Toddler Batteries

Today was a really good day. You know why? Because I painted for three hours straight. It was dreamy. I love our new one-long-nap-a-day routine. It’s not like I’ve got Baby Bug on a rigid schedule, it’s more like I’ve got my expectations in line with her inner schedule. It took me a while to get here (and I’m sure I’m jinxing it by writing about it) but it sure is nice.

The trick to this new routine is to read Baby Bug’s low battery symbol correctly. When she starts getting cranky, her battery symbol is blinking. It’s a warning. But it doesn’t mean to put her down right that minute. It means I have about an hour left to go.

Toby hates this low battery stage. Baby Bug is cranky and cries at every little bump and scuff. If you take a crayon away from her, while she’s coloring a masterpiece on the wall, all hell will break lose. She’s just generally a crank to be around. But it isn’t worth putting her down yet because she will fight a nap like getting a tooth pulled. She’s just tired enough to be cranky and sour but not tired enough to think of sleep as something that will probably feel good.

Toby always asks me, “What’s wrong with her?” (as if I have some great motherly wisdom that knows all). I try to explain to him that her mood is directly related to where she is in her nap schedule. This is where I break out the graphs and charts…


When she first wakes up she’s a little grumpy because she wakes up slow. About half an hour later she’s the sweetest baby ever. She laughs and plays and smiles at everything. This happy fun stage lasts for about two to three hours. Around that fourth hour, she starts to be a pessimist.

Putting flash cards in a box suddenly become incredibly frustrating and the baby that used to “try, try again” now wails and throws the cards on the floor in disgust. She doesn’t want apple juice or orange juice and when you tell her that it is NOT cookie time, she’ll throw herself on the floor and bemoan the weight of the world. The fourth hour toddler is not a fun toddler. She’s a pain in the neck.

However, if you can wait out that fourth hour, the fifth hour is divine. She wants to cuddle. She wants to read stories and sit in your lap. She wants to sing and before I know it she’ll start fingering her pacifier and rolling around on her bed (she takes her nap on the futon—the crib days are gone). Two minutes later her eyes are closed and she’s fast asleep without a whimper of resistance. I can put up with an hour of pessimist baby for this.

Not every day but lately she’s been taking longer and longer naps. The other day she slept for four hours straight! I think she’s growing. Sometimes, I swear she’ll wake up looking taller. She’s getting to be such a big girl.

little miss picnic

This picture was taken half an hour after a two hour nap. You can almost see the fully charged green battery symbol on her forehead.


  • familymclean

    ha, ha, I so totally know what you are talking about. I had never thougth through the process step by step, but yup, you nailed it. Only I get 1-2 hrs max out of Kaitlyn. Ethan is another story.

    Oh, and Coralee’s baner is super cute, even looks like her. Great job!!

  • BeachMama

    I remember those days well. Since we no longer have naps, there is no recharge battery notice anymore. It is just go go go until bedtime, then crash. Which is good too. It is great that you are getting three hour naps now though, so much gets accomplished :).

  • DeeJay

    Be grateful! My girl (who is expecting her own girl) used to take a 20 minute nap and be just as recharged as her older brother who took the glorious 3 hour naps.

  • Angella

    I LOVE the one-nap stage. I’m trying not to wish the two-nap stage away, but ONE is wonderful. And? BB’s a doll in that last picture.

  • Bethany Actually

    Wow, you have really figured out her schedule! I don’t know if I could articulate Annalie’s inner schedule like that. I just don’t think about stuff like that, though I probably should.

    And I had to laugh at Toby’s, “What’s wrong with her?”

  • Writer Girl

    Your Baby Battery Charging Chart is perfection – you should look into selling it to a parenting magazine or website, because I know many new Moms who would love it! It’s the perfect analogy!

  • OMSH

    Yes, yes, yes, and yes.
    Mine would get so tired they’d put themselves to bed. No joke. Naps are important ’round these here parts.

  • Liane

    Great Toddler Behavior Analysis…fits my little one to a T right now. Although, there are days when the patterns fly right out the window. One of those low battery sensors would be nice for those days.

  • LVGurl

    Oh, your chart nails it! I cracked up over how three hours of bug’s “joy to be around” phase is while she’s sleeping.

    The road to one nap is rough, but as they extend that one nap… it’s… so… LOVELY!

    She’s so dang cute.

  • andrea

    That chart looks a lot like our day, although we still are on the two nap schedule. I love that the Nap is in the “joy to be around” category. What is it with lunch time that is now a disaster? I miss the days of relying on the high chair for 20 minutes of fun.

    She is adorable in the last picture. I am loving the side pony tail ; )

  • Mel

    This post is the funniest freaking thing I have seen in a long time! I have 4 of them, my youngest is nearly two, so I have seen A LOT!

  • Sleepynita

    It is totally on my blog now, I think you should actually go to Cafe Press and get little laminated cards of this chart made up for people to give to their families (you know like when they ask you “why is he so cranky”? you can just hand them the card). I already reviewed it with Dad! and it all makes sense to him now. Thanks a bunch!

  • ioi

    Where did you find little flip flops? I’ve been looking for a pair for Dolly, but I can’t seem to find anything smaller than a size 10 and even those are outrageously priced.