Toddlers + sleep (a parenting/life update)

You know how you have those weeks when parenting seems easy easier because your kids are sleeping and eating and not whining (much) and things are falling into place and you almost think about having another kid because you finally have your own figured out?

Well, those moments last about 6 hours here. If even.

A life update: Toddlers + Sleep

The vacation version of ourselves take casual to a whole new level… (and this photo/caption is unrelated to this post except that it has our family in it, so I’m still going with it.)

We really thought we had Clara’s sleep figured out months/years ago. For a solid year she was going to bed at a reasonable hour and waking up at a reasonable hour and sleeping for up to three hours in the afternoon. It was glorious. (I mean, we still weren’t sleeping much because I was pregnant and had a newborn in that time… but at least one person in our house was well rested!)

Then Clara turned 2.5 years old and it all changed. She started staying up late. As in 11pm every single night, if not later. I tried shortening her naps, but this made her super cranky, and she still went to bed around 10pm, so it wasn’t worth it. Until recently, we’ve been surviving like this, but barely. With the kids not napping at the same time in the afternoon (if at all), I had no time to get anything done, plus with a toddler awake until our bedtime, I was staying up way too late (until 1am or 2am) to do the things I wanted to do. It was chaos. Not to mention that Isabelle would still wake up sometimes during the night (darn you, teeth!) and as early as 5am in the mornings.

So many sleep problems for these babes o’ ours.

If you haven’t tried sleep ‘training’ two kids at the same time… let me tell you, it isn’t fun.

Bottom line: after realizing that our family could not thrive with this late toddler bedtime, and seeking some opinions on the topic, I decided to drop Clara’s naps completely.

It has made bedtime easier but our days loooooong. I try to have her do quiet time while Isabelle is sleeping, but it’s not so quiet (to say the least). I no longer have any time to myself during the day, and sometimes I just need time to zone out, away from toddlers. It’s been rough. Plus, Clara sometimes emotionally falls apart at around 4pm because she just can’t handle not sleeping.

So, going forward we’re going to try realllly early bedtimes for both girls. Like, 6:30pm early. This seems crazy to me, but I think Clara needs a good 12-13 hours of sleep a night and I need to make sure I give her that time.

Of course, this means that I need to have dinner ready early and I’m sure you SAHMs know that life is chaos around the time dinner needs to get done and dads get home from work. (Or, SAHDs when the moms get home from work).

It’s a hard season over here.

And I know it’s just a season, but it’s hard. I’m optimistic that we’ll get this figured out, though.

I know some kids transition from one nap to zero naps in  just a few weeks, but we’ve been battling this for months and months. Maybe if I had really pushed her to skip a nap earlier, she would be adjusted by now – who knows.

The point is, I was a clueless mom in January and thought my kid was suddenly broken because of the late bedtime. I thought that when toddlers ‘dropped naps’ it was because they suddenly refused to take them – and the idea of forcing Clara to stop napping seemed crazy to me. She was so energized at night and running around and happy (at 11pm) that we just didn’t think to skip her nap and put her to bed early – because she was doing really well on her current schedule.

And the OT (occupational therapist) that I take Clara to suggested that it might be best for Clara if we continue doing a nap and accept the late bedtime. BUT, that doesn’t work for our family, so we’re attempting the next best thing. She said that some kids go through this transition for years where they need a nap during the day but push bedtime later and later. We cannot handle this cycle for years.

Something to think about: if you are a toddler mom and notice your kiddo is going to bed later and later and later, and still taking a nap, it may be because they’re ready to drop it. (Which is not a fun realization if you love naptime in your house for your own sanity.)

I am envious of all parents who have naturally easy sleeping babies/toddlers! It has been our most frustrating aspect of parenting by far!

Did you need to drop your toddlers’ naps or did they do it themselves?

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16 Responses to Toddlers + sleep (a parenting/life update)

  1. What does her bedtime routine look like? I’m sure you have a routine because it’s you, I’m just curious! 🙂 We’ve found that sticking to a very solid routine for Bensen makes a difference. The nights that his routine is out of whack are the nights when he’s in his room playing until 10 or later. (The nice thing is, he doesn’t open doors, so he just sits in there and plays until he puts himself to bed, most nights…)

    • Lisa says:

      I am HORRIBLE at routines. I don’t do them for myself and I don’t really do them for the girls! Well, that’s a lie. We do dinner, then bath (some nights), then put on pull-ups & pajamas, brush their teeth, read three books, turn on the sound machine & fan, pray, then put her into bed… and I’m trying to be as consistent with this as possible! For the past few months she has managed to derail and drag out this routine as much as possible so it would take up to 3 hours to get through. Brutal.

  2. That would be SO hard! I would say stay consistent with quiet time and eventually it’ll happen.

    • Lisa says:

      I’m trying so hard! I’m finding the more consistent I am with a schedule the easier it is! (But it’s REALLY hard for me to be scheduled like this!)

  3. Julie Hood says:

    I hate how the whole sleep thing changes all the time! Just when I think I’ve nailed down a workable routine for our toddler, he switches things up. Definitely teaching me to roll with the punches!

    • Lisa says:

      Exactly! As soon as we get good at this sleep routine, Isabelle will be ready to drop her first nap and we’ll be back struggling to find a schedule for her again!

  4. Heather says:

    I hope things settle down soon and she gets used to the lack of naps 🙁 I found those transitions hard with our kids too. We have done a 5pm supper and 6:30 pm bedtime for a couple of years now though and I find that the reason why it works is that I can control WHEN they go to bed (to an extent, they are pretty good with their routine and going to sleep) but I can’t control when they wake up (which is sometimes 5:30 and the latest ever would be 7am). Good luck with it all!! It’s definitely frustrating (and exhausting).

  5. Sarah Brooks says:

    I also have non sleepers. Three of them. My oldest two (5 and 3) finally are a bit more consistent with sleeping through the night, but my 9-month-old wakes like four times still. I feel for every parent out there who hasn’t slept in five years LOL!

    Definitely stick with the early bedtimes!!! That is my saving grace. Our kids all go to bed at 6:30pm. We try to start the routine at 6:15 and keep it super short. PJ’s (a bath is given at like 5pm so it’s out of the way, and we only bathe them like twice a week hahaha), story, brush teeth, cuddle/tuck in, bed. My middle one is the one who always needs something for a solid 30 minutes, but she’s asleep by 7pm most nights. Keep it quick and be strict!!!!! Now if only I could figure out how to get them to STAY asleep lol!!!

    • Lisa says:

      Hahaha YES! We’re having such an easy time getting both kids to sleep now, but Isabelle wakes up like three times per night (for just a few minutes if we go in and pat her back) and sometimes Clara will randomly wake up, but thankfully that’s getting more rare. It’s all just such a sh*t show over here but I agree that an early bedtime is SAVING MY SANITY. Plus, when the kids go to bed earlier, I go to bed earlier, too! More sleep for everyone!

      Thanks for the encouragement, I’m glad I’m not the only one struggling with toddler sleep!

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  7. Lisa C says:

    Hope you get this figured out! Why don’t kids get that sleep is good?

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