When toddlers take napping into their own hands

My son taking a nap looks less like napping and more like whining to get out of his crib. This is not his most flattering face.

Anarchy. Pure chaos. Armageddon. These are all ways to describe what happens when your child decides that they would like to make a slight modification to their napping schedule.

For the last six months, my son has been an exceptionally good sleeper. Credit for this should be given to his mother who has worked tirelessly to keep him on a routine. Wake up between 5 and 6 a.m., first nap around 9 a.m., second nap around 1 p.m. and then bedtime by 7 p.m. Every day followed this very predicable pattern… and it was good.

I subscribe to the theory that if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it. Obviously, Tristan has yet to learn this pearl of wisdom because he decided that it was time for a change.

The real pisser is that he didn’t even consult us first. There was no meeting to discuss a new nap schedule, no email explaining his plan, no graphed out mood projections for me to review before coming to a decision. He just up and changed the game.

For the past few weeks, Tristan has decided that two naps will no longer be necessary and is only napping once a day.  Let me repeat that. My son is now only napping once a day!

As parents, we went though the stages of grief that someone who has just experienced a tragic loss might experience. And why wouldn’t we? We were grieving for the loss of that additional hour of “no Tristan time.”

First was denial. We refused to believe that this was happening. We tried to stick to the proven schedule. We somehow managed to get him to take his first nap but the afternoon nap was just not happening. “It’s just a weird day or two,” my wife and I said to each other.  “This will pass, stick to the schedule.” It did not pass.

The second stage was anger. How dare this baby defy us! Doesn’t he know what is good for him? He can’t make it through the day on just one nap. What are we supposed to do, start getting him ready for bed at 4 in the afternoon? This is outrageous!

The third stage is bargaining. “OK, Tristan, please just nap a little now and then again this afternoon. If you do that I promise that you can have all the cheese and cheerios you want for dinner. Please, just let’s go back to the way things used to be.”

The fourth step is depression. It’s depressing to know that when I get home from work there is a very slim chance that my once happy son will still be in a good mood. He will be tired and hungry, unreasonable and quick to hysterical tantrums. His mother is battling the loss of some of the only free moments she has in the day. Going from two naps to one cuts in half the amount of things she can accomplish. Bills, laundry, projects, research, showers, planning and cooking dinner — you name it, there is less time.

Finally, acceptance. Yeah, nope —  I’m still grieving.

I wish my son would realize the error in his decision to nap less. I wish he could see that while it may seem great to be running around like a crazy toddler all afternoon, it drastically effects his (and our) evenings. I wish I could talk some sense into him, but he just won’t be reasoned with. So the rest of us have to grit our teeth and deal with the repercussions of his actions until he gets a bit older. For the time being, I see a lot of cold dinners and 6 p.m. bedtimes in the future. Wish us luck.

Pat Lemieux

About Pat Lemieux

Pat has it all, family, big old house, dogs, a newborn son and a quarter-life crisis. He blogs about trying to be who he has always been and be who he now needs to be. He enjoys 90's grunge metal, tasty local brews and the outdoors.