How to cope when your toddler drops their nap

Parenting and life

I have been dreading this inevitable turn of events for a long time.

I am of course talking about the death of the nap.

My smallest – now two years and eight months, or 32 months if you’re weird – has decided he is done.

He is dropping the nap like it’s hot.

Over the last few months, daytime naps have been limited to brief periods in the car or buggy with not a single one taken at home in bed. He’s ‘not tired’, even when he really is, and it’s not worth the hassle.

I am trying to console myself with the fact that this gives me an extra 40 minutes or so per day not spent in silence in my son’s room waiting for him to fall asleep, but I can’t deny that I miss the peace and quiet. The coming back downstairs, victorious; the switching on of the kettle for the celebratory tea.

Yes, it’s sad, but what is sadder is the sheer amount of tired whining going on.

How to cope when your toddler drops their nap

Perpetually (too) early to rise, up until Christmas my smallest was still falling asleep on or just after the morning school run.

This had to stop when he started preschool but rather than moving to a slightly later nap, he quit napping in his comfy bed altogether instead snatching small bits of sleep seemingly whenever it’s most inconvenient.

Sometimes after an obnoxiously early wake up, he likes to crash midway though the afternoon or in the middle of eating dinner.

Sometimes he’ll pass out just sitting down in front of the TV; not even the excitement of Paw Patrol can guarantee keep him awake.

As we all know, it is a very bad, bad idea to let toddlers nap late into the afternoon as it generally means that a) they will wake up full of anger (hence it being lovingly referred to as the ‘twatnap’) and b) come bedtime they will be full of energy, and as you try and convince them to go to sleep they will laugh in your face as you watch the small sliver of ‘me time’ disappearing like sand between your fingers.

Dropping the nap - how to survive!

So the best tactic is to keep them awake through any means possible and let them ride crest of the tiredness wave, whining and screaming all the way til bedtime.

This isn’t my first time at the rodeo; two years ago I was mourning the untimely passing of my eldest’s naps.

She was a good napper, unlike the smallest who was a total nap jerk, so it’s perhaps easier to accept this time but this inbetweeny bit, the won’t-nap-but-still-bloody-tired phase, is no fun at all.

But how to cope?

I asked around to see how others dealt with the whole nap-death thing.

Here are some top tips for surviving that period of time when your kid stops napping but is – for want of a better phrase – overtired and annoying.

Turns out my tactics of TV, snacks and hiding in the kitchen aren’t actually unusual.

Bribery and TV is usually the answer. If you don’t have a younger one to watch as well then 1:1 activities and loads of attention usually works. I have a baby though, so CBeebies it is. Sarah, Arthur Wears

TV! We now do iPad time, drawing pictures, playing apps. H stopped napping at 18 months so CBeebies (and Peppa!) became our crash out time with blankets on the sofa. Lynne, New Mummy Blog

They can have their fill of Johnny, Johnny and daddy finger until bath time. And we can hang on to our sanity for another day Kat, Confessions of a Working Mum

Capitulate without a fight and just let them watch Youtube videos on your phone or iPad when they get ratty and irrational. You might call it bad parenting, I call it saving my sanity. Kate, The Mum Conundrum

We have a ‘4pm surprise’ for this very purpose… Usually the time we bring out the dreaded play doh, a toy that’s been out of circulation for a while or a new sticker book, so that her excitement overrides the tiredness! Siobhan, Pass the Wine Please

I normally give a smoothie and a snack to them. And a coffee and some chocolate hiding in the kitchen for myself. Fantasising about all the free time after 6:30pm. Eva, Captain Bobcat

Go and visit Granny. Sorted. Alice, Living with a Jude 

Take them to someone else’s house for a bit, new scenery and in my sons case, different toys to play with. He has his toys spread between our house, Grandmas house and two Great Grandmas houses Jenni, Chilling with Lucas

Naps are very hit and miss in our house at the moment. We tend to opt for quiet reading to pass the time. If my patience is wearing thin we’ll go with an early bath and bed but then I have to keep my fingers crossed we don’t have a 5am wake up the next morning! Becky, Mommy and Rory

Throw them a tablet or distract them with TV. If that doesn’t work… Hide. Take wine and chocolate with you. Donna, The Sleep Thief’s Mummy

Prosecco. Claire, Love Life and Dirty Dishes

Some sterling advice there I’m sure you’ll agree.

Stay strong, parents. This too shall pass.

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It's the day you are dreading! No rest, lots of whining (especially between 3 and 7pm!) How to cope when your toddler stops napping. #parentingadvice #momadvice #toddlers #naps #mumadvice #mumsadvice #parentingtips #momtips #momlife #toddler #realparenting



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