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AIBU to not want my toddler to nap at 4pm?

(57 Posts)
applejuice2012 Mon 22-Oct-12 15:39:50

My nearly 3 year old wakes up between 5.30am and 6.30am full of beans. She will not nap after lunch and hasn't for about a year. Even if I drive in the car for 1 hour (yes I have done it when desperate!!) she will not fall asleep. Then at 4pm she is exhausted and wants to sleep. If I let her sleep I then cannot wake her up or she screams and falls back to sleep. She will sleep until 7pm and then will not go to bed until midnight and will then wake up at 6am as usual. If I don't let her sleep at 4pm (which is possible by giving her a bath, playing outside etc) She will fall asleep between 6pm and 7.30pm and sleep until about midnight and then wake us up in the night and sleep in our bed until about 6am kicking us all night and waking up everytime she has a dream to tell me about it. She is a very light sleeper and if we put her back in her room she will spend all night chasing us back into our room. I am soooo tired as I work evenings (8pm-11pm) so do not get to bed until midnight. My DD has sooo much energy in the day she just keeps going and going and has no down time she is very intelligent and talks non stop which is great I suppose but she is wearing me out. I cannot answer the 200 whys a day and play chase over and over again I am exhuasted. She just had her check up with the health visitor (2.5 year check) and she suggested a nap after lunch as she may be overtired hence the super energy levels she appears to have, but I just cannot get her to go to sleep at that time a day no matter what I do. Can anyone help me? I am exhausted.

Also I am starting to use the TV as a crutch as I am so tired but the health visitor said that could be stimulating her more, what on earth can I do with her when she wakes up at 5.30am in the morning instead of letting her watch TV, does anyone have ideas of what to do at that time of morning?

mummymeister Mon 22-Oct-12 15:54:01

my sympathies its a nightmare when their waking and sleeping pattern doesnt fit in with the norm/what you would like. the only way to do it is by baby steps at a time to try and change things. you will get as many suggestions on how to do this as fish in the sea so it really depends on whether you believe in things like controlled crying or leaving them to it etc. would it help if she went to nursery a couple of days a week to give you a break and her some different stimulation. what about planning something exciting and active at 4pm to keep her going longer. at 2.5 none of my 3 had daytime naps at all so this may be her giving hers up. all 2.5 yr olds are like this with super energy levels you just have to look at loads of different coping strategies and work out which ones you can and cant do and which will work. hope this helps./

stargirl1701 Mon 22-Oct-12 15:56:19

Swimming in the morning? It seems to put children to sleep when all other exercise just winds them up.

SuiGeneris Mon 22-Oct-12 16:03:02

First of all sympathy: you must be very very tired!

Toddler sleep cycles are about 40 mins long, so you need to try and wake your daughter after 40 or 80 mins of sleep. If you try to wake her mid-cycle (eg after an hour) she will be groggy and grumpy. So, plan:
1: try to get her to have quiet time just before she is usually sleepy ( in our house a cuddle while reading a story in a semi-dark room works well). If she is reluctant to have the room darkened perhaps try explaining teddy needs a rest and some quiet time. If she usually wants to sleep at 4pm, I would start quiet time around 3.30. Ideally quiet time leads to a slightly earlier nap.
2. When she does fall asleep, check the time and make a note to go back to her room in 30 or 60 mins.
3. When you do go back, open the curtains and wait 5-10 mins. Watch when she starts stirring or moving and, if she does not wake up by herself within 15 mins of having light in the room, wake her gently.
4. Give her a snack and take her out: she needs light (to wake up well) and exercise (to get tired). We usually spend at least an hour at the park.
5. Go home, bath, quiet time (books, no tv, no pc), dinner and bed. Don't worry if this is much later than is traditional in the UK.
6. When she does get up in the morning, make sure she has a good breakfast and then ideally exercise outside again (a lot). Only come back in just before lunch.
7. Try giving her lunch a bit later, so that she is tired from the exercise when she eats and the post-lunch slump is close to the time she usually is tired. If she normally wants to sleep at 4pm I would aim for lunch around 1.30.
8. Have quiet time after lunch, maybe starting 15-30 mins earlier than the previous day.
9. Repeat for a week or so, playing with timings until lunch is around 12.30-1pm and the nap is roughly around 2pm. Personally I find earlier lunch results in no nap...

applejuice2012 Mon 22-Oct-12 16:05:48

She already goes to nursery 9am until 12noon everyday (just started last month) so no time for swimming in the morning which is a shame. Thanks mummymeister that is good to know all toddlers have super energy levels and it is just not mine, what coping strategies do you use? I think she is giving up the afternoon nap as when she does nap she then only sleeps for about 6 hours at night which is awful. The health visitor said she needed a quiet time after lunch? Does anyone else do that and how do you do it as my DD just jumps on me and plays 'crash crash on Mummy' if i lay down with her. She just seems to be on the go from 5.30am until 4pm and then has a kind of melt down at 4pm. Also what do other people do at 5.30am in the morning instead of putting childrens channels on?

SuiGeneris Mon 22-Oct-12 16:08:22

Ps: some sleep scientists say that the lack of afternoon nap results in worse sleep at night and earlier awakenings.

It seems to be true for us. DS (also nearly 3) usually sleeps around 2 hours in the afternoon and then from 8.30-9pm until 7-8am. If he skips the nap he might go to sleep at 7-7.30 but then has nightmares and wakes up at 10-11, goes back to sleep and wakes up at 6.30-7am.

Idocrazythings Mon 22-Oct-12 16:09:21

Try role playing mummies and babies and appropriate bed time behaviour/routine? She might take it on board if she's really cluey and you did it every day? Good luck- I feel for you

scootle Mon 22-Oct-12 16:10:44

Go to bed together and read a few stories? Toddlers sometimes nap if you have some cuddle time - and if not, it is still a rest. Or pick her up from nursery and go for a slow drive?

It does get better!

SuiGeneris Mon 22-Oct-12 16:11:13

Quiet time: in our house what works best are either stories (made up by me and told in the dark) or singing lullabies for teddy (not for DS, who is usually adamant he is not tired).

SuiGeneris Mon 22-Oct-12 16:13:19

As for 5.30am, it might be worth investing time and effort in getting up with her and doing something physical so that she is tired earlier in the afternoon and can have a nap...

applejuice2012 Mon 22-Oct-12 16:15:49

Thanks SuiGeneris, that is good advice, she is out at nursery in the mornings but at the weekends I could keep her out all morning at the park or something. The bit I struggle most with is what to do between 5.30am and 9.00am with her before she starts nursery. It seems such a long period of time.

applejuice2012 Mon 22-Oct-12 16:19:45

I have tried the drive after nursery but I can drive for an hour and she is still awake. We do read a few stories after lunch but I get tired after a couple of books as she asks 'why does the princess have a crown?' 'why are they eating peas' 'why did i tear that page of my book when i was a baby' and about 50 more questions per book and i get a bit frustrated as i don't get to read the stories as she asks so many questions i can't get a word in. It is good to know it gets better though, thanks x

applejuice2012 Mon 22-Oct-12 16:22:44

Thanks Sui, what sort of activites are good for early in the morning before nursery? I just put the disney channel on and lay on the sofa in a daze while she asks me why the characters are doing this and that, sometimes the channel is not even on air yet so we have to watch the fire works go off on the screen saver thing until the disney song 'wake up wake up' comes on (I hate hearing wake up wake up at 6am and my DD screaming its morning time mummy, god I am a grump arnt I?)

Emsmaman Mon 22-Oct-12 16:24:45

Can you take your DD out before 9am? I am often in the playground or supermarket at 8am with DD as she also often rises early (18mo, terrible sleeper, no time to get into it here). By 8am she is also ready for a snack!

Do you walk or drive to nursery? If you walk, is there a park you can go to on the way for a bit of a run around before dropping off? (I realise this will get harder as it gets colder and darker!)

I get up when DD does but I don't put the TV on, well sometimes BBC breakfast which is of no interest to her. I find the morning is the time she is most happy to play independently so I encourage that, "setting her up" with toys then going off to do a bit of housework within sight of her.

Emsmaman Mon 22-Oct-12 16:27:34

Sorry I should say, 8am is not the time for doing the weekly shop, but if I just need one or two things, it is more to get us out the house and give DD a little walk, plus she's not normally in a grump so she's not being naughty pulling food off shelves especially if I bring a snack with me for her to eat whilst we walk around.

applejuice2012 Mon 22-Oct-12 16:32:50

The 8am snack time made me chuckle, that is my DD all over, my other half is just getting up and DD is asking for snack time, DP says its breakfast time (and me through gritted teeth said no that was at 5.30am).

Emsmaman Mon 22-Oct-12 16:38:05

My DH gives me grief about my "2nd breakfast" at weekends. He doesn't understand that having toast at 10:30 (when he wakes up) is not unreasonable having had cereal at 5am.

We had a lovely 4:30am waking last week when DD's nappy leaked. I knew once we changed the nappy, pyjamas and bedding she would be fully awake and there would be no point trying to get her back to sleep, as we would have to leave the house at 7:15 for nursery as it was a work day for me. Cheeky monkey then fell asleep in the buggy on the way to nursery angry

applejuice2012 Mon 22-Oct-12 16:45:17

Oh no the 4.30am wake up sounds grim and then falling asleep on the way to nursery sad

applejuice2012 Mon 22-Oct-12 16:49:16

I will have a try without the TV tomorrow morning, the trouble is she is so used to it she asks for mickey mouse as soon as she wakes up. Maybe I could tell her micky mouse does not come on in the morning any more? I need to think of a good strategy for the morning. What time of day is a good time for little ones to watch a bit of tv as she loves mickey mouse, I could say maybe mickey mouse only comes on after lunch? That might be a good time as she could watch it after nursery? Or would that just set her up for being hyper all afternoon?

applejuice2012 Mon 22-Oct-12 16:51:12

She has even woke up asking for mickey mouse at 2.30am sad She usually watches it from about 6am to 9am every morning which I know is too much but as I said I have ended up using it as a crutch as I'm so tired I can't function at that time of day any more sad

Emsmaman Mon 22-Oct-12 16:54:38

Can you start by saying "Mickey after breakfast" then make it "Mickey before nursery" - sorry I don't know what time he is on but my DD is the same with In the Night Garden - it's "Iggle Piggle Iggle Piggle" from when she wakes up and I keep saying After dinner, after dinner. All I know is your meant to talk to toddlers with timeframes like that, not in 20 mins, in 1 hour, IYKWIM. I have a DVD of in the night garden so that when she is really tired and we need to start the bedtime process early we can do so, or if we're home late we can keep the same routine (dinner, in the night garden, bath, cuddles, bed). Strangely books get DD more wound up - I think she is still too young to find them relaxing (may be because we make fools of ourselves acting out the stories)!

Emsmaman Mon 22-Oct-12 16:57:03

applejuice from your posts I think what you really need to do is bank some sleep before approaching this again, you really sound too tired to make major changes. Do you work whilst your DD is at nursery or can you get some sleep then - blackout blinds, ear plugs etc? Can you go to bed when your DD does? In the no cry sleep solution it is suggested when you're at your wits' end, take a month off from trying to change things and just try and cram as much sleep in as possible, then approach it again with a fresh mind.

applejuice2012 Mon 22-Oct-12 17:02:35

Yes I work in the mornings while she is at nursery, I have taken a couple of days off last week to just sleep though. I can't go to bed when she does either as I work out of the house 8pm-11pm too, I do 5 hours a day split hours as a carer. It is great as I can do it when DD is alseep in the evenings and I just started the morning shift too now that she is at nursery in the mornings, so she does not even realise I work. But not so good as it stops me going to bed early. Yes your right I think I need to approach the tv thing with a fresh mind, it's just that the health visitor made me think it is maybe the tv making her have more energy.

applejuice2012 Mon 22-Oct-12 17:04:11

Weird thing is mickey mouse does not come on until about 8am but she thinks the disney junior channel is called mickey mouse channel. I like the idea of watching breakfast news in the morning instead! x

SuiGeneris Mon 22-Oct-12 17:54:59

5.30-9am is a long period... I would approach it like this:
1. No tv (maybe explaining the night before that there is not going to be tv in the morning): this might make getting up less attractive.
2. Get up, breakfast, get dressed then if at all possible go out (maybe get shopping done on the way to nursery).
3. If you cannot go out (eg if it rains or it's dark), i would put bright lights on at home and do a physical game (DS loves forward rolls, sleeping bunnies, etc). Failing all that I have been known to exercise in the sitting room to get DS to copy me. Except for us it happens mid-afternoon rather than early morning.
4. Maybe speak to the nursery to see if she can start a bit earlier (in ours DC can arrive any time between 8.30 and 9) and have a more active day?

I agree with the poster above who said you need to recharge your own batteries before starting this though. Is there anybody who could give you a hand at the weekend or for a week of early mornings, so you can rest?

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