Napless in Takoma

At dinner on Sunday night, I made an announcement. I told June she’d be starting the Tracks class in a couple of weeks and asked if she remembered that we’d talked about how it meets in the afternoon so she will need to stop napping. She nodded. I told her I thought it was time to start practicing and instead of napping the next day, she’d have Quiet Time instead. I thought she might protest, but she took it remarkably well. In fact she didn’t even seem very interested in the conversation.

Now when I made a similar pronouncement to Noah at the same age, he was ecstatic because we’d been struggling over naps for some time. But June loves to nap; she asks to go to nap and usually falls asleep in less than five minutes. At least she did until Monday, when we went napless. I was expecting her to fall asleep during Quiet Time most days in the beginning and for her to be a teary, cranky mess when she didn’t. But five days in, it’s going pretty smoothly, not without challenges, but a lot better than what I was anticipating.

Monday after lunch June said, “Can I go to nap now?”

I replied, “We’re doing Quiet Time instead, remember?”

“Oh yeah,” she said casually. “But can I still have my pacifer?”

For the past year or so June has only been allowed her pacifier at naptime and bedtime. I’d considered this question and had decided ahead of time to say yes. I thought it would ease the transition.

She looked relieved and ran to get it. I spread some CDs out her bed for her inspection. They all still had the little stickers on the backs with the running times on them I’d affixed when Noah used to have Quiet Time. Quiet Time CDs must be at least a half an hour long. I still need to put stickers on all the kids’ CDs we’ve acquired since Noah started kindergarten and we discontinued Quiet Time. I’m not in a big rush, though, because June picked the same CD of fairy stories the first four days ( I have a feeling the Quiet Time CDs we have labeled may last for a long time.

I also provided June with some markers and drawing paper and she got right to work drawing as I turned on the CD. About twenty-five minutes later I peeked into the room. The drawing was on the floor and June was in bed, under her beloved Cinderella blanket, looking very sleepy. Okay, she’ll be asleep soon, I told myself, but a little later I heard her getting out of bed and at the end of the CD’s fifty-minute running time she trotted out of the room wanting to show me her picture. It was of someone wading in water, not surprising since Noah and June and I had spent the morning wading in the creek.

I’d been conflicted about what we should do in the afternoons this week. Should we stick close to home in case June was too tired for outings, or would outings keep her mind off the fact that she was tired? June’s general preference is to go, so I decided to give it a try. We took a walk and even though she was very slow on the way home, she remained cheerful. By dinnertime she was dragging, but she managed to stay up until I put her to bed around 7:40. It even took her fifteen minutes to fall asleep, faster than usual but I though she might go out instantly.

Tuesday things went pretty much the same way. In the morning Noah went over to Sasha’s to play and June went to a babysitter’s so I could get some work done on a writing project about a prebiotic and fiber supplement. Again, June went to Quiet Time shortly after lunch, drew and listened to the fairy CD and did not fall asleep. Again, I took her out of the house in the afternoon to help keep her awake. We went to Now and Then ( and bought her a tea set for an upcoming tea party she is hosting for two of her friends and then we went to the playground. She was exhausted by dinnertime and this time she fell asleep almost immediately after I put her to bed.

Beth and I were both surprised at how easy it seemed. “Maybe she was more ready than we thought,” Beth said.

Wednesday we had a packed schedule. In the morning Beth and I were leaving the kids with a sitter and meeting with the educational psychologist to discuss the results of Noah’s testing (more on that in another post). In the afternoon, Noah had a play date with twins who will be attending his new school. (Their mother had posted on a local listserv looking for play dates.) And in the evening, there was an ice cream social for the incoming fourth-graders at the Center. The original plan was for me to stay home with June while Beth and Noah attended the ice cream social, since it started at seven, which would keep June up much too late in the new scheme of things.

But while the kids were watching television after the play date and before dinner, I noticed June slumping against Noah on the couch. Her eyes were slowly, slowly closing. I wondered what to do. It was past five and a nap now could mean trouble getting to sleep at night. But on the other hand, it could also mean we could all attend the ice cream social. And if I woke her, how on earth would I keep her awake and cook dinner at the same time? Well, it turns out the answer was if I set off the fire alarm while frying tofu that would keep her up. But by that point she’d been conked out on the couch for forty-five minutes because I just didn’t have the heart to wake her.

So we all went to the ice cream social. I didn’t put her to bed until 9:00, her old bedtime, and she was up for a while but she didn’t come out of the room, so I considered it a success. After all, what she really needs to learn to do is to be reasonably alert from noon until three. A catnap in the late afternoon is not a disaster. Goodness knows, Noah had plenty after we officially terminated his nap.

Thursday we went to the library for Spanish Circle Time and then to the Co-op to pick up a few items for Sasha’s potluck end-of-the-summer pool party on Friday. In the afternoon June and I made an oatmeal cake with butterscotch frosting. June did not sleep either during Quiet Time or during Noah’s pre-dinner television hour. (I, however, went to my bedroom while June was in Quiet Time and Noah was reading The Magician’s Nephew and I lay down for my first nap since this experiment started. I found that with the door to the kids’ room closed and the door to our room closed and the fan on for white noise, I couldn’t hear her CD, even though she was in the next room. I managed to doze for a half-hour or so and found myself less likely to snap at the kids when they bickered after that. June’s not the only one who gets cranky without her nap.)

Shortly after dinner, around 6:30 June was sobbing because her diaper “wasn’t comfortable.” I made multiple, futile attempts to straighten it and eventually decided just to take her out of it and all her clothes and put her in the bath to see if that would improve her mood. Soon she was pretending to be a mermaid (her favorite bath time activity these days) playing with her duck, shark and fish friends. That lasted a long while. Once she was out of the bath and in pajamas and had eaten a slice of cake, it was around 7:20 and she said she wished she were in her “warm, soft bed.” Go ahead, I suggested. I wasn’t quite ready to put her to bed because I was engaged in Ten-Minute Tidy, a Thursday night tradition at our house. I bet you can guess what we do—we tidy, at least Beth, Noah and I do. June’s participation is optional. Often Ten-Minute Tidy actually last longer than ten minutes, but Noah’s only obligated to pitch in that long, thus the name. June didn’t help with the tidying, but she didn’t go to bed either. She lay down on her stomach on the kitchen floor to draw. Once I did get her into bed, around 8:00, she fell asleep almost instantly.

Friday morning we had a friend of Noah’s over, along with her mother and younger brother, who’s June’s age. Maxine stayed after her mom and brother had left so the big kids could finish their game of Monopoly. Toward the end of their hours-long game, I took June to her room for Quiet Time. She had finally tired of the fairy CD and wanted to try something different. She chose Pocketful of Stardust ( The very first thing she did was to climb in bed with Muffin, her stuffed monkey, (who she’s recently taken to calling her husband) and get under the covers. Between this and the lullabies on the CD, I thought she might sleep, but in a few minutes she was out of bed, dancing with Muffin. Later, I learned, they went on an ocean voyage. At any rate, she did not sleep. We attended an Open House at Noah’s school and a pool party at Sasha’s house and that kept her reasonably alert during the afternoon. We got home late and she’d tired herself out in the pool and on the trampoline so after a bath and dinner she was more than ready for bed. I think it took her less than a minute to fall asleep once I got her into bed at 7:55.

Not having to lay down with June for twenty minutes and then escort her back to her bed several times after leaving her is a big plus of the new routine in my book. If ending the nap consolidates her sleeping enough so that she starts sleeping through the night more often than her current average of 50% of the time, that would be an even bigger one. I am sorry to miss my more extended break in the middle of the day–that forty-five to fifty minutes goes by fast–but if it means unbroken sleep in the night, it might be a decent trade.