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Why Won't My Child Nap Alone?!

Photograph by Twenty20

Something happens between two and three years of age where my children decide they no longer need their mid-day nap. Long are the days of yesteryear when my happy toddlers would ask to go "night night" before willingly climbing into their beds and drifting off into a peaceful slumber. No fight. No argument. Now? They’ve transformed into little hellions refusing to step foot into their rooms, let alone climb into their beds. That is, unless they have Mom or Dad nap alongside them.

Every day when nap time is upon us, I find myself engaged in a relentless struggle as my children boycott the act of resting in their beds long enough to get the shut-eye they so desperately need. A few minutes after closing their door, they escape and I return them to their rooms again, and again, and again, until I finally give in. If I don’t, I’m left entertaining this back and forth for the entirety of the afternoon.

When I’m lacking the time and energy to spend hours trying to convince them to take a nap, I do what I have to do—and I join them. Within minutes of my participation, they doze off to sleep and although the battle would appear to be over, it has only just begun.

What happens after their bodies finally give in to exhaustion? I'm trapped.

I'm literally a prisoner until they reach a deep enough sleep. Only then, do I have a small window of opportunity where the noise from my escape attempt won't wake them. One time, I jumped the gun and the sound from my joints cracking as I maneuvered out from under the covers startled one of them awake and that micro sleep ruined any chance of a decent nap after that.

When you're attempting to escape the confines of a bed with a sleeping toddler, your bed always produces the loudest creaks known to mankind. That, combined with an unfailing sudden urge to sneeze or cough, risk everything you've worked so hard for up until that point

The distance from the bed to the door never appeared so far away as you become a ninja performing the most ridiculous yoga moves while utilizing muscles you didn't even know existed. You will do almost anything just to clear the danger zone.

You're probably thinking of different solutions to my problem. Before you expend too much more energy, yes, I've tried it all. How do you think I've got to this point?

What happens when your futile attempt is noticed by a not-so-sleeping tiny tot and their eyes open only to burn holes into your soul? You give yourself whiplash as you slam your head back down on that bed and pretend to be asleep while you pray to the good Lord above that your little one drifts back off to sleep.

This past weekend, I was caught in this trap. For a good 10 minutes, my lower half dangled off the bed while my upper half played dead. Thankfully, my efforts paid off as he fell back asleep, but that was the most intense game of freeze tag I’ve ever played.

There are some days where I don't mind as it gives me a welcomed excuse to shut my eyes and rest because I feel like I haven’t slept in years. If I’m unable to catch a snooze, I’ve found ways to be productive in the event I'm really stuck. I can pay bills, make shopping lists, research the next family vacay, look up recipes, text people I’ve accidentally been ignoring or waste some good ol’ fashioned time on social media.

You're probably thinking of different solutions to my problem. Before you expend too much more energy, yes, I've tried it all. How do you think I've got to this point?

I've done that whole "time to wake" alarm clock instructing my little one to wait until it lights up green to come out. That was a joke. I let him bring his favorite toys to accompany him in hopes they'll be an adequate substitute for me. Close, but no cigar. I'm guilty of even promising bribes upon wake up—whether that be paid out in sugar or toy form. This sometimes works, but rarely.

Someone once offered the advice of putting a baby gate up to block his escape because it worked wonders for her. While I nodded graciously, I couldn't help but to envision my son screaming and yelling for me relentlessly for me to come get him because he was trapped in his room. What's next? Locking the door behind me as I walk out?

For now, I'll take it as the biggest compliment that they just wants their mom and can't bear to be apart from me. I mean, I can't blame them. Until then, everyday around noon, you can find me performing as an escape artist as I wiggle free from the confines of a bed with a sleeping toddler in it because he needs his sleep. I need him to sleep. And maybe I'll catch a few zzz’s in the process.

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