Now, Olivia comes from a family of nappers. I napped everyday (willingly) until I went to school full time (that would make me six) and each summer, I took up daily naps again after long swimming sessions. Twenty-eight years after most kids stop napping, I still appreciate an afternoon nap. I, simply, never gave them up. Nor have my three sisters'. My DH's mother has told me that he used to ask to take a nap. To this day, he too appreciates a nap. On any Saturday or Sunday, it wouldn't be odd to find the whole family napping between 1:00pm and 3:30pm.
Therefore, I've always been confused when people tell me their child dropped all naps at age one, two or three, etc. I especially became perplexed after our pediatrician in Alaska explained naps to me something like this (when I asked her when I could expect Olivia to grow out of her nap):
"No one grows out of naps. Think about it. If you took a one hour nap in the afternoon, say between 1:00 and 2:00, would it really affect what time you went to bed at night or the quality of your sleep? For most people, not at all. Actually, you'd be better rested, happier and sick less often. Most adults could use a nap and all kids need naps. Whether you have to move it to a later time, earlier time or put a time limit on it, you should be able to figure out a way to keep your child napping until she goes to school full-time. And, if you can't, make sure she has quiet time in her room for a least one hour a day for your sanity and to teach her to appreciate alone time and learn to respect quiet time."
Olivia has always been a champion napper. But, after our doctor's advice, I was certain I'd never allow Olivia to give up a nap. Up until recently, it wasn't uncommon for her nap 1:30-4:30. I didn't anticipate any problems. I had it very good.
Oh, but lately, I am beginning to see what all my friends, who have kids who don't nap, are talking about (let's be honest folks, until it happens to you, it's very easy to be judgemental - even though we know it's wrong to be). Olivia has discovered the world of imagination and as the weeks go by, her "world" just gets more and more exciting. She spends many "naps" softly signing and talking to her babies. Her room is dark and the house is quiet. She'll lay down around 1:30 and often not fall asleep until 3:00. When she does fall asleep, she will sleep for two or three hours. Lately, up to two to three times a week, she comes out of her room around 3:30 or 4:00 not having napped at all.
On the no napping days, she cannot function as a human being beyond 5:00. I don't mean that she's a bit cranky, whiny and somewhat unbearable. I mean that she will have one or two complete break-downs, full of screaming at the top of her lungs, hyperventilating, gagging and falling on the floor because she can't see the ocean from where she's standing (and moving up the balcony to see it is out of the question) or the marker/crayon isn't the right color, size, etc. Calming her down can take over an hour. I'm not kidding folks. CANNOT function. Meaning I can't function either. I can't make dinner, often she'll make Lila start to cry and then I'll start to freak out myself. The house gets louder and louder and none of it is good! And, if she doesn't nap on swimming lesson evenings, she misbehaves in class and her instructor has been known to give her a time out! She's, very obviously, not ready to give up naps.
Part of this nap issue is because she often doesn't wake up in the morning until 8:30. A three-year-old can't wake up at 8:30 and then go down for a nap 1:30. Up at 7:00, down at 1:30 would be more realistic. And, she's certainly not going to nap well if I don't get her outside playing and running around for a couple of hours. She also has too many toys creeping back into her room that stimulate her too much. So, some of the problem is my fault. We haven't really been outside too much this week in the morning and I keep forgetting to empty out her room on a regular basis. Two dolls and her blanket are really all she needs. So, I have several, obvious, things I can do to get naps back on the right track.
However, I find myself thinking about a good back-up plan for a dropped nap. I can't force her to nap. I can, however, make her stay in her room for a least an hour. Since she's the type of child who enjoys alone time, I think this will work. I need an afternoon break. I'm not the most patient mother out there and I need a good hour to regroup in the afternoon and have time to myself. I'll have to keep you all posted. I don't sound the least bit stressed about this, do I?