4 Ways To Deal With Post-Nap Crabbiness

A strange thing happens to my adorable, sweet toddler after his afternoon nap. 

For reasons I have to yet to uncover, on some days, he goes to sleep a cute little man who blows me kisses from inside his crib, wrapped up in cozy blankets and with his favorite light-up frog tucked safely next to him and wakes up…

The crabbiest, grumpiest toddler you ever did see. 

I guess, in a way I can understand it. I mean, there have definitely been times in my life when I have taken a nap and woke up feeling worse and more groggy than I did before I went to sleep, but at the same time, a nap is a nap! It’s meant to be refreshing, right?

Well, whatever it is, it’s not always pretty in my house when the little guy awakens. And I’ve noticed it occur in my older kids too, although they have mostly outgrown the nap stage. (Sad to say…) And the post-nap crabbiness can last all the way to the bewitching hour of before dinner, when combined with hunger, makes for a not-so-pleasant time of getting dinner on the table while checking homework, packing lunches, answering emails, etc.

So what’s a busy mom to do? Here are four ways I deal with the post-nap crabbiness:


1. Give up. That’s right, a lot of days I just throw in my “productivity” towel for some snuggle time with my man. I usually find if I can “give up” and give him 30 minutes or so of solid attention, holding him or reading him a story and let him slowly wake up, he will be a lot happier for it. And on second thought, actually, we both are a lot happier for it.

2. A snack. When in doubt, go with a snack–that’s my parenting motto. Ok, not really; I’m not trying to start a childhood obesity movement, I promise. But a lot of times, kids just need a little nourishment to get them from naps to dinner, so try offering some fruit or veggies, crackers and cheese, or whip up a fresh smoothie as a special treat.

3. Have a dance party. Nothing shakes off the crabbiness of naps or the mid-afternoon doldrums faster than a dance party. I use this trick often, especially for myself, when I need a little pick me-up to keep going. (Hellooo pregnancy exhaustion.) And lucky for you–your kids won’t know that your Pandora station favorites are totally uncool.

4. Ignore it. I’m not proud of it, but some days, it’s a necessity. A few weeks ago, I simply had to get a few things done around the house, as I was leaving later in the day. Dinner in the crock pot, dishes done, some mail sent out, that sort of thing. And try as I might, I couldn’t get my son to be happy. So, he threw a tantrum while I kept busy in the kitchen. And wouldn’t you know it? A few minutes of him crying and the realization that mom wasn’t coming for him? Suddenly turned that frown upside down!

What’s your best trick for getting past the post-nap crabbiness? 


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