Now that’s what I call naptime…

The other day I found myself sitting outside the house in the car for half an hour, fairly uncomfortable in the driver’s seat and getting increasingly desperate for the loo. This was after taking an incredibly roundabout route on the way home to turn a twenty minute journey into something more like forty to fifty minutes.

Why would any sane person do this? No, I do not have some strange fondness for spending excess time in the car. It was quite simple, really: my daughter was napping in her car seat. To anyone who struggles with naptime, I am sure no further explanation is needed. After skipping her morning nap altogether, I was willing to do whatever it took to ensure she had a decent afternoon sleep.

Now that's what I call naptime...

This led me to think back along the naptime journey ToddlerGirl and I have taken together. Oh, it’s been a long and arduous road. I am one of those weird mothers who are actually not overly bothered by the dropping of naps, and I am almost looking forward to the day when we do not have to worry about them at all – although come and see me in a couple of years time to see if I am being too hasty in my dismissal.

ToddlerGirl has never been good at naps. As a result, I have contorted myself physically and metaphorically in all sorts of ways to pave the way for daytime sleep. Our top five tried and tested techniques read like some kind of chart countdown.

5. The ‘Oh, Sit Down’ Nap
A favourite when ToddlerGirl was very little, this made a return at around 5/6 months when she stopped sleeping in her reclining chair during the day. I would rock her to sleep and then cuddle her for an hour or more while she slept. On the plus side, I did get to catch up on a lot of TV from the planner. The clear downsides were that I couldn’t get anything else done and I couldn’t move if I was thirsty, hungry, needed the toilet, had forgotten to get the TV controller before the nap started…

4. The ‘What Was I Thinking’ Nap
Back in the days of three naps a day, I was able to put ToddlerGirl down in her reclining chair in the living room and, with a little singing and patting, send her off for her nap. This was when I harboured some strange delusion that it was much better for her to be used to napping downstairs rather than in her cot. I’m not sure where I got that idea from. Of course, she never slept for longer than 45 minutes in her chair and I have a horrible feeling that this period helped reinforce her terrible napping habits… Ho hum. Anyway, my hand was forced when she started sitting up properly at 5 months and it wasn’t really safe to leave her unattended sleeping in the recliner. Probably just as well.

3. The ‘I Would Walk 500 Miles’ Nap
Another old faithful, this one’s been in our top five for a while. I remember well the days when I would be pounding the streets with ToddlerGirl asleep in her pram. I became very good at inventing new routes to extend our walk around the park so that she would stay sleeping for a decent length of time. One advantage to this was that my post-pregnancy fitness really improved; unfortunately, British weather being what it is, a long rainy spell meant that taking ToddlerGirl out for a walk wasn’t always an option. She will occasionally sleep in her stroller these days but it is not a reliable method anymore unfortunately.

2. The ‘Driving In My Car’ Nap
A non-mover in our charts, this has been a stock nap technique since ToddlerGirl was a few months old. I have burnt many miles hopping up the dual carriageway and I have discovered parts of our city that I didn’t know existed. I stopped using it as a regular napping tool when the husband pointed out how much petrol I was getting through. Whoops. I dread to think what it has done to the size of my carbon footprint as well. ToddlerGirl is going to have to become some top environmental scientist or something to compensate. It is still a useful aid if we are planning a long day out, though, as we can time our car journeys around naptime.

1. The ‘Halfway To Paradise’ Nap
In at number one, this was inspired by reading some tips online and in the No Cry Sleep Solution and seemed worth a try. ToddlerGirl is cuddled to sleep as usual, sometimes very quickly and easily, sometimes not so much, then gently placed in her cot. I can then nip downstairs for a brief interlude before returning to sit next the cot to head off the 40 minute wake up. At the first signs of stirring, I leap up to shush and pat her back off to sleep, for hopefully another 40 minutes. That’s the idea anyway. It works about thirty per cent of the time. Fifty per cent of the time, I end up having to pick her up and cuddle her for the rest of her nap and the remaining twenty per cent, she is awake no matter what I do and naptime is, sigh, over. I have learnt to make the most of my half an hour of freedom downstairs, and to enjoy sitting peacefully in her room playing on my phone for the rest of the time.

We are on the verge of transitioning to one nap a day now and I do harbour some faint hopes that this will be the point that The ‘Daysleeper’ Nap – when ToddlerGirl drifts off for a lovely long couple of hours after lunch – will finally make an appearance. I suspect this will not be the case until I can start putting her down in her cot awake, as with our sleep training at night. I just don’t have the energy to tackle naps as well right now and I have also been happy to carry on cuddling, particularly while ToddlerGirl is getting used to her new bedtime routine.

In the meantime, I guess I shall continue to do whatever it takes to ensure naptime success. If you need to find me, I shall be sitting outside the house in the car…

Please tell me I am not the only mum who finds themselves doing this?!

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