hard to spend as much time with her as possible to compensate, but it doesn’t make a difference.

She wants her momma.  She wants her because Zachary gets her.

None of this is shocking, of course, and we figured she was unhappy about something along these lines.  But how does this translate to napping?  I got the answer yesterday:  “Why don’t you want to lie down in your bed?” I asked.

“I want to…”  She paused, as if she was unsure if she should continue.  “I want to sleep in momma and daddy’s room.”

BINGO.  There it was.  That was what I was waiting for.  That was the answer.

Zachary has been sleeping in our room since he came home.  This is for two reasons:  It’s easier for my wife to deal with his nighttime feedings if he’s next to our bed, and we only have two bedrooms total (and he’s not nearly ready to move in with Audrey).  So he sleeps in our room for the time being, and she’s jealous of that.

So what to do?  Frankly, we’re not sure.  But we have some options to try out post haste:

  1. Figure out ways for my wife to spend more time with her:  Easier said than done, but one way we can do this is to have my wife be the one that reads naptime books to her.  Of course, that’s dependent on Zachary’s eating schedule, which isn’t exactly predictable.
  2. Get back on a routine:  Ever since the boy came home our daily routine has eroded, especially as it pertains to our waking time.  Our lack of sleep has led to our sleeping later, which then leaves Audrey with less time before her nap.  Not exactly conducive to productive daytime napping.
  3. Exhaust the crap out of her:  We’ve also been slacking in regards to her physical exertion, once again thanks to our general state of sleeplessness.  The way we see it, if we wipe her out a bit more in the mornings, no amount of jealousy will keep her from lying down for a nap.

Or so we hope.  And really, that’s about all we have right now.

Eventually I’m sure Audrey will come out of it, go back to napping, and return to the mostly cheerful daughter we’ve been raising for almost three years.  I’ll get my personal time back too.  But it’s clear we won’t get there without hard work and persistence.

Two things that–thanks to the arrival of our second child–are in short supply.

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