The nap jerk: The non-sleeping toddler

Parenting and life

Around nine months ago, so my blog (which I had just started) reminds me, my son had yet to sleep through the night.

He first achieved it around three months later, aged about nine months; I’ve never blogged excessively about this momentous occasion because I didn’t want to jinx it.

Don’t get me wrong, a good night’s sleep in this house is by no means a forgone conclusion and he has yet to discover the joys of the morning lie-in; he is a perpetual, irritatingly early riser and often midnight bed invader. HOWEVER I am certainly not complaining (today); I know it could be a lot worse.

But when it comes to the process of actually getting to sleep in the day… Well, I often say it’s a good job he is cute because if he wasn’t, I’d probably leave him in a ditch or something*.

why does my son not nap

His big sister used to nap with gusto; once she was six months or so at least.

Pop her in the cot with a kiss, and after a small grumble off she’d go for a few hours, during which I would waste time watching TV or if I was feeling decadent, go and take a nap myself. When she stopped napping, I was bereft.

Not so for Whingelet number two. Those early fights to get him down for a daytime sleep when he was a newborn, which I was promised would soon be a thing of the past, are not; if anything, he’s worse. When he stops requiring a nap, I will actually be very pleased indeed. Not because I don’t enjoy the ‘me time’ (what the hell is that anyway? Time to clean?) but because it’s just bloody exhausting.

He’s a complete nap jerk.

When we are in the house, he might take a nap of around an hour to an hour-and-a-half which is the ultimate dream. To achieve this requires identifying the four minute window between ‘not tired enough, will just whinge and piss around’ and ‘way too overtired, will scream until your eyes bleed‘. I think I have hit this window about six times in the fifteen months he’s been with us.

why won't my toddler nap

Sadly even when well timed, getting him to take a nap requires sitting right by his bed for between ten minutes (best case scenario) and however long it takes; so much as a movement before he is 100% soundo and he will scream so loudly, and for so long, you will basically wish you were dead.

Meanwhile, the big one will be colouring the table/making cakes out of Oxo cubes/writing on the kitchen floor with a banana**. She’s very well behaved, but she is a toddler.

My view…

The nap must not take place too early.

Even if he’s been up since 5 it has to wait until at least 10 or he’ll be awake by mid-morning and then spend the entire afternoon in ultra-whinge mode, doing a very fetching impression of a wasp in a jar. ALL DAY.

(Told you. Uncanny. ALL DAY.)

He cannot have a second nap.

If he shuts his eyes for upwards of three seconds at any point after 3pm, we are screwed. No sleep til midnight. Or at least 8-9pm which is quite frankly too late when you have to tidy up, eat dinner, have a glass of wine whilst watching crap on TV, waste time on Facebook and get up to do it all again at 5.30am the next day.

Car naps are perilous.

 On days when we are out and about, he will sleep in the car, for the length of the car journey and no longer. As soon as the car stops, even if the engine is still running, he will wake up. He doesn’t transfer to a buggy/bed/sofa/whatever.

Unless it’s a particularly long journey, he will still be ridiculously eye-rubbingly tired. This will, of course, mean he will usually fall asleep again on the way home whether we want him to or not (we do not). So unless I happen to be doing well timed, two-hour, one-way trips in the car, I pay for it later.

Buggy naps are rare.

why does my son not nap

He has taken about seven of these since his newborn days. Same rules as the car apply; no stopping, will usually only occur at extremely inconvenient times.

Yesterday he had less than 15 minutes of naps in total.

Even lying down next to him and closing my eyes (he was up all night, I’m tired OK?) resulted, not in a snoozing toddler, but in a dummy shoved in my mouth and a cuddly dinosaur stuck on my face. I even got a goodnight kiss. Cute? Might be if he hadn’t been up all bloody night, sleeping only occasionally and with his feet on my face (I blame teeth. Again) and I wasn’t actually hoping for a nap myself.

It didn’t happen.

To be honest, I’m really not sure where I’m going with this one.

I guess it’s really written out of pure exasperation and frustration. Maybe I want to be reassured that he won’t be like this until he’s in his teens. I know that notion is patently ridiculous (right??) but right now, too scared to make a move, in my 43rd minute of sitting and waiting for him to drop off, I do find myself wondering if I will ever be able to give him a kiss goodnight and make my way out of the room for a pee without being screamed at.

In the meantime… Thank god for smartphones and wifi.

why won't my toddler nap

*I obviously wouldn’t, because that’s not cool, and it’s a bit weird that I feel the need to clarify that but it does seem that some people on the internet these days have no sense of humour at all. Sucks to be you.

**All things that have happened in the last few weeks.

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