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Offering a “No Nap” Service

Offering a “No Nap” Service

Naptime is one of the hottest debate topics on every child care internet forums I have participated in. It’s one of the top ten discussions that has come up consistently thru the many years I have been providing care and counseling providers. At least once a month the subject works its way into our discussions. Check out this thread on
It has a whopping 20,000 plus views!!!!

The stickiest point of every thread about nap is the idea that providers are cruel to make kids take a nap if the child or parents, for any reason, doesn’t want the child to sleep. The older the child gets the more steadfast the theory becomes that the child may not need a nap and it’s an unfair practice to expect the child to “just lay there” when they clearly want to be up.

In the last decade the reasonable age of “no nap” has lowered all the way down to newborns. It used to be that a provider would have parents requesting the child stay up all day when they were getting close to Kindergarten age. Then the age dropped to four year olds, three year olds, two year olds, and one year olds Now it’s not unusual to have parents of young infants ask for some version of “no nap”.

I interviewed a Mom a few years ago that asked me to keep her nine month old up all day so she could put him to bed right when she got home in the evening. She also wanted him to stay asleep when she was getting ready for work in the morning. She wanted him to be tired enough that he would sleep the entire time he was gone from my home. She told me it was easier for her if he slept so that she could unwind after work. She said it’s too hard to get ready for work in the morning if he is up.

I’m not making this up. It really happened.

When she got to the part where she said it was easier to get ready in the morning when he was sleeping I just busted out laughing. I seriously thought I was getting punked. The idea that this Mom could verbalize that she didn’t want to care for her child when he was awake was hysterical to me. Taking care of your baby when he or she is awake is called parenting.

I interviewed this Mom because she was the sister of one of my precious Daycare Dads. He was a Iraqi war veteran and a fabulous Daddy. He was also quite a prankster. He knew I had a rule that I didn’t consider working for family of families I have enrolled. He really wanted his nephew here and begged me to reconsider.

I decided to at least interview his sister. When she got to the part where she told me her very young baby needed to be up nine straight hours I thought he had set me up to tease me.

Nope. She was for real. She had the notion that if she was paying me that she could decide what her child did here and she knew from having him home on the weekends that if she kept him up all day long he would pass out and sleep for twelve plus hours. She wanted her monies worth and she wanted him to be sleeping as much as possible when she had him.

When I realized she was serious I ended the interview. There really wasn’t any point in continuing discussing child care with her.

I told her that at his age he would have an hour to an hour and a half morning nap and at least a two and a half hour afternoon nap. She didn’t want that so the interview was done.

I also had one family with a nine month old baby who requested the baby just have a maximum of two twenty minute naps a day. I worked for them for three months. They believed the child was physically gifted because he crawled at a young age. They believed this was a sign that he would be an athlete like his Daddy. They wanted him up and free ranging all day long to get his future Olympian on. They allowed this at home on the weekend and he did just great. He also slept through the night and went to bed without a single fuss. Win win for them and the baby. Not so great for the group daycare setting.

The truth was the baby wasn’t gifted athletically. He was actually a fussy, thin, sickly baby who ate poorly and slept even worse. I have had that before so I knew he would adjust to my schedule and he did. By the end of the week he would be going down for naps just like the other kids and eating full bottles and a decent amount of food. He would come back to me on Monday exhausted, inconsolable, and often sick.

His parents didn’t even consider that the poor sleeping habits they were endorsing for his athletic future were harming him. They wanted him to be special and gifted. They received a lot of attention when he was a five month old for his early crawling and wanted to see the same results in him being an early walker. Having him “work out” all day long with just a couple of cat naps would give them a better chance of keeping his “advanced” status and the added bonus of an easy and early bedtime.

Now one would think these are extreme stories but it isn’t that uncommon now. Daycare providers all over the country are getting requests to keep kids up all day. There isn’t an age limit to the requests anymore. Infants napping is up for grabs just like the five year old who is going off to Kindergarten.

The requests come in all sorts of packaging but the net results are the same. The kid doesn’t sleep at all or has a very small amount of sleep during daycare hours. The parents may say things like “I don’t want the baby to cry it out” which when executed in the day care setting means “no nap” or napping only when being held.

The parents may ask for some version of less time napping or to have nap end at an early point in the afternoon. I’ve heard many providers venting about requests to have kids up from their afternoon nap as early as noon or one p.m.. Some parents go as far as popping in unannounced to the providers house during nap time to make sure their kid is up.

Over the years I realized that it was pointless to counsel parents regarding their child’s need for napping. When the parent has the notion that less sleep means an easier time when the kid is on their clock the notion of what the kid “needs” is so far down the list of priorities that no counseling I can come up with will change their minds. The discussion is usually about what the parent wants and not what the child needs.

Eventually my policy became “I don’t provide services to children who don’t need a full afternoon nap.” My afternoon nap is 2.5 hours and ends no later than 3:00 p.m..

When I’m interviewing families I let them know that this is my policy. When I set the fee structure it is based on this scheduled afternoon break. I let them know that any alteration of the nap schedule would result in higher fees or a termination of the contract. The only exception I make is for newborns who need feedings during nap and new children who enter the daycare who need a couple of weeks to adjust to our schedule.

This has worked perfectly. If altering or removing nap becomes something the parents want then I am not the right provider for their child. If they feel strongly about it they have the option to pay an additional “no nap” fee to pay for the staff time of my assistant. This would be an additional $25 per day. I haven’t had a single taker on that.

I don’t get into the business of talking to them about growth and development, sleep rest cycles, or how good deep sleep begets good deep sleep at home. I don’t try to convince them that their very young child needs rest in the middle of the day for proper brain development.

When a parent decides their child needs less sleep than what I offer then I accept their decision and do not attempt to sway it or negotiate it. It’s a hill I’m not willing to climb. I remind them that the fee we agreed upon includes a full afternoon nap and any alteration of that schedule must be paid for at the hourly rate charged by my staff assistant.

I decided many years ago that naptime was for me. I don’t do it for the best interest of the children. I do it for the best interest of me. I know myself and I know that I can’t do a twelve hour day without a substantial afternoon rest. It’s one of the foundational decisions I have made to insure “my” happiness day after day, month after month, year after year. If I want to be successful in this business I have to keep a pace I can sustain.

I don’t want to MAKE a child take a nap and I don’t want to do something every day that a child doesn’t need. If the parent doesn’t want the child to nap because they don’t need a nap then they either won’t fit into my program or they will be cared for by my helper during this time for an additional fee. Either way “I” get the break I need.

  1. Lori Murphy06-26-11

    Well said as usual Nan!

  2. Valerie06-27-11

    As a parent I realize the importance of naptime and encourage naps for my child, both at home and at daycare. I was with you through the entire article until the end. It’s a bit hypocritical, don’t you think, to say that parents want their kids to sleep because they don’t want to deal with their children, and then essentially say the same thing yourself?

    • torifees06-27-11

      The difference is the TIME we have the children. Parents wanting an early and easy bedtime are doing that when they just have a few hours with their child after care. Providers have kids in their home ten, twelve, fourteen hours a day and have mutliple children of multiple ages. BIG difference. I DON’T want to “deal” with young kids twelve hours straight. It’s too much. “I” need a break in the middle of that. If I had them for three hours and had one or two kids then no… I wouldn’t need a break from it.

    • Dominique06-29-11

      I think you missed the jist of this article. You seem more upset that a provider would admit needing a break from 10+ hours of childcare than the fact that there are plenty of parents out there that specifically use daycare services in a way where they do not care for their child during any waking hours. What is the world coming to when we crucify a provider for needing time for lunch, rest, clean up the daycare room, answer phone calls and emails, etc. and do not hold parents accountable for actually parenting.

  3. Stacey06-28-11

    I loved the article.

    I did want to point out that you had a digger at 1 o’clock in the photo… XDD

    Sorry, was too cute.

  4. Tisha07-04-11

    We have to have naps for ME and for kids. I am a home provider. There is only me, sometimes from 5:30am to 6pm. Some days I’ve had 5:30am to 9pm. 2 shifts when a parents schedule changed due to work. I needed a break!!

  5. WDMMOM07-05-11

    Everyone needs a break and deserves a break! It’s no different than working an 8 hour day…you get a morning break, an afternoon break and a lunch break. We get one break and often work a lot more hours in a day than the daycare parents.

    Also, by providers requesting that a nap be taken in their care is no different than a daycare mom or dad taking the day off and still taking their child to daycare. It means they don’t want to take care of them or fight them at nap time.

    Nap time is the best part of the day! They kids play and learn all morning long, get a nutritious lunch and are ready to dwindle down. By the time they wake up, they are ready for an afternoon snack and get their engines geared up again. What I’d give to have a day like that! LOL

  6. Paris07-06-11

    I have a mom that texts me right when I start laying down children and asks me to keep her just 2 year old daughter awake. I let her 4 1/2 year old son stay up during nap time because him I don’t even let my 3 year old daughter stay awake during naptime because they can’t handle it. This two year old comes crying and crabby in the morning how can you not see she needs a nap. So now she gets twice as emotional because she needs to stay up and starts screaming and wakes up all my other daycare kids and now I have five crabby 2 year olds! This is not right to subject everyone elses’s children to her crabby cries because her mom wants her to stay awake.

    • torifees07-06-11

      Paris, just tell her that she is welcome to come get her if she needs her to be up. You will just have her lay down till she gets there. You have to understand that there is no age limit for this request. Soon enough you will have parents of infants ask for a full ten hour day awake. I don’t provide service to children who don’t need a full afternoon nap. Doesn’t matter what age they are… if they don’t need a nap then they can’t be in my program. I don’t keep kids who don’t need the nap.

  7. Dominique07-08-11

    Paris, DONT let this mom talk you into keeping this child up all day! I can’t stand when parents want this type of care and yes, have even had parents suggest that a child as young as 6 months stay up all day (10 hour day here). The answer is always no. I would never do that to a child, its just plain cruel to them and everyone else who has to be around someone exhausted and crabby. A good part of the behavioral issues I have come across with my DC kids is from kids being exhausted or from them lacking basic nutrition.

  8. Michelle07-14-11

    My state has a regulation that the children must have a quiet time. If you lay the kid down and they fall asleep, are you supposed to wake them up???? I have never had a problem with parents popping in, so I put them on my schedule and sorry but tell the parents what they want to hear.

    • Kaye Kay07-28-11

      @Michelle I believe the best thing is to be honest with the parents, I don’t believe in telling anyone what they want to hear unless what they want to hear is the truth. Quality is better than Quantity because Quality will bring Quantity

  9. Dominique08-07-11

    Michelle, I wouldn’t volunteer information because that just opens up the discussion for the parents to possibly complain about. If the parent is not bringing anything up as a concern regarding naps then its a non-issue. Are they asking specifically if the kid napped?

  10. Gigi08-31-11

    Oh wow. I cannot believe that some parents would not let their kids nap! Naps are essential for growth – especially for kids less than a year old! My son is 4 year old, and I let him take a nap if I start to see him cranky in the afternoon.

    Thanks for this post! Really a great insight for parents out there.

  11. Rachel02-06-12

    Nice article! It’s sad that there are parents who only want to be around their children while they’re asleep.
    Have you ever had a toddler who won’t sleep? I’d love it if you’d come to my house and get my 14 month old to nap on your schedule! Even with regular bedtimes and waketimes she screams through an entire nap. Every. Day.

  12. Bernadette03-05-13

    I need help / suggestions with my situation:
    The family has 2 children with me so charging extra wouldn’t work as I would lose them probably. My daughter is recuperating and so I need the income badly.
    One of my parents wants their 3yr.old to only have a 30-45 min. nap and on weekends they dont give him any nap at all (they said w/ no repercussions)?
    The reason is: he wakes them up each night in the middle of the night and has trouble going down at night for bedtime.
    (We are a no sugar Daycare so he is not amped up, but at his house they eat sugar which he is very sensitive to (gets very hyper etc.). Which is why I think they don’t want him to nap at my daycare so he can go to sleep at night, since he is amped up.
    I watch him 9.5 hours, he is so ready for a good 2.5 hour nap that he asks to go down. Now, I am trying to keep him up while he sits in a playpen with toys, books, paper and crayons and still he sits there in the corner and tries to fall asleep.

    I hate being in this situation. Now, the peace and quiet of everyone resting is altered and I feel like quitting Daycare. They say its not the children its the parents and I truly believe that. I’m trying to not rock the boat but feel so frustrated now that my job has just got a little harder with my nerves more on edge.

    Any suggestions will be gratefully accepted!

    Thank you!

    • torifees03-06-13

      If you want the money and you believe the money will be taken away if you don’t comply then you need to do what you need to do to support your family. For me, if I had to keep even one kid up at naptime I would have to quit doing child care. I have nap time for ME not for the kids. Whatever issue the parent is having regarding bedtime isn’t anywhere near as important as my getting a big break mid day. The day is just too long and the job is too hard to not have a significant break mid day.

      Now they are asking you for a shortened nap. Very very soon they will ask you for NO nap. That’s the parental pattern for axing nap. They want him to drop dead Fred early and easy. If they can accomplish that by making changes on your clock then that is the easiest. Be prepared for a convo that says “even with the forty five minute nap he is getting up at night and won’t go to bed. We want him up all day”.

      • Bernadette03-06-13

        Hi Tori,
        Thank you very much for your quick reply!
        In their letter to me yesterday, the parents requested a short nap
        (30-45 min.) or no nap ideally.

        They also want a reduction in their tuition, $85. for
        when he’s at preschool next Fall 2 days a wk. for a little less than 3 hours each day. They considered 3 hours to be 1/2 of 9.5 hour day? I don’t reduce my fees at all when a child leaves for Preschool,or is not present for any reason, so this will be an interesting convo to say the least.
        Why is it that when a couple makes close to $400,000. per year and Daycare fees are tax deductible ~ they seem to go out of their way to make running a small home daycare so difficult?
        I love that you are a Napping Daycare and have it in your Rules!! ~ I am revising mine to include your clause for my next interviews. Thank you for all your wisdom ~ you inspire me and support all of us with your site!!

        • torifees03-06-13

          I wouldn’t discount for preschool because it makes your deal harder not easier. If you have to do an additional arrival and departure on the days the child goes to school it makes the day harder. Dealing with busses or additional transport arrangements is taxing on a home provider.

          If the child will just leave during nap time for afternoon preschool the DIRECT CARE hours (meaning hours the child is up and/or awake at your home) are the same. No discounts when the child just leaves for nap time.

          You don’t have to wait until the next parents come along. Tell the parents you have tried doing the shortened nap and it is making it so you can’t get the rest you need during the day. Tell them nap time is for YOU not the children and you must have the break.

  13. Bernadette03-07-13

    Hi Tori,

    I agree with you:

    ~ no discounts for any absences as I believe they are not paying for the hours their child attends my Daycare but for their “Spot” in my Daycare.
    ~ Arrivals and departures truly do make a difference in your day, it’s flow and subsequent stress level.

    The child unfortunately will attend Preschool in the morning, but I love your line that “the nap is for me not the children”!
    I did try the shortened nap with him, and he was comatose, crying and truly out of it for 1 hour, refused snack and I felt horrible to have done that to him per their request for a 30-45 min. nap. He was still “off” the next day, not himself, cranky etc. I have discontinued shortened naps and he is back to his cheery self. I just wish they didn’t give him so much sugar that he can’t go to bed at night peacefully the way he does at my Daycare!
    I am sending my reply email today, stating that I need a nap to do this job with patience and for my health and all the children nap at the same time!

    Do you have a book out yet? or an online Seminar?
    All Daycare providers in America and elsewhere would benefit from your well of knowledge and the personal power that you convey ~ empowering all of us!

    Thank you!

  14. Fran07-23-13

    Young children need 12 to 14 hours rest, this includes a mid afternoon nap. Mother nature doesn’t have it wrong. Parents need to PARENT! Too many times in my home daycare we’ve run into this problem. I have parents that drop their kids off at 6:00 AM, Pick them up at 6:00 PM and want them in bed sleeping by 8:00 PM. where’s the parent child interaction? They hardly have time to get them home, fed, and bathed before dropping them in the bed. I call it “Parenting of Convenience”. Having a child is a commitment. I worked outside the home the first 6 years of my oldest sons life. I was in the Navy for 12 years before starting a home daycare. He went to a sitter. But as soon as I got off work, I raced to the sitter to get him, not that I had too, I could have left him there till closing, but I wanted to be with my child. If I had shopping to do. He went with me. This new generation drives me crazy. It seems that children are down the list when it comes to priorities. I don’t think parents intentionally do this, but they need to wake up. These little ones grow up fast, these are precious years. They need to grab each and every moment.

  15. Cora01-16-18

    O.K…normally I wouldn’t bother to comment. But people are quoting how much sleep a child needs. Like many adults, children’s needs vary. My 4 year old sleeps 9 to 10 hours a night. I come from a family of 8 and know this is less than normal. But that works beautifully until you take away every quiet activity and force him to lay still for 2 1/2 hours. Because that number just became 7 1/2 hrs my child will sleep tonight. He goes to his room and entertains himself but it was a lot easier without a forced nap. Four is young to be up by yourself but I need more than a few hours of sleep…especially if I am sick, feverish and how dare I want to sleep more than 5 hours to get bed rest sick or simply to want one entire hour to myself as a mother. I personally would pay extra for someone who would do a quiet activity like read a book for the two hours. The main teacher gets a break and so do I. Had my son gotten into the lottery of a public VPK (Voluntary Kindgarden) he is not required to nap but I am paying out of pocket to have him up all night unnecessarily. My two cents.

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