In the case of a failed nap, treat yourself kindly

When Joanne’s son was a toddler, she emailed me her take on “how to cope when baby doesn’t nap.” When I was in this phase, I often felt like I was spending the whole afternoon trying to make the nap happen, stewing in a power struggle. I had not yet discovered my philosophy of SURRENDER.

Joanne’s take on surrendering to the nap fail is a good one.

Learn to surrender when the nap fails

There are days when my little guy does not want to nap. Sometimes, this will happen a couple days in a row. On the days when I’m feeling stretched, I treat myself. Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Take wide-eyed baby and their favorite travel size toy and get in the car.
Step 2: Turn on some tunes. My suggestions: Norah Jones, Feist, David Gray…and depending on the album, maybe even Tom Petty. Keep it mellow and upbeat. (Omit Green Day and other rockers for this trip.)
Step 3: Let the adventure begin. After everyone is all buckled-up in car and the tunes are rolling, pick a starting destination that makes you happy. I like the Starbucks drive-thru on San Pablo Avenue in El Cerrito. Other drive-in places work just as well. The drive-in saves you from having to lug baby in and out of the car. Order coffee, tea, diet-decaf soda, or even water. Doesn’t matter, just pick something refreshing that you enjoy.
Step 4: Wash your vehicle in a drive-thru. The windows will be nice and shinny and you’ll feel sparkly clean too.
Step 5: Find a place to take in a view. I like to drive to the top of the hills and marvel at the sweeping view of the bay. Take a few deep breaths and feel your energy return.

More often than not, my little guy nods off to sleep in the midst of our travels. Not always. Even if he isn’t asleep when we get home, I feel recharged and more prepared for whatever challenges lay ahead for the rest of the day.

Don’t worry if your baby doesn’t transfer from the car to crib without waking up. Bring some reading material. Roll down the car windows, relax and read while he continues to catch his zzz’s.

Depending on your neighborhood, this little exercise is equally effective with a pair of good walking shoes and a comfy stroller. Take along headphones with upbeat music, grab a latte, and stroll around to all that places that make you feel good.

Be kind and gentle to yourself.

Wow – I’d love to collect tips for people who are dealing with a three-year old who doesn’t nap. How can we be kind and gentle to ourselves when a little elf keeps emerging from his bedroom every 30 seconds asking if “rest time” is over? Thoughts?

Related Rookie Mom activities (in the spirit of being kind to yourself even without a nap-skipper):

Thanks to my friend Joanne for sharing her wisdom. The photo is hers.