I know it's inevitable, and I should be grateful I've had it this long. And, yes, I know I'll survive the trauma, maybe even eventually be better off for it, but still, I'm dreading the reality. Soon — very soon — my son will give up his nap.
When he turned 3 a few months ago, my friends warned me that it was coming. I was aware, still vividly remembering when my daughter gave up her naps at 2-and-a-half years old. But my son? He has always been a champion napper, happily climbing into his bed every afternoon and emerging a couple of hours later, hours that I spent blissfully alone in my house, working, cleaning, watching Bravo while folding laundry. Can you blame me for hoping against hope that I would get more time?
Yes, I am officially in denial, the first stage of grief every mom goes through when her child's napping days are coming to an end. Have you made it through all six stages? Keep reading to find out.
- Denial. Maybe your child is way younger than any website suggests for when a child should stop napping. Maybe your little one has been napping so well for so long that you can't imagine a day that they won't want and need that afternoon siesta. So when the day comes that they insist, nope, they won't be shutting their eyes during daylight hours, you figure it's a fluke. When it happens a second time, you work a little harder to get them down, explaining how important rest is for their growing bodies. You can't yet admit that maybe, just maybe, your kids' napping days are coming to a close.
- Anger. Why the f*ck won't this kid just nap? It's for the best — for him and for you! Is he trying to kill you? Break your spirit completely? Ensure that you accomplish even less on your to-do list during the day? Regardless, you're pissed, and a long nap (maybe for you both) is the only thing that just might calm you down.
- Fear. You realize that once your child stops napping, that probably means he'll stop . . . forever. Will you ever have a minute to yourself again? Will laundry and dishes begin piling up so high you'll never see your laundry room floor or the bottom of your kitchen sink again? How will you ever catch up on all the Housewives and every kid-inappropriate Netflix and HBO series?! Is life as you know it over forever?
- Sadness. You find yourself feeling a little blue. Your life has, inevitably, just gotten a bit harder as you now officially have a conscious, needy child with you one to three more hours every day. Yes, you love this child, but you also loved having a break from him, knowing he was peacefully sleeping while you were doing whatever the hell you wanted and needed to do. A tear may fall. Sad phone calls to friends and family will be made.
- Acceptance. It's been a week or two without a single nap, and you realize it's over. Done. Never coming back. And you've also realized that it's a normal part of development for your child. If you're lucky, it's happened around the same time as some happier milestones, like being able to say your kid is officially potty trained or can play independently for long stretches. It's going to be OK, you've decided. Your child is no longer a baby, he's growing up, and you are grateful that he's moving in the right direction.
- Hope. You realize that having a non-napping child does have its benefits, namely that you're not chained to your house for hours every afternoon. You suddenly have more time to take your kids to the park, run errands, and maybe even hit the gym on a day when it didn't happen in the morning. Could this not-napping thing actually be a positive? You're not totally there, but you realize that someday, you just might be.