Currently, I have two sleeping children. That’s right, they are both down for nap at the same time, which is allowing me to actually write this post. If you haven’t figured out yet, I’m a
little LOT excited about that fact. And, I wanted to share my strategy that is currently working (not to jinx it!) just in case there’s another mom out there like me who’s needed something else to try. Now, this post isn’t exactly for the mom who has read the books, followed them exactly, and has had their child sleep-trained since week two. I would have no foot to stand on trying to write a post like that, as that is just not me.
With my oldest, I tried sleep training…the cry it out method, and any other suggestion that was sent my way because I was desperate. He cried it out for far too long, too many days (possible week(s)) in a row). After the many hours of trying to help him get the hang of it I realized it wasn’t for us. It created too much stress in him and me and I accepted the fact that it is not for all babies. What I’ve learned since then is that not everything works for all kids. *Shocker!*;) If I share one piece of advice with soon-to-be or new mamas, it is this: Don’t stress over something that’s not working for you and your baby, even if everyone else around tells you it’s the way to go, because one strategy is not for everyone.
That being said, I wanted to write this post to those moms out there that have a child like my oldest. The type of child who cannot sit still for more than seconds at a time, literally bounces around the house all day long (sometimes off of his sister along with the walls), climbs almost everything and does it successfully,has a brain that runs in overdrive from the second he wakes up to the second before he finally crashes for sleep (and often while sleeping as he sings and tells stories while snoozing), and most importantly to this post, needs (or thinks he needs) little sleep and no naps. Other than the carseat nap…my child has fallen asleep 6 times on his own in his life…that’s almost 4 years. It is so few that I can easily keep track. This just doesn’t happen often…It takes an entire day of Christmas celebration with 5 active cousins and a rambunctious sister to actually put him to sleep.
So, here’s the reason you’re still reading this post. After hours, days, months, even years of figuring out how to get him to fall asleep, the strategy that’s working the best for me right now (at age 3 & 22 months) includes three simple rules and an ending that appeals to him. First, the deal…
Me: “If you can stay awake for three songs (we listen to calm, relaxing music before bed) following my 3 rules, you may rest instead of nap.”
My oldest: “Really!?”
At this point he is super excited, of course, because he loves the idea of rest time. However, this mama does not! We developed a fear of monsters one day, very randomly, and again have tried EVERY strategy known to man to nix the fear, but his brain won’t budge, so rest time (quiet play on his own) does not go well and this mama gets nothing done. Oh, and his little body also still needs a nap, otherwise the grouch monster comes out right before supper sucking everyone into his terrible mood. So, what, you ask, are the three rules? Simple.
Rule #1: Lay still. (as in nothing moving except for maybe a stratch here or there, head on pillow)
Rule #2: Keep eyes closed.
Rule #3: No talking.
The outcome: sleeping child, with hardly any fighting, 9 times out of 10
Now, it’s “Naptime here I come” instead of “I DON’T WANT TO NAP!”
It puts the ball in his court. If he truly can stay away for three whole songs, he gets to rest. However, that has only happened a couple of times, and he’s actually handled it well because his body really did not need the rest and he was a positive, fun-loving kid.
Now, here’s the disclaimer…
Is it a sure-fire way to get your child to nap? No way! We still have our days when he chooses to fight like the dickens to stay awake because heaven forbid you miss out on any minute of a day. However, those days are way fewer and farther between than they once were and my sanity has risen tremendously when nap time rolls around. I’ve started to welcome it…most days;). One more tip for those “not gonna nap” days: if a rule is broken, he has to follow the rules for an extra song. If this is sounding all too real, try it out. I hope you have as much luck as I have.
On a side note, his little sister asks for naps. I even caught her sleeping like this once…
…she’s the child for which more of those books I previously mentioned were written. Each child is different. And, months down the line, this strategy will probably have worn off and I’ll be begging y’all for your success stories. Until then, I hope this helps one mama out there regain a little sanity.;)