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Naptime Fail! What Would You Do?

Okay, so I am having a seriously hard time with my kiddos and nap time.  I am in need of some help and wisdom from other parents who have been in a similar situation and might have some tips or advice for me.

My kiddos are 20 months apart, a boy and girl, and they share a room.  The whole sharing room thing had gone pretty well up until this point.  I think they like knowing that their sibling is sleeping in the same room with them, it provides them with comfort, and it has also taught them to be pretty sound sleepers.

All was well, until my daughter taught my son to climb out of his crib

He started climbing out of his crib at every nap time, nighttime, and in the morning when he woke up and would come downstairs to where our room is. So we just decided to give up the crib and borrowed a toddler bed for him from a friend until we figure out what kind of beds we want for both of them (bunk beds, maybe?).

But, we have been having such a hard time getting our son to stay in his bed, calm himself down, and go to sleep.  It has been a daily struggle for almost a month now.  And I’m tired.

I’m tired of fighting with him at nap time and nighttime to get him to go to sleep.  And I’m tired because he gets up in the middle of the night, and has a really hard time going back to sleep, or he wants to sleep in our bed where he likes to touch my face and play with my hair instead of falling asleep. And I’m tired because many days he doesn’t get a nap at all, and I miss that hour or two of blissful silence in the afternoon.

So I decided to just rip off the band-aid and teach my kids to go to sleep, in their beds, by themselves once and for all.  And it has not been fun.

Bedtime is generally okay, because they are both tired and ready to go to sleep, and my husband helps with bedtime, so we are usually one-on-one with the kids, It might take awhile, but they do, eventually, fall asleep.

But naptime is a different story.

My kids both still really need to take naps.  If they don’t, they get so tired and upset later in the afternoon/evening that they literally cannot function.  My son cried, pretty much inconsolably, for an hour straight one day that he didn’t take a nap.   And then they are so tired at bedtime, that they lose it, and keep themselves from falling asleep, even though they are so tired.  It’s a viscous cycle.

Ever since we moved him to a toddler bed, nap time for Brenden has been a struggle and pretty hit or miss with whether or not he will actually take a nap, or not.

For some reason, he  just gets super hyper and crazy at nap time, even though he is tired.  And because they share a room, he and my daughter just egg each other on and rile each other up, instead of settling down and going to sleep.

So, I want to know, what would you do in our situation?  How would you help your toddler and their older sibling, who share a room, to settle down and go to sleep by himself?

Just to give you a little more information about our situation, just because I already know, and have tried, many of the ideas out there, so I’m anticipating some of the suggestions.

1. My kids will stay in their beds at nap time for at least an hour or an hour and half, but they jump on the beds, or are just generally crazy and won’t settle down and actually go to sleep.  So the issue is not getting them to stay in their beds necessarily, the issue is getting them to settle down.

2. It’s also not about letting them cry themselves to sleep, as neither of them are at all concerned or upset.  Usually they tell me that they want me to go downstairs, because they know that once I leave, they can start to play.  So there’s really no “sleep training” I can do with them by letting them cry for a few minutes, then going in to comfort them for a minute, and repeating that process until they fall asleep.  They’re not upset, and they’re just fine with hanging out in their beds and not going to  sleep.

3. There is no good way to keep my kids in their room.  Their room is upstairs in a converted attic in our house and the only doorway is at the bottom of the stairway.  There is a narrow “hallway” leading into the room and we have put a gate across there to keep them in the room, but the problem is there is a pass-through closet that they climb through to bypass the gate.  Even when we’ve tried to stack stuff up in the closet and block it off, they still find a way to get through.  So, now we just leave the gate open, because if they’re going to get out anyway, we’d rather they are safe, than having them climb through boxes stacked in a closet.

4. I have stayed with them, either sitting in a chair in the room, or at the top of the stairs where my kids can’t see me, after we’ve done our nap time routine and I’ve told them to lay down and go to sleep.  This is effective for keeping them in their beds, and keeping them from going down the stairs, but not effective in getting them to settle down and actually fall asleep.

5. They aren’t fazed by most consequences.  Today I removed all the toys from their room as a consequence for acting up and not going to sleep, and in an effort to get them to settle down and sleep.  They could have cared less.  All that I left was their beds, pillows and blankets and the other furniture in the room, and told them they wouldn’t get it back until the showed me that they could settle down and go to sleep by themselves. No such luck. (I was planning on cleaning out and purging  the kids stuff anyway, so maybe now is the time to do it!)

I welcome any and all thoughts or advice you might have for my situation because I am at my wits end!

Oh, and may I also mention that both of my kids are very spirited (i.e. strong willed) so that of course adds an interesting element to the situation too.

Thanks in advance for your help!  I sure need it and appreciate it!

Photo credit: Pottery Barn Kids

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