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Notes for a nice naptime

Annie
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Everley Austin

NAPTIME TACTICS Everley Austin, 3, gets to “read” in her crib before naptime. Mom Liz Austin started the reading-time tactic when she had trouble getting her to wind down.

Toddlers and babies are small yet very busy humans. When they finally crash for a nice long nap, as a parent or caretaker, it can feel like you’ve hit the lottery.

My toddler twins nap anywhere from a short 15 minutes to sometimes up to three hours. It can be a fun game each day to see how long my break will be. I try to accomplish as much as possible, but some days I just crash on the couch.

It is a struggle to keep household sounds to a minimum, mostly our barking dogs. I have a sign I hang on my door that reads, “Please Do Not Knock. Sleeping Babies. Barking Dogs.” Without fail, every so often, a solicitor or person will not “see” the sign and knock anyway, causing our dogs to bark and kids to wake and me feel like I could start crying (dramatic I know, but naptime is a break for mommy, too.)

Recently, I talked with some Buzz moms about their child’s naptime routine.

Mom-of-two Kelli Calderwood uses her baby monitor to communicate with her toddler Amelia when it’s time for her nap. “We can talk through our monitor,” said Kelli. “My daughter thinks [the monitor] is the bedtime fairy. She tells my daughter to stay in bed, lay down, stop crying. It used to work like a charm, but lately Amelia will look directly at the camera and say ‘No, lady. No naps!’”

Liz Austin and her husband Jeremy, a civil engineer, have two children – toddler Everley, 3, and infant Austin, 5 months. They also talk to Everley through their baby monitor. “[Jeremy] calls it the ‘voice of Oz’,” said Liz. “He says to me, ‘Do you want me to go in there or just Oz her?’”

If you have more than one child who requires a nap, naptime can become a struggle due to their differing needs. Liz came up with a tactic to keep Everley occupied while she puts Austin down for a nap (which happen about 2-3 times a day, while Everley naps only once a day). She pulls out a play tent for Everley to quietly play inside of. “Naptime with these two is tough because they rarely overlap, no matter how I try. For some reason, [Everley] is much more likely to focus on a toy and play quietly when she is in the tent.”

It can also be a challenge to balance the chores and to-do list with children, so Liz said she handles her daily household chores first once they are both asleep. She also enjoys some downtime. “I like to squeeze in a quick yoga practice using one of the videos on Amazon Prime. Then, I curl up with a mug of hot tea – even if it is 80 degrees outside – with my dog Ouisie to watch Grey’s Anatomy reruns on Lifetime.”

Liz said Everley uses her imagination to play before she falls asleep. “Instead of an imaginary friend, Everley has an imaginary pack of cheetah cubs. Apparently, they follow her everywhere, including into bed at naptime. I once heard her over the monitor telling them to ‘lay down and be quiet’ because they had ruined her nap.”

If Everley resists settling down after a lot of play, Liz allows her to select a few books to bring into her crib. “We instituted independent reading time in her crib. I love listening to her little voice ask for some ‘inipinit ree-ing’. It works great except for when I forget that she is in there with the lights on, and she has to call me in and ask if she can go to sleep. Oops.”

Jenny Seckinger, a realtor and mom of two, started a routine that she now says was not her best decision. She has to lay down with her daughter to get her to fall asleep for a nap. “I am not sure it was the wisest decision, but we bought her a queen bed so I could lay with her if there was a need,” said Jenny. “Now apparently, I always need to lay with her to get her to sleep.”

One mom with grown kids, Kaitlyn Lee Sharp, said it’s all about creating the right environment for naptime – a loud and busy one to teach them to sleep through it all. “My kids slept to rock ’n’ roll and the vacuum cleaner. They slept through anything because we didn’t try to be quiet.”

Do you have a naptime trick that works wonders? Share it with all of us by leaving a comment below.

Editor's note: We wish naptime success, now more than ever, to writer Annie Blaylock McQueen. She wrote this story shortly before giving birth to her third child. We hear baby Georgia and  toddler twins Cash and Lila are doing great.

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