The Emotional Roller Coaster of the Non-Napping Toddler

So during naptime today, I sat down to write my monthly blog post (six days late, but who’s counting…). I had about a half of a solid article written, but was having trouble focusing. Why? Because upstairs all I hear is my 2-year-old son talking to himself, not napping, and repeating the mantra “don’t want to close my eyes, keep my eyes open.”

We’re at an age now where my kid (usually) loves to sleep, but let me backtrack a little.  He was up at least once a night until he was 16-months-old, so I’ve put in the nighttime hours, blood shot eyes, and IVs of coffee. But now, unlike some of his same aged buddies, he loves his bedtime routine, easily sleeps until 6:45 every morning and 97% of the time will nap for at least 2 hours, with no real fight. So complaining about him sleeping is somewhat comical compared to some of the horror stories I hear from other mamas.

However, the last two nights he has had the hardest time falling asleep, making him a total bear the next day. And with him deciding he doesn’t want to nap today, I find myself going through the emotional roller coaster of so many mamas before me.

Phase 1: This Cannot Be Happening. Aka,Total Denial.

Call it a mama intuition, but those first few minutes of nap have all of the tell tale signs of whether the rest of the day is going to be good one or not. For us and our routine, if I have to go back into my son’s room even once after I’ve put him down, the odds drop to about 50% that he’s going to successfully nap. So, needless to say, when I hear that chattering, or see the “yoga session” that’s happening on the monitor, I immediately start to wonder where it all went wrong.

As a mamma, I need that alone time during nap. I need it bad. As a sudo SAHM, it helps me refocus, relax, and, quite frankly, just rejuvenates me for round 2 of our day, because by the time naptime rolls around, regardless of what our morning has held, I am EXHAUSTED.

And yes, I still give him his alone time up there when he decides not to nap, but let’s be real.. hearing him not nap is on a different continent of relaxation from an actual nap.

Phase 2: Frustration

Losing your cool with your kiddos, regardless of their age, is not a good look on anyone, but being a little upset when something like a nap strike happens is human nature. Personally, I am more irritated when I’m by myself thinking about it, and by the time I actually get upstairs to his room to check on him and see his sweet face, it’s more of a stern “dude you have to nap,” to get my point across. Just sleep! It’s a beautiful, beautiful concept that I promise you are going to miss when it’s no longer offered.

Phase 3: Desperation and Bargaining

Usually around the second time I’ve gone into his room to get him “re-cozy,” I have a strong feeling that the nap isn’t going to happen and I’m willing to try anything. Sometimes it’s an empty promise of going to Target (his favorite place) when he wakes up. And sometimes it’s a bribe that sounds something similar to “after your nap, we can have fruit snacks/an ice cream sandwich/ graham crackers” (you get it, basically whatever his favorite guilty pleasure is that week.) Don’t judge me. You’ve all done it.

This phase also includes texting your mom friends with the obligatory “OMG my child won’t nap today” message and feeling a little relief when they’re willing to down in your sorrows, also.

Phase 4: Acceptance

I get to a certain point during the” should be nap” where I just accept that it’s probably not going to happen. I shake my head, turn the sound off on the monitor, and finish whatever work emails need to be dealt with before it’s back into the trenches.

This phase concludes with making a cup of coffee and making sure I have wine for the night, or just calling a spade a spade and going straight to the wine if we’re past 4pm-ish.

Phase 5: Love

Obviously. No matter how defeated I feel during what should have been nap time, the minute I open my son’s bedroom door and he starts sweet talking about how good he slept (insert eye roll) and how much he missed me, I melt. Because let’s be real, I love spending time with my kiddo. He is turning into a hysterical, smooth talking salesman who tells me he loves me “so so so much” on the regular.

Contrary to what the experts, or the cliquey moms at the library say, our kids skipping a nap here or there isn’t going to ruin their lives or ruin their development. We all have days where our toddler doesn’t nap and all we can do is forge ahead and hope tomorrow our little one makes up for it with the biggest nap ever. Kidding…. kind of. A mamma can dream, right?

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