Sleep Schedule Will Eventually Normalize
Published: July 5, 2006
Bedtime in our household is always a struggle and has become even more so now that my son is losing his nap time during the day.
I do recall the nurse telling me this would happen when he was two, but I held out hope that it would remain a part of his daily routine, as it gave me some down time and him as well.
But alas, now that he is three, it has become quite apparent that nap time is almost entirely gone, with all but a few naps here and there on the odd day. This of course, leaves us in a very inconsistent routine.
If he does take a nap in the afternoon, then he stays awake longer in the evening. This is hard because it doesn’t allow my husband and I to have any time to in the evening alone together. If my son doesn’t nap, then around 5:00 he will start to get sleepy and very cranky and anywhere between 6:30 and 7:00, he is ready for bed.
The downside to this is that he will wake up a lot earlier in the morning. For a mother with a five month old as well in the household this doesn’t bode well. I am already not sleeping entirely during the night and look forward to having a few hours in the earlier part of the morning to sleep in (hopefully until 8:00). However, on the days that he does go to bed early, my son will wake up around 6:30 am and is raring to go for the day.
Despite the fact that my daughter doesn’t sleep entirely through the night, I pretty much know exactly when she wakes and when she sleeps and for how long. Now that I am losing the naps with my son, I really don’t know what to expect anymore. Our outings are hard to schedule and so is any kind of visits during the day. Will he get tired and fall asleep on the way to the store? Or will he be terribly cranky and irrational when relatives are over during an evening?
I can’t force a nap in the afternoon if he isn’t tired, and I can’t make him last longer in the evenings by keeping him awake, if he is crashing by 5:00. He doesn’t look forward to bedtime either and it has become harder with the summer months now upon us. His regular question to me is “Why do I have to go to bed? I can still see light!” He feels like he is missing out on the world if he has to go to bed before it is dark out.
I’ve spoken to many parents who have three year olds and they are faced with similar problems. I am trying to adjust our days a bit now, and encourage a “quiet time” in our house in the earlier part of the afternoon. Whether or not he actually does sleep isn’t my main concern. I just want to provide a time during the day for him to relax and unwind a bit.
I have eliminated snacking and sugars during the latter part of the day, as well as wrestling and running around with Dad before bedtime. It will help him calm down and be in a sleepier state for bed. This will put us more in line with a constant routine of earlier bedtime and earlier mornings (bad news for me, but good news for him, as routine in a child’s life is essential).
But most of all I just have to learn to be adaptable to his changing sleeping patterns. The time out at the store can be put off if he falls asleep and the relatives will understand if it just isn’t a good time for a visit. My son’s sleeping issues are changing and I need to be able to accommodate it.
My son will eventually find a new natural rhythm for himself, and when he does, we can get back on track with a regular sleeping pattern – that is – until my daughter decides to change her own napping routine…