Nap Battles

Some days I hope and pray Jemma, my 1 year old, will take a nap by herself in her crib, even if just for an hour. Although I wouldn’t trade being a stay-at-home-mama for anything, a few moments peace to read, write, or prepare dinner in silence would be welcome. For months I fought this: the nap battle. Walking, rocking, singing, bouncing, anything to lull her into a deep enough sleep that she might survive the transfer from my arms to her crib without waking.

Some days it worked. Most, it didn’t. And then, one day this Fall everything clicked.

We were rocking in the same wood rocking chair my mom rocked me in 25 years ago. I had just finished singing “You Are My Sunshine” and I heard the deep sigh of peaceful sleep come from Jemma as she nuzzled closer into my shoulder. Normally, this is when I’d attempt the transfer. Instead, I held her longer: smelling her hair, rubbing her back, and feeling thankful to have her as my girl. I rose from the rocking chair, placed her in our family bed, and snuggled in beside her. She napped. I napped. We woke up together with smiles. It was lovely!

I was also unproductive for those 2 hours of rest, but it made me feel more whole and more at peace with motherhood. That day, I didn’t have time to read, or write, or prepare a fancy dinner. But it was a good day and Jemma and I were both happier because of our nap together.

Since that day I haven’t attempted the crib transfer. It isn’t worth the fight and worry. No amount of housework can replace the brief pause we take each day to snuggle in bed and rest. Sometimes I nap with her, other times I pull out my laptop and work on projects. Either way, I am right beside her when she falls asleep and when she wakes up. She sleeps more soundly and doesn’t wake with tears like she used to during crib naps. In our home, the nap battles are over and Jemma and I are both victors, because we worked out a new, better plan for naps together.

Gentle parenting isn’t easy.
It’s time consuming and selfless.
It’s messy and rewarding.
Gentle parenting is making me a better mama.

About The Author: Gretchen

ThatMamaG My NPN Posts

I am a WAHM mama of two from the Pacific Northwest. I began my career in corporate sales and marketing and am now a freelance writer exploring the joys of attachment parenting while trying to find a reason to wear something other than yoga pants on a daily basis :)

12 Responses to Nap Battles

  1. Emily

    We came to exactly the same conclusion, after the same process, and when I look around at the messy house or unwashed pots, I remind myself that this is such a short period of time in my baby girl’s life and I must ENJOY it! I only wish I’d been as wise when my son was a baby.

    • Gretchen  

      I totally hear you on leaving the housework behind – clean dishes just aren’t as fun as baby snuggles. It’s like that poem that ends with ” So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep. I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.”

  2. Michelle

    My 20 month old is the same way, only I could probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve been able to leave her to sleep alone for a nap. Lately it’s been getting difficult. It’s the same at night too, only most nights it can take around 2 hours for her to fall fully asleep and unlatch – usually around 10:30 or 11. I tried getting her to go to sleep without comfort nursing, but it was just heartbreaking for her. Not the “I’m upset that I didn’t get what I want” kind of the thing, but the “I’m so angry I want to damage something; betrayal” kind of thing. After three days I gave up. She’s not ready. This is what she needs right and I need to adjust my expectations and really search MY heart if what I was wanting was selfish and inappropriate for this time in life. She’s my only child and I’m not expecting, so I have the time and wherewithall to fulfill her needs in this special way – something a 2nd+ child will never get. I’m trying to refocus and cherish these moments of held naps and endless nighttime snuggles – because I won’t get them back and at the end of the age it’s the “time together” we all want back.

    You are so right:
    “Gentle parenting isn’t easy.
    It’s time consuming and selfless.
    It’s messy and rewarding.
    Gentle parenting is making me a better mama.”

  3. Jamie

    We are in the same rocking, but happy boat with our little Lucy. There are times when I resent having to nurse her to sleep and look at other moms who can simply lay their child down and they fall asleep. Dying to self is never easy, and the sacrifice of time and energy is always worth it. I’ve already been rewarded with so many beautiful moments with my little Lu that I would have robbed myself of had we chosen a different parenting method. I do wonder if I will be able to keep up this pace when we have more children. Would love to hear other comments from moms who have been able to keep this pace with all their children and how they did it.

    Thanks for the reminder, Gretchen.

    • Gretchen  

      I’m curious about more than 1 too! My hope is that Jemma will be in the groove of snuggling for naps and perhaps we’ll all be able to nap together. Then again, she might be distracted by a little playmate in bed …. Hope some mamas of 2 chime in!

      • Beth

        I have three kids, ages 4, 3, and almost 2. About a month or so ago, we started having naps together in our bed. I just say that we are going to have story and quiet time, and we all pile in bed and I read to them for about a half-hour or so, then we all snuggle in and fall asleep. The first few days was a bit difficult to get them to stop squirming and poking eachother, but eventually they got the idea that Mom is serious and they need to quiet down. So, now I look forward to our together-time every day. I started out doing this out of what I thought was necessity in order to get them to take their nap without a fight, but then it turned into a special part of the day. Sure, I miss out on 2 hours of time by myself, but I enjoy the 2 hours of time with my children that I probably won’t have for much longer.

      • Gretchen  

        This is lovely! This is exactly what I hope will work for my family with more kiddos – afternoon snuggles and quiet time, a chance for us all to rest! Thank you for sharing 🙂

  4. Claire  

    I had this exact same revelation, but it took me being pregnant to finally get it. I was so tired that I just fell asleep with her while she was nursing and ta-da! She napped for 3 hours. Since then, I try to rest most days that she naps. If I can’t fall asleep after trying, I get up, but most days I nap. It’ll be hard to continue with the new baby when (s)he comes, but I’m going to try. I’m a much happier mama when I’ve napped too.

  5. Gretchen  

    I feel happier when I nap too 🙂 Jemma still wakes up most nights and I think a nap here and there is the perfect recovery time!

  6. Julie M.  

    Same struggle here! My son is 4 months and doesn’t nap more than 2x 20 minutes a day! But I can’t complain because he sleeps 9-10 hours through the night EVERY NIGHT! since he was 8 weeks! I am blessed! And for some reason, when I put him down at night for bed, no cries at all! It’s like he knows