i need a nap

August 22, 2008

Diego and I have been duking it out over his nap time. He thinks he doesn’t need one. I know better. Our routine right now is that we come home from day care at noon, we eat lunch, and Carlos goes back to work. Ideally, the boys would snooze from 1 to 3, or even 2 to 4, so I could rest too or get some work done. There have been times when Diego even sleeps three or four hours, because he really, really needs his afternoon nap.

But the last couple of weeks I have struggled to get him to rest. We did it to ourselves, though. For too long after we had Rafael, Carlos and I relied on a quick drive in the minivan to get Diego asleep. Diego’s over-tired? Let’s go for a quick drive. This technique back-fired on me, though, when I was home with both boys the last several months. It got too hard for me to take both sleeping kids from the car and into the house, and pray they both stayed asleep. What Diego started doing was waking up as soon as I’d put him on the bed. So I’d have wasted time driving around, and carrying them in two trips into the house, just to have to entertain them again.

I’ve tried putting videos in. I tried to reason with him that he will be so much happier, and play so much nicer, if he just rests. A few times (seriously, like maybe three times) he took his blankets and crawled into our bed on his own, and took a nap. Once I think he lay down on the floor of our bedroom and fell asleep right there. But most times I’m fighting with him that “You Need To Sleep!” and I’m taking him on several trips back into bed. When he refuses, I try to ignore him for however long it would take him to nap.

Yesterday it all came to a head. He’d been nice and quiet in our room (because he doesn’t like to nap in his own bed), and came out a while later. I knew he hadn’t slept, though, and walked him back in. And all over my comforter were his trademark swirls and lines, done in black ink. GRRRRRR!!!

So Carlos and I decided that I will encourage him to sleep, but if he doesn’t want to, I’ll just play nice and not guilt-trip him about how mommy is tried too and needs to rest too. And if he doesn’t sleep on his own before 3 p.m., he’s not to have a nap at all. Yesterday, after I rushed to the dry cleaners to see if they could get the ink marks off, Diego started asking for his “blankies.” I had confiscated them and put them on top of the fridge as punishment for doodling on the bed. He said sorry and I felt bad for the kid, so I gave them back. He walked to the couch and started closing his eyes. It was 4:30 p.m.

“Oh, no you don’t,” I said. I handed him a book. “Here, read instead.”

I felt ridiculous forcing him to stay awake when he clearly was falling asleep before our eyes. But the other day he’d napped from 4 to almost 6:30 p.m. and it totally threw off our night routine. We’re pretty good about getting Diego to sleep by 8 p.m. (after stories it’s probably a bit later, but this is our quiet down time). And the late nap days are rough, because then we’re pushing everything else back one hour.

I feel like there’s a no win situation here. If he doesn’t nap early, I have to keep playing and maybe even walk to the park to try and wear him out. If he sleeps in the stroller on the walk back but then wakes when we get home (which has happened often) I have to keep going with the entertainment. If he waits until way too late to nap, we either work to keep him awake, or work to get him to sleep that night.

In my ideal toddler world, Diego takes his blankies and stuffed tiger right after lunch, walks into mommy’s room and crawls into bed, snoozing for the two hours he desperately needs. This kid isn’t even 3 yet. I refuse to believe he doesn’t need a nap anymore. What 2 1/2 year old kid can go 14 hours without resting? Oh, that’s right. Mine.

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