Laurel's a light sleeper. Tiptoeing in socks on the carpeted floor in front of her room can cause her to wake up. Heck, me just thinking about her seems to wake her up. I have noticed that when Ian is away for the day, gallivanting with Grandma and Papa, and I'm downstairs sitting, trying to not move, not even breathe or bring Laurel to mind, she naps a lot longer. Instead of tired (cranky and screaming), she wakes up rested (happy and coos and babbles).
Ian can't always be away while Laurel takes her morning nap. And no, he won't take a morning siesta. Trust me, I've tried. I'm lucky he takes one in the afternoon. So the alternative is to teach him to play quietly during that time frame. I didn't think to do this with my two year old son, but my husband Paul showed me it was possible. The key is set up and consistency.
Set up involves making Ian aware that it is Laurel's nap time and of what is expected of him. Bending down to his eye level, I hold his sister in front of him and make him stop playing with his toys. "Ian, it's Laurel's nap time. Give her a kiss."
He kisses the top of her head.
"While Laurel sleeps, you need to play quietly. Make sure your toys don't make music or noise. If I hear music or noise, the toy goes away. Ian, what happens if I hear music or noise while Laurel is sleeping?"
"Toys go away," he usually responds.
Once he acknowledges his responsibilities and consequences, I take Laurel upstairs for her nap.
The second any unnecessary loud beeps, sirens, music, etc. reaches my ears, I walk over to Ian and dole out the consequence simpling stating, "Ian, you made this toy make noise, it goes away."
In the beginning days of this behavior modification, Ian would cry, scream and chase me down trying to get his beloved toy back. Seems contrary to the whole idea of making it quiet for Laurel to sleep, but if I want this to work, I dare not cave to his pleas. Instead, I suggest other engaging activities. I read books with him, get out play dough or puzzles, or show him how to play with his cars and trucks quietly. I don't spend Laurel's entire nap time playing with Ian, although sometimes I do for fun. Most times I am trying to get the endless to-do list done. I just spend a few moments redirecting and modeling appropriate, quiet play. Once he's absorbed in his task, off I go to
Later, when Laurel wakes up, you can literally see Ian's ears perk up. "Mama, Laurel's awake."
"Yes, Ian. You did a great job keeping quiet, didn't you?"
"Mama, I stay quiet while baby sleeping."
"Yes, you played quietly. Thank you," and I give him a high five and a hug.
That hug never lasts very long. He's ready to grab his toys and make some NOISE!
Another book recommendation:
On Ian's behalf, I recommend My Truck is Stuck by Kevin Lewis. It rhymes, it's repetitive, it has a dump truck, a car, a jeep, a moving van, a bus, a tow truck, and prairie dogs. Prairie dogs? Yes, prairie dogs! A dump truck haulin' a load of bones (of course bones, the characters are all dogs) gets stuck in a hole and requests the help of passing vehicles. Help, please, help, does anyone know, how to make my stuck truck go? Eventually, a tow truck comes to the rescue. Not told in the story, but through the illustrations, are the prairie dogs stealing bones from the back of the dump truck. It took a couple of readings before we noticed there was a story within the story. Absolutely fun to read. And read, and read, and read, you know how it goes with toddlers.