Waking A Child From A Nap Will Not Tip The Earth Off Its Axis

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child-nappingBefore I had children, I was one of those people who thought I would be able to get my infant used to noise so that they could sleep better in our loud, city apartment. I was convinced we wouldn’t whisper or change the way we moved about the house at all when he was asleep. I was wrong. I totally became the super-quiet, yell-whisper mom I never thought I would be. Along with that behavior came an ultra-sensitivity to my child’s nap time and how it was affected. In other words –  I never strayed from it.

The first time I whisper-yelled at my husband to SHUT THE FUCK UP! when he entered our apartment on his cell phone while our kid was napping, I knew something inside me had shifted. I really wanted him to shut the fuck up. I really wanted my child to have his nap. Really. When I realized those nap times were the only opportunity I had to take care of stuff that was totally neglected during those early days of being a first time mom – I committed myself to making sure the nap schedule was regimented and followed. Don’t get me wrong, I helped out a lot to have him down for those naps. I just took it a little too far.

When I was still living in Brooklyn, events would come up that would happen to coincide with the time that he went down – usually around 10 o’clock in the morning and one o’clock in the afternoon. I would inevitably skip these events, because I didn’t want to disturb the space-time continuum – I mean, my child’s nap. I committed to these nap times more than I’ve ever committed to anything in my life. Then the day came when I realized I needed to get a grip.

I know an over-tired kid is a pain in the neck, but I was literally a prisoner to these naps. Friends would try to make play dates, a cool kids concert would be playing at our local park – and it was always, Sorry! That’s his nap time! In retrospect, I can see that this is really dumb. As if a kid won’t stay up an extra hour in the daytime to dance to a live band. And yes, he will probably be an extra tired jerk that night – but does it matter that much?

I guess I think about it more now, because we are in a new place that doesn’t have half the cool stuff going on that used to occur in my old neighborhood. I’ll be able to tell my son the first concert he went to was Parliament Funkadelic and the second one was Fishbone. What if I decided his naps were too important those days? What a bummer that would have been. Not to mention the fact that it was almost impossible to schedule a play date with all of the varying nap times the different moms had for their kids. It was just overboard.

With kid number two, this won’t be as much of an issue. I’m a multitasking whiz now, I don’t depend on the naps as much. Also, I’m way better at ignoring my children. If you have a regimented nap schedule, more power to you. I just think I’m going to lighten up this time around.

(photo: OmiStudio/ Shutterstock)


  1. Linzon

    April 30, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    My 1-year old is still waking up several times a night and is now waking up at 5:30am so even though he’s my second kid I’m still That Mom with the naps because I’m clinging to the desperate hope that decent naps will someday mean decent nights. It’s not going to be forever and somehow we still manage to have a social life around naptime.

    • cabinfever

      April 30, 2014 at 7:04 pm

      Yes, this. With our first, I didn’t really schedule naps. But our second gets overtired SO easily, it took almost 10 months to get her to nap and sleep without crying. It was like months and months of perpetual sleep training, and it was the worst.

      We’ve just started to get 5-6 consecutive hours of sleep in the last couple of weeks, and it feels like a miracle. But yeah, not much social time for us. We had to choose between life and sleep.

  2. Kay_Sue

    April 30, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    I don’t depend on naps to get things done…but I HATE dealing with a toddler that needed a nap and didn’t get it or didn’t finish it. We were pulling our hair out for a few weeks because the three year old had quit napping, even though he still needed to. We had a real gremlin on our hands by the early evening, every evening. That I could do without. 😉

    • Sarah

      April 30, 2014 at 7:49 pm

      I don’t depend on naps to get things done either, I depend on them for my sanity. I sit on my ass and read during nap time!

    • Andrea

      April 30, 2014 at 7:54 pm

      Amen sister. AH-MEN.

      And when I was pregnant with my 2nd, my ass was asleep 5 seconds after the toddler was asleep too.

    • Sarah

      April 30, 2014 at 8:25 pm

      lol exactly, I’m 35 weeks pregnant…not about to fuck with nap time.

    • ted3553

      April 30, 2014 at 10:49 pm

      Oh lord yes. I am not looking forward to when my toddler drops his nap and I can’t nap. I am thinking about when I get to catnap in the sun his weekend and may actually have an official countdown going

    • Kay_Sue

      April 30, 2014 at 8:45 pm

      I completely agree. Sometimes I also use it as my “catching up on DVRed shows that the kids can’t watch” time.

    • Natasha B

      April 30, 2014 at 9:22 pm

      I am completely behind on Revenge because we are on day two of someone messing with naptime. I’m on edge.

    • Butt Trophy Recipient

      April 30, 2014 at 7:58 pm

      I totally depend on naps to survive.

    • Kay_Sue

      April 30, 2014 at 8:45 pm

      I napped today because the husband is home and could watch the toddler.

      It was glorious. Glorious, I say.

    • LiteBrite

      May 1, 2014 at 9:51 am

      My son quit napping too right about 3-3 1/2. I had expected a gradual decline in nap time, not an all-out quitting-cold-turkey kind of thing. And he was a BEAR to deal with for the first few months because he still needed that nap but. would. not. take. one.

      I honestly miss naptime sometimes. That kid would sleep for hours. It was glorious.

    • Kay_Sue

      May 1, 2014 at 11:03 am

      He’s gone in and out on it for the past two or three weeks. Some days he takes it, some he doesn’t. The first day or two without one isn’t too bad, honestly, but the accumulation after that point makes me want to cry right along with him by about 5 or 5:30.

    • Andrea

      May 1, 2014 at 1:25 pm

      Here’s something you might want to try: you can try “quiet time”. I did this to sorta ease into no-nap land. What it means is that they have to be in their rooms engaged in a QUITE activity. They can read, draw, play , but it HAS to be quiet. The time is up to you, I did it for an hour.
      At the beginning, he was all like “score NO NAP!!”, then he would drop off more often, then back down to easing out of nap. We did this on year 3 and stopped by year 4 because he really didn’t need it anymore. But, he would, on occasion, do quiet time on his own without me telling him.

    • LiteBrite

      May 1, 2014 at 2:31 pm

      I do that sometimes now. If it’s been “one of those days”, I’ll just say, “Dude, break time.” I do just as much for me as for him. 🙂

  3. CrushLily

    April 30, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    I admit I’m pretty regimented with the sleep schedule, even with number 2. I find its worth it for the difference between a series of 40 minute naps and two solid 2 hour sleeps. The only difference is that #2 spends a lot more time sleeping in the pram when we are out and about. I also find that I need #2 to sleep longer so #1 gets a solid block of my attention before I can ignore him for the rest of the day.
    I am, however, not afraid to wake my kid up from his sleep. There is a parenting book that considers waking your kid up from sleep to be paramount to child abuse. My friend follows it and spends a lot of time lamenting that when her 3 year old falls asleep in the car he won’t go to bed at night but she can’t wake him up because it will somehow traumatise him. Or something unspeakable will happen, I’m not sure what. I think I’d rather take my chances with the unexplained trauma that battle my kid for 2 hours trying to get him to go to bed.

    • Andrea

      April 30, 2014 at 7:56 pm

      I consider waking up a kid abuse: for the parent! LOL

    • Bethany Ramos

      April 30, 2014 at 9:08 pm

      Agree! Haha

  4. Angela

    April 30, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    All I can say is that I think that a lot depends on the kid’s temperament. Now that my oldest is 5 he’s a bit more flexible, but for the first 3-4 years I learned NEVER to fuck with his sleeping schedule. He not only would morph into a biting, scratching, screaming mess the minute he got tired, he also would get so overtired that he would refuse to sleep and would be up half the night. It would take 2-3 days to get him settled back into his routine again and until then he’d be a holy terror. My second kid’s A LOT more laid back. Sure he gets cranky when he’s tired but it’s nothing like what we went through with his older brother. Plus he’ll settle right back into his usual schedule so I’m a lot more willing to be flexible with naps and bedtimes.

    • jane

      April 30, 2014 at 8:08 pm

      YES. THIS. We were insane about getting my daughter to bed on time, because if she didn’t we’d pay for it for days. Same thing with naps. And I wanted to punch every.single.person who said “just let her fall asleep in the car, and then you can put her right in bed.” Because what that meant was “let her take a 15 minute cat nap, stay up til 10.30, and be a terrible mess for the next 2 days.” With my second, he’s just a much more flexible kid all around, and we didn’t have to be prisoner to nap or bed. In fact, we basically made him stop napping at 2.5 because I had stuff to get out and do with the older one, and he was pretty obliging.

    • Jessifer

      April 30, 2014 at 9:08 pm

      Yes, same here. Having scheduled naps was my only salvation once my son passed the newborn stage. If I didn’t put him down for a nap after every 1.5-2hrs of being awake, he would scream and cry all day long. And unfortunately, he WOULD NOT sleep anywhere other than his crib or play yard. When he was 6 months old, I tried to get him to take a nice nap on the beach under the shade with a gentle ocean breeze (nice, right?) and he was not having any of it. It was a battle of the wills that lasted hours, to the point where we had to take him into our hotel room and sit there in a dim room, in complete silence for 2 hours, waiting for him to finish napping. He did this every single day we were on vacation. So much for trying!

  5. Andrea

    April 30, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    Wait no. I don’t AT ALL think that being a slave to nap time was a mistake. I was super anal about them too and for one reason only: the few (VERY FEW!) times I said “Fuck this, he can have his nap a little later, that little tyrant can SUCK IT!” I lived to regret it.
    Because the little bundle of misery would not nap at any other given time and then was a gigantic pain in the ass the rest of the day…AND BEYOND.
    I’m not saying I did this forever, but until they were good and ready to give up naps (and that didn’t happen till after age 3) no amount of pleasure/fun was worth the sheer misery that came later.

  6. Andrea

    April 30, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    I’ll leave you all with this:

    • Kay_Sue

      April 30, 2014 at 8:46 pm


    • Jessifer

      April 30, 2014 at 9:14 pm

      My 9-month-old is teething so he’s been super miserable for days now. I put him to bed 2 hours ago and it’s been total silence since then. I just went in to check on him and saw his eyes pop wide open… These are moments where you just slowly walk backwards, gently shut the door, tiptoe away and pray to god you don’t hear any wailing within the next 2 minutes!

    • Iwill Findu

      April 30, 2014 at 9:20 pm

      This reminds me I need to oil my daughters door. The stupid thing squeaks when I try to close it, and that wakes her up every time.

    • Natasha B

      April 30, 2014 at 9:20 pm

      Oh gawd, that’s the worst! Hope he stays asleep for you. Also…best GIF ever

    • Kay_Sue

      April 30, 2014 at 9:54 pm

      So applicable.

    • Ro

      April 30, 2014 at 11:13 pm

      Oh man! That’s truly terrifying. When my daughter used to do that it would remind me of a horror movie when they thought they’d killed the demon, then right before the movie ends, it shows the demons eyes pop back open and you’re all like “oh noooo!”

    • darras

      May 1, 2014 at 8:55 am

      I laughed so hard at this that I woke my son from his nap! Argh! Still, it was a sympathy laugh because I’ve totally been there too.. Crossed fingers for you!

  7. jendra_berri

    April 30, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    Two solid naps in the day time mean a happy child in the evening means a solid night’s sleep means a relaxed evening with my husband– which I will give up never!

    • Sarah

      April 30, 2014 at 8:28 pm

      Bedtime is the best part of the day. I get to hang with my bf, have a beer, watch tv…be a real live person again!

  8. Natasha B

    April 30, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    Yeah, nope, currently cooking the 4th spawn and my feelings on naps remain the same: mess with my toddlers nap and I WILL CUT YOU.
    Granted, we will let it slide an hour either wat, which she handles well, but that nap time is MY precious, sweet, do jack shit time. Today, her nap got screwed because the mother in law wanted to go to lunch. And she fell asleep on the way home. Which meant she got a 15 min car nap and was raring to go, and is currently running around like a crazy pants, and I’m pounding orange soda and Reese’s eggs. Help.

  9. Paul White

    April 30, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    I care a *lot* about nap time. It’s daddy’s relaxation time! OF COURSE I care about naptime!

  10. hbombdiggity

    May 1, 2014 at 12:19 am

    Your kid and I have similar tastes in music. Cool kid.

  11. Alicia Kiner

    May 1, 2014 at 12:47 am

    My daughter was a kid who when naptime rolled around, wherever she was, she would lay down and go to sleep. There was none of this keeping her up an hour longer nonsense. If she was in the car, I could just buckle her, take her inside, and lay her down. This is the kid who still to this day (8) will not stay up past bedtime. She puts herself to bed, to Hell with the rest of us. Lol

    My son, completely opposite. He refused to take naps right around 3 1/2, but still needed them. He was the spawn of Satan from about 5 until bedtime at 7:30. Now, the kid thinks if he falls asleep at all, then wakes up, he’s had enough sleep for the night and it’s time to start the new day.

    It’s crazy how different two siblings can be

  12. Ursi

    May 1, 2014 at 7:55 am

    So I was hell on earth ADHD child who couldn’t nap. Not gonna, lie, when they would put us down for naptime at preschool I would just lie there twitching on my mat and praying it would be over soon so I could run around and play again. I’ve always been a light sleeper and I have a fundamental aversion to sleeping during daylight hours.

    My poor parents.

  13. darras

    May 1, 2014 at 8:53 am

    I really needed this post. I’m also a super regimented nap mum. Or at least I try really hard not to be but I still am :/ Happily my husband won’t let me do this on the days that he is home and … the world doesn’t end! Still can’t shake my militant “But it’ll be nap time while we’re out!” responses though.. ugh.

  14. Jennifer Freeman

    May 1, 2014 at 10:43 am

    My daughter was an awesome napper. Shed do one, 3 hour nap each day, without fail. My son? He is six months old and takes maybe two, 25 minute naps. Those naps only happen if they start with food and end with him sleeping in your arms. He is one of those kids that gets super energetic and feisty when overtired.

  15. Blahblah

    May 1, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    I thought I was getting lucky. Tiny Blah was putting herself down for naps! And sleeping for like, an hour and a half! And then it all went to shit and now I have to hold her through the whole nap, and I have to do the sacred Nap Ritual and sacrifice time to the Nap Gods. 🙁

  16. melena gasper

    May 1, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    My eldest has ASD and would spew venom when she missed nap. #2 is way more flexible, which is a nice change. I have to keep him up til 2pm or later most days because of his sister’s activities, though, and I kind of miss the strict naptime. I need a damn nap.

  17. Pingback: 10 Hardcore Napping Tips For Adults

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