I feel very proud of myself, because I was able to get my 3 year old son (who doesn’t like naps) to go to sleep while his 8 year old brother was playing in the same room next to his bed and all three other kids were up playing as well (even coming in the room on occasion to ask me something). If you have children who don’t like to take naps or even sleep at all you’ll understand how big of an achievement this is. But first I’ll provide a context to help you understand why this was so important for us today.
In the morning I had spoken to their grandma who wanted to take the older kids to see a movie in the afternoon. The last time I tried to take Hani to a movie I almost lost him because he kept wandering off and wouldn’t stay in a seat (even in my lap). Apparently Popper’s Penguins were not as interesting to him as the lights on the floor (for the walkways) or the rows of folding seats or the multitude of people (including many children, some his age that he probably wanted to play with) sitting and staring at the screen. Or even the curtain under the screen or the hallway outside the theater or… just about anything but the movie.
I took the kids to the children’s museum in the morning to give them something to do since it was too hot to even swim before sundown. I packed a lunch this time so we could eat when we wanted and we wouldn’t have to wait in line for it. After arriving back home I got a confirmation call from grandma to decide on the movie and the time she would pick them up. It was about an hour away so I told her I would try to get Hani to sleep so he wouldn’t see everyone else leave for the movie. We had already had lunch but I made a fruit/veggie smoothie for us to share as a snack. Then Hani brought me a snack pack of fig newtons and asked me if he could have it. I told him he could share it if he laid down with me afterwards (I wanted every advantage I could get).
After Hani finished the fig newtons I asked him if he was ready to lay down with me in my bed. He said no, but I reminded him of our agreement and ushered him into his room (as the alternative to my bed). I was a bit disappointed because I was tired and wanted an excuse to rest, but I stayed the course, undaunted by his resistance and change of plans. I put him into his bed and was going to try and lay down with him, but he told me to get off his bed so I agreed if he would lay down and close his eyes. Then I pulled out my phone and started a lullaby app which I had installed a few days ago. He complained that everybody else wasn’t laying down (the other kids were up playing, throughout the house) but I just empathized with him and turned up the music.
Less than 10 minutes later (after trying to relax while sitting against the wall) I realized he had fallen asleep so I got up and started reminding the kids to get their shoes on. He stayed asleep until about an hour after the others left for the movie when he woke up crying, but I just went back and turned on the app again (I had removed my phone in case it would ring) and he fell right back asleep.
So how did this work? Here are the six things I did to help manifest this much needed nap for my son amidst a cacophony of boisterous juveniles:
- The trip in the morning gave him plenty of stimulation and got him tired
- I made sure his tummy was full but not stuffed
- I made an agreement about him laying down (for the fig newtons) that I felt good about holding him to later
- I stayed with him until he went to sleep and made sure he stayed in bed
- I gave him empathy without trying to ‘fix’ whatever he protested about
- The soft piano music (lullaby) helped give him something to focus his attention on besides the joyful noise of 4 other kids playing in the house