I don’t know about you, but I might as well be getting paid $1,000 an hour for naptime. That is how much they are worth to me. Sometimes more. And when naps don’t happen or go bad, it feels as though I’ve lost the equivalent of a Fijian vacation. Our houses have never been large and the children’s rooms are always fairly close together, so I’ve learned a few tricks here and there that help naptime go smoothly when there are many variables. I’ve never had my children nap in the same room (on purpose) so I can’t help you there, but I’ve done quite a few things to avoid that actually. Since one child having a meltdown moves quickly to another child with a meltdown I try to make sure both are well rested and, if one wakes early or is sick, I try to keep the other one on a normal routine.
This summer we stayed in Destin for a week at a beach condo and, while the fun times were fun, sleeping was a nightmare. Vacations and trips are fun and exciting and different enough, so add in lack of sleep and a nice time away can quickly turn into “why on earth did we spend this money to come here instead of spending it to send the kids somewhere else.”
If your children nap randomly and are used to getting naps for short periods in the middle of all the action, aka the living room floor while people are walking around, this advice won’t help. This advice is for those whose children nap regularly in their own cribs on their own routine who may be thrown off by change of circumstance and routine.
Let’s get to it.
(1) Noise makers, rainfall sounds or music.
Background noise, for me, is not so much to lull them to sleep as it is to prevent them from hearing their siblings next door from yelling or singing. I have a white noise app on my phone and use an old beat up boom box from the 7th grade. This would work better, is reasonably priced and has songbird sounds. This serves a dual purpose. It’s a sign “time to sleep now, kiddo” and helps keep them asleep and from being jarred by a siblings’ cry or the ringing of an ill-timed telephone call. I don’t recommend drowning out all outside noise, but after a week of both kids waking up early because one was teething, I was done. By a certain age if a toddler wakes up due to noise, you aren’t likely to get him back to sleep. This helps prevent that somewhat.
(2) Separate as far as possible.
Nothing says a child has to nap in their room. A child can nap in a playpen or in the master bedroom if it provides ample separation. I have a friend who always had her youngest child sleep in a playpen in the bathroom with the exhaust fan on until they were around 2ish. With four kids and a smaller house it was the best way to ensure good napping. Now, that is ingenuity people. I’ve been known to let the newborn sleep in the farthest away room so if they needed to cry it out for a minute or two they wouldn’t mess up a 3 hour nap.
(3) Quietly occupy a child that wakes early/doesn’t go to sleep.
I don’t like to encourage waking early with fun activities, mind you, but sometimes the best thing you can do with an early waker is to occupy them. When I am working (I work from home) and one child wakes up, I often put a few toys in the crib until their normal nap time is finished. This lets them know, “You’ve woken early, that’s okay, but you aren’t getting up yet.” This way they don’t roll over and immediately think “Oh, if I make a fuss I’ll get out now.” Regularly doing that will cause them to have shorter and shorter naps.
(4) Teach the child not to scream upon waking.
One great benefit of Babywise (though I’m sure Babywise doesn’t have the monopoly on this) is that fairly soon they wake up from naps cooing and in a great and happy mood. I absolutely love walking into a room to get my baby out of the crib and they are there smiling and laughing at me. At a certain point this happiness can turn into “get me out of this crib now.” My daughter would call for me and scream on occasion if it took too long. My son stands up, beats on the rails with all manner of loud manly noises until I come. When he still had the pacifier this wasn’t an issue, but since he’s been weaned its been harder to keep him quiet. However, he is slowly getting it. With consistency and teaching them to say “mommy, I’m awake” you can avoid the loud noise that wakes up the rest of the sleeping house.
It won’t solve all your problems, but you might end up getting a few better naps out of it. This is such a short phase of life, but an important one. Even if naps are cut in half, but the kids are acting okay, it’s okay. Vacations don’t last forever. If your home is very small and your children find it hard to nap, that’s when it’s time to get creative. If it’s always been that way they are likely used to it.
Any mamas out there have tips on kids sharing rooms when napping?
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