Passionate About Boston
and the Moms Who Live Here

You Can Save Your Toddler’s Naps


It all started when we decided to get her to stop sucking her thumb. I don’t know why. We had a reason before, but I don’t remember it now. Life was so different back then.

If you’ve had a child who wanted to drop a nap before she was really ready to, you will intimately know the mind-shredding frustration of this transition.

“NO! This can’t be happening!” I would scream into my fists before calmly walking over to the 3-year-old and asking her to go back to bed. “You’ve only been lying down for 10 minutes.”

“But I’m not tired,” she says.

Oh, yeah? Tell that to the 13 meltdowns you’ll have between now and the time your father gets home. Please, please, get home…

I can’t duct tape her down. I can only promise so many new toys. There is another child sleeping peacefully in their shared room, so “quiet time” isn’t an option.

Cue the Mystery Mailman!

My amazing mother gave me the idea. She used it on me when I was young, because, as it turns out, getting out of bed runs in the family.

Get a shoe box. Let the child decorate it to her heart’s desire. Repeat after me:

“OK! So this is a little mailbox just for you! Every time you go to sleep, like naps and bedtime, if you stay in bed the WHOLE TIME, the Mystery Mailman will come to leave you a treat! But, if you even get up once, he will know and he won’t come to leave you a treat. We are trying it out today, and I’m so excited to see if you will earn a treat!”

Leave the mailbox in the front room, or somewhere outside the child’s bedroom, with easy access and visibility so you — I MEAN, the MAILMAN — won’t forget to give the treat after each nap/night.

Is it bribery? Maybe. But I feel better because it’s the Mystery Mailman doing it, not me. We also only leave very small treats (one jelly bean, for example). There has only been one night where she got up, and that was to ask us to close the window, so I don’t even think that counts. IT’S WORKING!

I have incredibly fond memories of waking up and running to the box to see if the Mystery Mailman had left me something. We are still using him for our daughter, but I’m not sure what we’ll do when it’s time to drop it. Some kind of phasing out and hiding the mailbox might work. But for now, I’m just happy that we have our naps back. I mean, ahem, HER naps back.

Has your child dropped a nap? Is he or she about to?? Let us know — what do YOU do?


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