Tackling the unexpected nap with toddlers can be tricky!
If you have read anything I have written, you will know that I am all about getting little ones to sleep and for them to sleep well. But sometimes, even when you have a handle on a daytime pattern that works for you in terms of naps and non-chaotic bedtimes, your little one goes and nods off AT THE WRONG TIME! What should you do? If you are in the car and the sleep fairy unexpectedly strikes, what can you do?
I wrote this a few years back inspired by my then 3.5 year old niece. She no longer had a daytime nap at this stage. Naps were nipped in the bud the moment she started protesting at bedtime and in general, she managed to get through the day without falling asleep!
But one day, after a marathon visit to the zoo, she was travelling home in the car with her Dad. He was well aware that he would be in big trouble with “the boss” (my sister/his wife) if he let her sleep so he started to call out to her in the manner you would call a puppy – making clicking noises and saying “Here boy, Here boy”! So insulted that he called her a “boy”, she raged at him the whole way home instead of nodding off! It appears that the fact that he was treating her like a dog went unnoticed!
But, apart from personally insulting your kids in order to keep them awake, what are the alternatives? Usually it’s a case of mastering the art of distraction.
Let it go
Just that. Do nothing. Let them sleep and deal with the consequences – probably a late bedtime but sure once in a blue moon, what’s the harm!
Singing songs and cranking up the radio might help if you are in the car and trying to keep your little ones awake. Get them to join in and distract them from their tiredness. It is definitely worth a shot. The relentless sounds of nursery rhymes and jingles will be worth it for a stress free and on-schedule bedtime!
Time for a feast
I have been known to have always carried a few boxes of raisins and a handful of breadsticks in my handbag. I may also have been known to throw them like confetti into the back seats in the hopes that they would land in the right place without me having to go foraging and drive at the same time! Feel free to replace raisins and breadsticks with whatever you like but I wouldn’t recommend a yogurt, for obvious reasons.
Older children can often be distracted by games while you drive. Not only might it keep them awake but it could also put an end to the inevitable squabbles, particularly on longer car journeys. We used to play “I spy” and “mini pinch” (if you see a mini, you pinch whoever is beside you!). Although I do not generally advocate harming eachother!
These ideas are not just for car journeys. Buggies are also treacherous places for stolen and unexpected naps, so just do what you gotta do!
What’s your go-to trick for keeping your kids awake?