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My Kid's Nap Interferes with My Life

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Is it wrong to wake my child from a sound sleep so can do what I want?

child sleeping

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.

next: Casey Update: Tipster Called 3x's in August
13 comments so far | Post a comment now
D December 18, 2008, 3:12 PM

I have a 16 month-old daughter that LOVES to sleep! Not only does she want to be in bed by 7 0’clock but also takes a 2 hour nap. I feel thankful that she has a regular sleep routine and is always well rested. However, family members give me a lot of trouble when i try to leave family functions early for bedtime. My advice- I would rather have a happy toddler then one who missed a nap or went to bed too late!

juls December 18, 2008, 3:27 PM

Ohh that reminds me of my son last nite..he took a nap so late in the afternoon..and he’s already been napping for 2 hours and I decided he needed to wake up cuz I know he will not sleep later on in the night..ohh boy was he cranky..but after a few snacks and watching some cartoons..he was fine..Sooo..I don’t think you were a bad mother for waking her up..just don’t get mad at her next time she decides to wake u up wen ur napping..haha.

Val December 18, 2008, 6:00 PM

My advice is not to feel bad. Sure this time you woke her up to keep a date, but what if there had been a family emergency or worse, a fire in your home. Your toddler wouldnve still been upset with you for waking her up either way. Bottom line is that your the mom and you know whats best. What you did didnt hurt her in any way, and had you gone hiking that day im sure she wouldve had a blast!

Jenny December 19, 2008, 10:37 AM

The only thing I can say is that I am totally jealous. My 4 year old gave up naps at 2 1/2….

McMomma66 December 19, 2008, 1:47 PM

This mom needs to be considerate of her child’s need for sleep. Plan ahead mom!!!

maeby December 19, 2008, 8:17 PM

oh please McMomma66, are we all supposed to plan our days around the time our kids MIGHT actually take their nap? I’m sure waking her up every now and then wont scar the child forever! Sometimes mom needs a hike!

is it wrong January 4, 2009, 2:16 PM

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Abha June 30, 2009, 9:03 AM

seriously? we have to feel mommy guilt over waking up our kids now?? geez! i think it alright to do it very now and then. and frankly she would have slept on her way again and if she liked the hike she would have had fun! how does one know without taking chances! :)

Tiffany December 26, 2009, 2:56 PM

I say they have to gt used to the parents having a schedule or a life.
There’s nothing you can do about it, just get her up whether she likes it or not and go! Don’t cancel your event just because she is a pain in the @$$.. You are giving in to her crying and wanting her way. Never Never Never do that, because then they will do the same thing again & again because they think they might be able to get their way again.. Versus, if you never give in and cancel your event, they will eventually learn to give up and not even try to throw a fit to get you to give in and give up.
Be tough and persistent (and consistent).

If you are inconsistent with them, they will get more harder as they get older.

Tiffany December 26, 2009, 3:00 PM

Don’t forget, you (the parent & adult) is the boss/the one in charge, not the child. So they are going to have to get used to having to go every where with the parents (when the parents need to go somewhere)… Because it’s a law.

Tiffany December 26, 2009, 3:05 PM

Oh & for all you “critical people”, kids are adaptable.

Amazed February 7, 2010, 12:25 PM

Can I just say SELFISH? Of course if there’s a dire emergency get her up and go. But to go on a hike? Please. Schedule your time better. Your kid needs a routine and sleep. I’m not saying let your kid run your life, but HELLO you have a KID now! You can’t go on acting like you did when you were childless. Or get a baby sitter if you’re that stuck on living your life like you want it w/o concern for how it impacts your kid.

Generic Viagra August 16, 2010, 6:13 AM

In my opinion, it is a lie.

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