A baby sticking it's tongue out

Tantrums at Nap Time? You’re Not Alone

Tantrums, especially at nap time, are one of those things that we will all have to deal with at some point. Your usually sweet natured, happy little child suddenly turns into a screaming, kicking bundle of tears, doing everything they can to make it seem like you’ve just ruined their lives. Everyone around you stares, wondering what’s just happened. Meanwhile, you try to do the impossible and wrestle this little person into their pushchair, trying not to burst into tears yourself. I’ve always thought that we had a little way to go before we had to deal with tantrums, but this week we seem to have entered the terrible twos a year early!

A baby playing with a truck, surrounded by toys

Stay and play

It was a lovely sunny day for my day off work this week, so I decided to meet up with a friend and her 2 boys at a messy stay and play. The kids had a great time, running around and playing with the toys, while the adults sipped coffee and had a catch-up. Cupar was in his element pushing cars around and discovering all of the new toys to play with. We’d both been up early that day and Cupar was well past his usual nap time, but I didn’t think it would be too much of a problem.

After a couple of hours of playtime, the stay and play started to wind down and they began packing up. I thought that as we were all hungry, it would be a good time to go and get some lunch. I walked over to my smiley, happy little boy, picked him up and told him we were going to go and get something to eat. Much to my surprise, that plan didn’t go down too well at all… An epic meltdown followed which I wasn’t prepared for, and to be honest, didn’t really know how to deal with

Tantrums at nap time

Deciding that the best thing to do would be to just ignore it, I carried him over to his pushchair and tried to get him in. He wasn’t having any of it and started arching his back, twisting around and screaming louder and louder. I tried talking to him, tried tempting him with a rusk, tried giving him some juice, but nothing worked. He was not a happy bunny and he was going to let everyone know about it. I was on the verge of tears myself by this point and actually considered joining him in thrashing about on the floor. I was starting to panic a little bit by now too, thinking that I was never going to be able to leave the stay and play and would have to quietly move in.

Eventually, I admitted defeat and gave up on the pushchair. I was going to leave it where it was, but my friend’s son rushed over to help out and happily took it off my hands for me. I carried Cupar out through the doors while he was still screaming and trying everything he could to wriggle out of my arms. As we walked through the mall it felt like everybody was looking at us and I just wanted to turn round and shout, it’s just a tantrum. My friend helpfully suggested that feeding him might help. Cupar had calmed down a bit by this point, so I hot footed it to the nearest feeding room while the others tagged along behind us with the pushchair.

Feeding time

As soon as I got into the feeding room and locked the door I nearly burst into tears. I looked at my red faced little boy in my arms and felt so guilty that I’d ruined his playtime. I felt so sad that I’d dragged him away from something he’d been enjoying and ruined his day. As I fed him and stroked his face, I apologised over and over for upsetting him. I know it wasn’t my fault, I didn’t cause the tantrum and he wouldn’t hold it against me, but I felt so bad. He fell asleep almost straight away and I just sat there for a few minutes holding him. Tantrums at nap time were something that we hadn’t really encountered before, but as I sat there, I wondered if this was how things would always be when he’s over tired.

I gently picked him and carried him out to the awaiting pushchair. Me and my friend managed to get him in it without waking him up and we tucked him up with his blanket. We then walked up to Cosmos, got a table, wedged the pushchair with the sleeping Cupar in between us and got some long awaited food and tucked in, memories of the tantrum fading already.

A baby sleeping in a pushchair

All back to normal

Cupar got about an hours sleep and woke up halfway through lunch, which he was very happy about. He was then treated to chips, sausages, and beans which he was even more happy about, and had fun trying different bits from our plates. After lunch, we decided to go to the library where the boys played with toys, read books and chased each other about, while me and my friend sat down exhausted and watched them play. It was lovely to see Cupar back to his usual happy self, and he even came up to me and gave me a big hug. I borrowed 3 new books for him to read at home, and this time when he got in the pushchair, there were no problems at all, and he happily watched the world go by as we walked home.

Tantrums, especially at nap time, are always going to be a part of parenting, so I’ve been thinking about ways to try and make them easier to deal with.

Things I’ve learned from the tantrum experience

  • Try not to get too stressed out. As hard as that is, it’s not going to help anyone if you’re as stressed out as they are.
  • Try to put yourself in their position. Are they hungry, thirsty, sleepy or just plain frustrated? Babies and toddlers aren’t good at communicating how they feel, so if we can figure out what’s wrong, it might help to deal with the tantrum.
  • Don’t worry about what other people think. Chances are they’re not even looking at you, but if they are, let them tut and stare. They probably don’t have kids themselves!
  • Babies and toddlers don’t understand that they can’t keep playing for another hour, or that they need to have a nap and recharge their batteries. Tantrums are just their way of communicating their frustrations.
  • To avoid the tantrums, try and follow the usual nap times when you’re out and about so that they don’t get too tired, as hard as that may be!
A baby playing with a truck, surrounded by toys

With the first tantrum out of the way, I feel a bit better equipped to deal with it if it happens again. Though I’m hoping it won’t do for a little while yet!

The Ordinary Moments

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