Is it wrong to wake my child from a sound sleep so can do what I want?
Momlogic's Andrea: I love to sleep . It's one of my favorite things to do -- I'm rarely pleased to be woken up. So why was I surprised the other day when my two-and-a-half-year-old went ballistic on me as I tried to wake her up from her nap to go meet a pal? My friend was meeting us for a hike, so we couldn't be late (and there's no cell phone reception in that area, so I couldn't reach her). But my little girl had no intention of experiencing the great outdoors that day. She screamed "Noooo! I don't want to go. I'm sleeping!!!" -- all the while crying hysterically. I felt terrible.
I didn't know what to do -- the truth was I REALLY WANTED TO GO ON A HIKE -- so I unsuccessfully tried to put her shoes and socks on. Finally I gave up and picked her up barefoot and walked out the door. She desperately called out "Daaaaddddy!!" (Luckily, my husband wasn't home to witness this meltdown.) Our neighbors probably thought I was abducting her -- I'm surprised no one called the cops. By the time I got her in the car, she was still crying and I could barely get her into her car seat. At that moment my cell phone rang. It was my friend, who she said she was late because there was traffic. I heaved a huge sigh of relief and told her we we weren't going to make it and that she should go on her own.
Slowly, I regained my sanity as I took my precious baby back inside. I apologized to her. I felt so badly for what I had done -- I forced my child to wake up to essentially do something I wanted to do with no regard for her feelings. Am I the worst mother in the world? Should I have just let her sleep?
I asked momlogic contributor and sleep expert Jill Spivack for her opinion. "Once in a while, parents have some things that they need to do that may briefly interfere with their child's sleep," she says. "While some children are more flexible than others, it's okay on occasion to either allow your child to sleep on the way to an event and then wake her, or to wake her after a brief nap at home."
Here are Spivack's tips:
- Give your child enough time to wake up from the haze she's in when awakened (maybe 10-15 minutes if possible) and don't stimulate her by talking a lot or rushing her out of the house.
- You may also need to pull bedtime up by 15-30 minutes on a day that her nap was disrupted.
- Expect that she may be a bit cranky when she misses her nap -- and try to make sure she's not going to be too overstimulated by the activity you're going to.
Have you ever forced your kid awake from an afternoon nap? Comment in the momlogic community.