The other day Jena was pretending she was a princess and came up to me and asked me to read her the pretend letter that I apparently had written her. I played along and made up some things that could have been in the letter. I ended the letter by saying I hoped she would have a good nap that afternoon because it's important for princesses to get their rest. She stopped me and asked me to change the ending because she was not a little girl princess, she was a grown-up princess. I changed my ending to instead say that I hoped she would take a good nap that afternoon because grown-up princesses need to get their rest too. She was not at all amused by this and proceeded to rip up the pieces of paper, which contained the pretend letter, and throw it in the trash. I laughed so hard.
Jena does not like nap time. None of my kids have liked nap time after the age of 3. Before that age, most of my babies have been very good sleepers and done well at nap time. For some reason though there comes a point where they no longer feel they need sleep to function. Ben and I are night owls so it makes sense all our kids are. I'm also someone who does not need a lot of sleep and a few of our kids definitely take after me for that. Regardless of genetics though kids need sleep whether they think they do or not. If not sleep, then definitely some quiet, down time....this I am a firm believer in.
We can't force kids to sleep...at least I haven't figured out how yet. What I can do is try as best I can to keep them on a healthy sleep schedule and hope that in time their bodies will adjust and that they will learn to relax and enjoy the time of rest. Sleep training babies is so different than toddlers. If you are at all interested in learning about the method I have used for all my babies then I recommend reading the book Baby Wise. For now I just want to share with you how I have dealt with the tireless toddler who fights nap time.
First, nap time isn't really nap time anymore. I call it rest time. Even if the child tells me they are not tired they have to go down for rest time. I require this of all my kids until they start school. It is at the same time every day, typically. I allow the child to listen to a CD and look at books quietly. They are not allowed to get out of their bed and they are not allowed to make noise. The noise part isn't so much an issue with the girls but it really was with my boys....there is always noise coming out of a boy! Then set a time limit. Our rest time is 2 hours. If they don't obey those rules there is a consequence. This is something you have to decide for your child. Whatever your consequence is for disobeying in other areas, should be the consequence for disobeying at rest time.
Some of my kids did this very well and others (ahem, Gabe & Jena) not so much. The key is to remain firm in your expectations and be consistent. There will be some days (or weeks) that you spend the entire rest time going up there and reminding them to obey and getting them back in their bed and you will be exhausted! I promise if you remain firm and don't waiver on what you expect from the child they will get it and when that moment happens you will be so happy you made the commitment to train them to have rest time. It is amusing to me that it is usually the child who fights it the most who ends up falling asleep!
Now if I could only train myself to take naps, we'd be golden!