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The Toddler Milestone I'm Dreading

It's a Saturday afternoon and I am completely drained. I have spent the better part of my morning chasing after my toddler. We just finished painting, baking cupcakes, putting on snow gear and going for a walk. We even busted out the Play-Doh.

So, yeah, I've been looking forward to her nap all day. Because this mommy needs her "me time," and I kind of count on naps to provide that.

But less than an hour after putting her down, just as I've finished the dishes and the laundry and have curled up in my bed to catch up on my DVR, my little girl is opening my door with a wide grin on her face as she announces, "Nap all done, Mommy!"

Sure, she's adorable as she says it. But I still want to cry a little at her early appearance.

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This has been happening for a while now. Slowly but surely, my 3-year-old has been self-reducing her nap times to the point where I'm pretty sure we have maybe another six months left before naps are simply a thing of the past.

And I'm dreading it.

She's never been the greatest napper to begin with. She is an incredible sleeper at night and has always seemed to prefer that big chunk of sleep to the shorter daytime catch-up. The most I've ever really been able to count on her for is two hours.

But those were my two hours. And I loved them.

I don't mean to sound ungrateful. I get how lucky I am to have a kid who can be counted on for a solid 12 hours every night. And I love my daughter. I love spending time with her. I love playing with her.

I just … I love nap time, too.

If this mommy can't count on naps in the months to come, I'm not going to feel bad about putting my kiddo in front of a screen for a few hours.

I was talking to a stay-at-home mom friend of mine about this recently, and she is experiencing the same thing with her son. He's probably ready to be done with naps. She's not. And so, she continues to enforce it, day after day, even as he resists a little more each week that goes by.

We need that nap time. We might not use it for anything more than to catch up on "The Bachelor," to call a friend or to get some work done … but we need it.

So, I've been devising plans for how to hang onto that nap for just a little longer. Unfortunately, all of them are a bit ridiculous upon further inspection. For example, my plan to get her up at 6 a.m. every morning? That just sounds stupid when I say it out loud. Or my plan to really run her hard in the mornings and wear her out? Um, I kind of feel like I'm already doing that. And what exactly happens to me if I work even harder to wear her out?

I obviously can't dope her up on cough medicine or hit her over the head just before nap time (Child Protective Services looks down on these things, and I really am a loving mother who would never do either). And I can't turn her back around to bed when she gets up after just an hour, because she's wide awake by then and there is no going back to sleep for her.

No matter how I look at it, I'm pretty sure nap time is on the way out in our household. And I don't think there's a whole lot I can do to stop that. My kid is getting older, and there are a lot of things I love about that fact. She can open the refrigerator and pour her own milk now, for instance, and she is finally getting on and off the potty all by herself—no more relying on me to lift her up and down. She wipes, flushes and washes her hands when she's done, and she is fully capable of dressing and undressing herself these days as well.

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My little girl is growing up. And the end to nap time is inevitable.

So in preparation, I've been beefing up our kid movie supply. Because if this mommy can't count on naps in the months to come, I'm not going to feel bad about putting my kiddo in front of a screen for a few hours in an effort to cling to that downtime I so desperately need.

We'll still paint and bake and go on walks, but I'm going to get my two hours of peace a day one way or another.

Because I need that time.

And heck, if she doesn't want the nap, I'll take it.

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Image via Twenty20

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