When Jayce was around 5 months or so, we had to do the cry it out thing. It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week for everyone. While we were in the midst of crying it out, I started our blog and wrote my very first post. There wasn’t a lot to it, but if you’re curious, you can find it here. About a month later, with lots of happy success, I wrote an update going into detail about how many days were involved, how soon we saw progress, what his sleeping patterns were at that point, etc. But a few days after I posted it I started feeling guilty.
Did it sound like I was bragging about my kid? Would this post turn off anyone who read it? Was it too detailed and boring? Was it too personal? Was it too specific? Would it aggravate my friends whose kids weren’t sleeping as well as Jayce was then?
I went back and edited that post, removing the details. You know, those detailed, boring, personal, specific, aggravating ones. They could otherwise be known as the interesting, informative, pertinent, helpful ones. That post could now be appropriately entitled, “Here are Pictures of My Kid Smiling in His Crib,” because there is pretty much nothing else there.
Now that I have another child, I wish I could look back on those specific details so that I could compare a bit, remember what worked for Jayce and how long it took to get there. Now that I’ve had this blog for almost 3 years, I have more of a sense of what it means to me and what I want it to be, and one of the things that I want is specific details about my kids and family. In 3 years when I look back at this I don’t want to read, “Jayce has been saying the funniest things,” I want to know what funny things he’s been saying, and so on.
On that note, we have recently had a HUGE success around here with a few little parenting tricks, and I definitely want to remember them in case Hannah starts having nap issues around this time and I am desperate to remember the details of my solution.
The gist of it is, Jayce hasn’t been taking naps. They stopped when Hannah was around a month old. At first he would just skip a nap a few days a week, but recently I’ve been lucky to get 1 nap a week for him.
I thought that I could at least count on him to nap on the days that he had school in the morning, but this isn’t the case. He would come home very tired but still not take a nap. Apparently some kids can stop taking naps around age 3, but Jayce isn’t one of those kids. He gets whiney and uncooperative, or more wound up as the day goes on and becomes almost uncontrollable. I tried to allow “rest time” instead of “nap time,” hoping that if he’d stay in his bed then he would fall asleep. But a few books at rest time turned into emptying his whole bookshelf. Books turned into toys and games, and eventually this time turned into “wreck my room time.”
There were a few instances where Chris laid down with Jayce just to make him stay put and he fell asleep. Also, Chris rocked him to sleep a few times. I don’t mind this on the weekends when we’re both around, but I can’t sign up to do this every day and just leave Hannah for an indefinite amount of time.
Luckily we have a parenting guru in town, she teaches the parenting classes at our church and always encourages everyone to call her if they have any questions. I should have called sooner, but I saved my questions up a bit, and called with a short list of things to do with Hannah and Jayce, and nap time was at the top.
Her name is Jan. Her and her husband have taught the Babywise/Prep for Parenting line of classes for over 20 years at our church. It is so helpful to talk to her because there is rarely a situation that she hasn’t already come across in that time period. She always has a little game plan or list of things that you can implement, and that’s just what I want. Plus she’s great to vent to and always very affirming.
I told her about nap time, briefly. That I couldn’t get him in his bed or to lay down on most days. Sometimes I can’t even get him to stay in his room, and time out/removing toys/spankings weren’t working.
#1. Stop giving him options throughout the day.
Think about your day. For breakfast: Would you like Cherios or Cornflakes? Orange juice or milk? Red cup or blue cup?
So I thought.
Do you want your blue blankie or your rocket blankie? Do you want to walk or ride your bike? Do you want your sandals or your running shoes?
Okay, yes, we give him lots of options.
I was skeptical of this at first and wanted to re-state my question. “Sooo…if I stop giving Jayce options about random things during the day then he will take naps for me?”
She responded that we think we are empowering him by giving him these choices, but a 3 year old already has plenty of decisions to make on any day simply regarding his play. He won’t understand why he has a choice about so many other things throughout the day but not about his nap time.
Regarding him not staying in bed.
#2. Set a timer.
Call it “quiet time” instead of nap or rest time since he already has something negative associated with those.
Tell him that during quiet time he has to lay down in his bed and be very quiet so that he can listen for the timer to go off. When the timer goes off, he can get up.
She also said that the first few times I may want to set it for a shorter amount of time and not count on a nap. This would get him used to the whole timer idea and set him up for success.
To my complete and utter amazement, this has worked like an absolute charm.
After lunchtime, we do just as she suggested and he naps. It has worked for 5 out of 6 days which sure sounds like success to me.
At first I made a big(ish) deal that we weren’t going to have nap time or rest time, but were doing something different that day, quiet time. I explained the rules. I let him help me turn the timer and set it on a shelf, then I walk by and quickly crank it up to 55 minutes or something like that. (I’m pretty sure she did it somewhere outside of the room, but for now it’s still in his room.) At first he started to get up a few times and I quickly reminded him, “Shhhh…you have to be quiet so that you can listen for the timer!! …This isn’t rest time it’s quiet time, so you have to get in your bed. When it goes off you can get up and we’ll play.” Then I leave.
The first day Jayce didn’t sleep, but he did stay in his bed for about 40 minutes which was heavy progress. He got up once for the bathroom and another time for something legitimate. I noticed that he was getting fidgety so I turned the timer so that it would go off, and we went downstairs to play. Every other day since then he has fallen asleep.
Apparently, as I had suspected, he IS still very tired and needs his naps. This is the little trick that gets him to stay in his bed long enough to fall asleep and I’m holding tightly to it.
Also worth mentioning, once he has been quiet for 15-20 minutes I go sneak a peek at him. If he’s sleeping, I sneak in and grab that timer so that it doesn’t go off and wake him up. But one day I forgot about it, it went off in his room, but he didn’t even wake up.
Poor sleepy kid.
Happy happy mom.
Linking to Picture Me Imperfectly.