For a while, longer than I care to admit, after my daughter turned 4 we had several months of nap-time battles. Full on power struggles that left me feeling mad, mean and defeated as my daughter did everything she could to not take a nap. She was CLEARLY tired and yet after way too many hours she would emerge victorious having stolen most of my afternoon as I tried in vain to cajole her to sleep. It was a mess. My husband would come to my rescue and look at me as though I was a mad woman. And to be honest, I felt like a mad woman.
What did I want her to do? Sleep. What was happening instead? Hours of tossing and turning, play, restlessness. Anything except sleep. So we came up with the ten minute rule. We figured that if she could just be still for 10 minutes she would fall asleep. Still = eyes closed, not moving her body, and silent. If she could do this for 10 minutes and not fall asleep, then I would concede that she probably wasn’t as tired as I thought and she could have some quiet play instead.
This was a huge experiment. I wasn’t really sure it was going to work. But in fact for a good year after this my daughter took a nap pretty much every time I put her down and insisted on the 10 minutes rule. Nothing lasts forever. And kids do eventually outgrow naps. But this reframing of what really needed to happen changed our lives.
What is sleep like in your family? What have you found that works for you?