Our Naptime Routine | Just Add Ginger

Something we are really proud of as parents is that Eric - for the majority of the time - is a really good sleeper. I worked really hard when he was younger at getting him used to soothing himself in his cot (as a newborn he liked to be rocked back to sleep quite a lot and by the end of it my arm would be dead.) But once he was in his own room that was it....he was doing it himself. I'd sit there for hours sometimes rubbing his back and shushing him back to sleep and now, two years down the line, those sleepless nights have paid off.

image shows a mother and son walking in the woods

I wish the same could be said for nap time! As a baby Eric was great. But now..... bloody hell! It's luck of the draw whether he's going to sleep for two hours, an hour or even go down at all. He will fight it and fight it and fight it sometimes until I look at the monitor and think 'this really isn't going to happen is it?' then give up. Yes, when it comes to naps, Eric gets a serious case of FOMO. 

Which is pretty much when anybody else except for me and him are in the house. I don't take any crap when it comes to nap times so whereas Ryan is great at getting Eric back to sleep should he wake in the night (they are thick as thieves) it is nearly always down to me to be the designated nap time bad cop. 

Routine plays a huge part in whether Eric's naps are successful. It's taken a long time to figure out what works best and things change all the time. The first thing I do is to gauge when Eric might be getting sleepy. He still has a morning nap so when he wakes up first thing I check the time and plan to try him 3.5 hours later. This timing suggestion was given by my health visitor and it's been a really good tip for us. Being a few steps ahead when it comes to predicting when Eric is ready for a nap is essential to it being a success

image shows a mother and son walking in the woods

Now when it comes to nap times it's all or nothing. I have made sure that Eric knows that when he's in his cot and the right conditions are set it's time for bed. I don't count car sleeps or any naps that are induced by motion unless he is absolutely shattered. He gets the best quality of sleep being in a cot so that is what we do. 

When he was younger (and lighter) I would carry Eric up to bed. But now that that is no longer an option (unless I somehow grow a load of muscle overnight) I turn to the thing that instantly nominated you for 'Parent of the Year'.... bribes! 

Biscuits are my current bribe of choice. Oh I can hear the judgemental signs and eye rolls happening as I type, but I don't care. They work! Every morning in the lead up to him trying for a sleep we have 'biscuits in  bed.' He carries the biscuits up the stairs, chomping all the way, and then I put one in his cot to have once he's in. One or two little biscotti are enough to get him where he needs to be and keep him there. It also keeps him occupied for long enough for me to put him in a sleeping bag which are not his favourite things.

Next we have story time. I normally aim to read 2-3 books before he goes down and finish on Eric's sleep trigger book. Sleep trigger you ask. Yes - I've given it a name because that's exactly what it does. A book that Eric associates with sleep. Ours is The Gruffalo. You could be reading him anything beforehand and he would be jumping on the bed, throwing everything out the cot or being a fusspot, but as soon as he hears The Gruffalo that's it, he snuggles down, cuddles his teddy (Mr Fox) and gets ready to nod off. 

For a child who can sometimes be an absolute nightmare to get to sleep this little routine is one that really works for us. Of course there will be the odd occasion where nothing will tempt Eric to sleep but you just have to accept that. But ultimately if you get your timings right, there's nothing bothering him and you stay calm you are on to a winner and have at least an hour and a half for a drink and a snack, to catch up on your favourite TV show, to get some housework done or to have a nap. 

And that makes it all worth it!

Images: Rachel Clarke Photography

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