Posted by: Jamie Stamm | February 3, 2009

Just saying no to naps

11:02 p.m.

That’s when my just-turned-3-year-old finally fell asleep yesterday.

So, you may be wondering, did he have a late night because I let him sleep in Monday morning? Nope. He was up by 7:45 a.m., about 20 minutes before I usually rouse him to take Cera to school.

Did I allow him to load up on sugar and caffeine after dinner? Not a chance. In fact, the only sugar I recall giving him all day came in the form of a little bit of ginger ale.

No, I know exactly why my son was up well past his bedtime.

I let him take an hour-long nap.

Unfortunately, my preschooler hasn’t been taking naps since sometime last fall. At first, I tried staying with Ant for as long as it took for him to fall asleep because, while he didn’t feel the need for a nap, I needed him to take one. Those two hours or so each afternoon were valuable to me. They gave me a chance to log on to the computer and work (or blog) for a while, throw in a load of laundry or catch up on they dishes. But after too many days of waking up after dozing off myself, only to find Ant staring at me with still-wide eyes, I officially surrendered.

If my 2-year-old didn’t want to nap, I wasn’t going to force him to.

Now, I try to work and clean while Ant watches cartoons or plays hockey in the kitchen. Although he sometimes gets tired in the early evening, which can lead to some serious crankiness, the loss of naps hasn’t affected him much. And while I miss the “me” time, I can’t say I miss the daily nap-time struggles.

There is one big problem, though, and that’s when Ant does fall asleep in the afternoon. It is rare, and usually happens in the course of a car ride following a particularly busy morning, but now when Ant drifts off into mid-day slumber, he will be up until all hours.

Like last night.

In my defense, Ant wasn’t himself yesterday. He had tossed and turned his way through Sunday night, thanks to building congestion in his chest that was compromising his normal breathing. His eyes were watering and had that tired look to them that both of my kids develop when they’re getting sick. And he lacked his usual energy. I mean, he stopped playing five minutes into our afternoon hockey match. And this is a kid who could switch from forward to goalie and back to forward all day long.

So when he curled up on the couch with me and fell asleep, I just covered him with an afghan and let him nap. An hour later, I roused him, cranky and still sleepy, but by 9 p.m., he was ready to go. The runny nose and watery eyes were still there, but his pluck was restored. I tried to get him ready for bed by reading him book after book after book, but it wasn’t working. I finally turned off the light around 10 – and watched as Ant laid there beside me, eyes wide open, a tiny victim of insomnia.

All the while, I was bidding farewell to my plans to cuddle up on the couch with my husband and watch a movie – and mentally kicking myself. Because I know better. I could have kept Ant awake for a few more hours in the afternoon and then put him to bed early. But no, I gave in to the nap. And now we both were paying for it.

Today, no matter how tired Ant is after his late-night turn, there will be no nap (for him at least – I sneaked one in while he was at preschool). If that means I’ll have to subject him to loud singing during carpool to keep him awake, so be it.

And from now on, this mom is just saying no to naps. Period.

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