There are many things no one tells you about motherhood. You have to experience them for yourself in all their painful glory. I'm not sure whether people keep these warnings to themselves as a polite courtesy or out of fear that we'll run out of our baby showers screaming before the gifts are opened. "I hope you like the diaper cake and by the way in a few months there's a slight chance once you have this baby that you'll pee on yourself when you sneeze for the rest of your life".
The dropped nap is one of motherhood's best kept miserable secrets. There's no way to prepare for the day your child says goodbye to nap time. It's a miserable time. No more watching Maury pantsless while snarfing cocoa puffs. No ma'am. If your girlfriend tells you her kid stopped napping you better pour a little out for your homie because it's a painful time. Luckily for you I've suffered this injustice and have a few survival tactics to share.
Mandatory Quiet Time
I stay at home with a two and a three-year old. My youngest dropped her daily nap before she was two. My son would happily take an hour-long nap every day - but since his sister is up wilding out for twelve to fourteen hours a day he prefers to join in the fun. It makes for an exhausting day for everyone.
A few mom friends told me that they have mandatory quiet time in their homes.
Allow your child to read, play with quiet toys, or color for a half hour or so. Discuss the change with your child and encourage him or her to use the quiet time for any quiet activity of their choosing. Independent play is a good thing and you need to recharge your batteries.
Don't feel guilty about it.
Bump Up Bed Time
Is Junior tearing up the place from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. with no nap in between? Bump up his bed time. My daughter used to fall asleep around 10:00 p.m., wake up at 9:00 a.m., and nap from 1:00 - 3:00. When she decided she was too cool to nap I moved her bed time up by a half hour each week. I'm happy to report that she is fast asleep by 7:30 p.m. most nights and usually sleeps in until 7:30 a.m..
I get a few hours to myself and a nice solid eight hours of sleep. It's pretty amazing. Keeping up with two toddlers all day with no break is tiring but that chunk of alone time I get in the evenings is priceless. I finally know what the Real Housewives of Atlanta are up to again.
Dropping nap time is a big milestone for a child. Your child might adjust easily or the transition could be rough for both of you. Prepare for it and experiment. Find what works for your child. You might have to rearrange your nighttime routine or sleep schedule for a while as you adjust. Don't sweat it.
If quiet time and an earlier bed time aren't working. Consider increasing the amount of physical activity in your child's day. I spend 2 to 3 hours a day outdoors with my kids most days. I noticed that on days when we take a pre dinner bike ride they're ready for bed even earlier.
Switch your routine up. Ride bikes, go for long walks, and see new things. Kids are curious and love exploring. Take advantage, get some fresh air, and tire your kids out in the process. Everyone wins.
How did you cope when your kid said goodbye to nap time?
Veronica Armstrong is a photographer, blogger, and freelance writer whose stories spring from the cinderblock walls of her married graduate student apartment. You can find her on Google+ or see more of her writing and photography on her blog.