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by Karen Legge

When The Lunchtime Nap Begins To Fade

Certain things keep me sane: chocolate, running, shite reality TV and lunchtime naps.

As a mum desperately trying to ride the wave of toddler tantrums, the latter is my saviour. That blissful moment when he nods off after a 5:08am start – it’s like the weight of the world is lifted. By midday, it feels like you’ve done a full day already, what with the bartering, cajoling, begging and general FFS’ing under your breath.

It used to be easy. A little cuddle or a walk around the block in the buggy would be enough to send him in to a deep and precious sleep. Or there were those times where he would just lie down on the living room carpet of his own accord and nod off. He’d be scooped up gently and placed in his cot, or just left snuggled in his pram and that’d be it; three rapturous hours of unadulterated me-time. A light lunch, a hot coffee or a cheeky little doze whilst catching up with ‘Love Island’ was mine, all mine!

If only it were that easy now. Now it’s a battle of wills to get him to sleep and when he does, we are down to the 1-2 hour mark. Fifty percent of this seems to be spent with me in the car waiting for the optimum moment to attempt car-house transfer in the knowledge that if he wakes – that’s nap time screwed. Hence sitting there for forty-five minutes ensures that although my bladder is normally fit to burst and I need defrosting, I’ve at least been able to catch up on the ‘gram or the book of face.

Although it is more of a challenge to get him to sleep now, I’ve still got a few tricks in my arsenal. Well – two. There’s the sleep drive – you will all be familiar with this if you’ve followed my ‘Stuck in a Car with a Toddler’ adventures. Such fun! But what I’ve not shared with you is my secret weapon. It comes to you courtesy of Amazon Prime and a car-based discovery.

Unhappiness at car journeys was an issue solved by a headrest i-pad holder. I established on a long drive back from Devon that, even though I left at his bedtime to drive the five hours back to Essex, playing Thomas the Tank Engine was just too stimulating for him. How could he sleep when there was a chance Thomas wouldn’t be a really useful engine? He was awake the entire journey but lost his mind if I turned it off. Somehow though, I stumbled across the most immense series that seems to have a soporific effect more potent than Nytol (may I add, this is not something I have tried with Wrigglet).

Lots and Lots of Really Big Trains. This, my friends, is my nap lifeline. It is basically footage of trains – really, really big trains – chugging around America. With musical accompaniment. That’s it. I could give you an avid description of steam railroads through Colorado or diesels around the multiplex or sing you some of the classic tracks such as “Clickety Clack” or “Casey Jones.” But I won’t. I’ll just tell you that these free, hour-long gems, knock him out for the count and normally within ten minutes. Hell, the rhythmic rattle of the railway normally has me nodding off too. Young, old, boy or girl – I defy you not to give in to the sleep power of the big trains!

I’m not ready to lose nap time. We spend pretty much every waking hour together as it is (bar my Freedom Fridays) and whilst I love his bones, I need one tiny portion of my day where I’m not having a Mexican stand-off over relinquishing more Paw Patrol stickers to decorate my soft-furnishings. Please Harry, I beg you, keep your nap time till at least your third birthday. I’m not one for bribery but if you do, you can have all the things… all of them!

Come on – don’t keep them to yourself. I can feel him beginning to cotton on that Big Train time means sleep. What other tricks of the parenting trade do you have up your sleeves. Please share them – for the sake of my sanity and the sanity of all parents who JUST NEED SLEEP! G’night xx

Written by Karen Legge for her blog, The Unyoung Mum.

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