Family Fun Even When Your Toddler Refuses to Nap

Saturday afternoon, Kelsey's parents and sister's family of five joined us for Easter service at our church. And her parents stayed with us Saturday night. Which meant Sunday would be Funday with Nana and Papa for our little Roo. So, when it came time for them to leave, right at nap time, I hadn't yet realized how difficult the next few hours would be as a parent. (Total first world problems.)

Rooney woke up that morning as normal, although she had a full and leaking diaper that soaked her sleepsack with urine. Not the biggest deal; into the wash went her favorite sleepsack.

The forecast couldn't have been better! It was mid 60s before 9 AM and at about 09:30 we headed to the playground, and then back home to get Rooney's trike (she calls it her bike) that she's recently fallen in love with after weeks of being uninterested. So we walked around the block.

Photo Apr 20, 9 48 16 AM

The weather was more gorgeous by the minute, and we soaked up the beautiful Easter morning in our front lawn and made plans for lunch. Kelsey proclaimed that if we wanted to be practical, we could go to Hy-Vee (a local grocery store with a built-in restaurant), and if we wanted to be fun, we should go to The Cheesecake Factory.

Into the minivan we went and off to The Cheesecake Factory, where we had a great lunch and brought home tons of leftovers.

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Nap Time

The perfect storm was about to let loose as Nana and Papa said their goodbyes and nap time was at hand. Actually, it was a little later than normal, which might have had something to do with it...

Routines seem to keep the sanity in our house these days, and we were a bit off our game in that moment. In all the fun we were having that morning, we/I forgot to put her sleepsack in the dryer before we left for lunch.

I take the blame, because Kelsey usually does the laundry on Wednesdays, but I took it upon myself to start up a load that morning in an effort to help out. And despite the fact that we purchased a backup sleepsack once we knew how attached Rooney was to it, it's never made it's way into the routine. Rooney absolutely knows which sleepsack is which, even in the dark. She just feels it and says "other sleepsack!" Believe me, we tried this game before...

Trying to console her, we had her fairly calm and laid her down for her nap, which has been averaging 2-3 hours lately. Instead, we spent the next hour and a half fighting it. Finally caving, Kelsey brought her into our bedroom in hopes she would lay down in our bed. No such luck.

Kelsey was sticking to her guns about the bike ride we promised before nap. "We'll go for a bike ride after you take a nap." And Rooney was trying hard to convince her that we should go on a bike ride anyway.

The Decision

We could have stayed inside the rest of the afternoon and wasted the gorgeous day, or we could make the most of the great spring weather we've been so desperately waiting for.

I made the decision in a very "Jerry McGuire" way and proclaimed, "I'm going to run some errands, who's coming with me?" And then had to do some more convincing, because both girls in my house are cautious (and were eating cookies, evidence below) in making decisions. But I had been inside long enough, and if Rooney wasn't going to nap then we needed to be out and about doing something.

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And we weren't going on a bike ride, we might as well get some things done. We were off to the grocery store to return some cans. And if we didn't get out of the house, we may never have got this moment video taped...

[tentblogger-vimeo 92569390]

Then we were going to head to Costco to stock up for the week. They were closed... but right next door was Lowe's (also on my list of places I needed to go).

So, I pulled in at the last minute. We picked up some mulch and a new planter and headed home. I still wasn't sure I would get any help spreading the four giant bags of mulch that we picked up at the store, but I thought I would give it a try anyway.

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We got home and I asked Rooney if she wanted to help me. And boy, was she excited! We proceeded to freshen up our landscaping by spreading out the new mulch around our property (mainly around the trees). This might not seem like that big of a deal, but you should have heard the excitement in her voice. And not just Rooney's...

Photo Apr 20, 5 04 49 PM

Photo Apr 20, 5 04 59 PM

We had a routine going. Rooney and I would spread out the mulch, and after we were finished, Kelsey would water it down. And if you know Kelsey, it takes quite the effort to get her outside to help with yardwork. I think this might have been the second time in six years of homeownership that she's helped me. (The other was staining the deck, which she has declared she will never do again.)

And Rooney...I'm not sure I've seen her so excited. She had a blast helping me. I included her as much as possible.


  • picked up handfuls of mulch and threw it at the base of the tree.
  • carried the empty bags back to the garage to throw them away.
  • used her rake to help me spread out the mulch
  • had some fun with the hose. (Side note: Don't leave a toddler with sole possession of the garden hose.)

Photo Apr 20, 5 22 28 PM

Photo Apr 20, 5 21 54 PM

This story is getting long, so let's wrap it up. As we laid in bed that night, I mentioned how good it felt to be tired from working hard in the yard. And then I asked (because I was shocked), "Why do you think you had so much fun in the yard?"

To which Kelsey replied:

  1. The weather was perfect.
  2. I felt like I had a purpose: watering the mulch after you were done.
  3. I didn't have to get dirty.

It helps me to know for the next time I need help with something. Working shoulder to shoulder is my love language, but it's not Kelsey's, so it's really hard for her to do. She does it from time to time, but it's tough for her. I think it might be Rooney's love language too, judging by how much fun she had outside with me. Makes me wish she was a little older to help me finish the basement (I haven't been down there in almost two months).

Regardless, we etched a fabulous activity in our memories on Easter Sunday 2014. It brought great joy to all members of our family and we were moving as one to get some yard work done. My heart is full. I had no idea as I pulled into Lowe's that the afternoon would end that beautifully. Especially as it took Kelsey and I both to physically force a screaming toddler into her car seat in the Lowe's parking lot because she wasn't done pushing the shopping cart and jumping in puddles (evidence of no nap).

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That's the kind of life I want our family to live - working together, playing hard, and having fun along the way. If I could frame the experience all up into one photo, I'd hang it on the wall for sure. This post will have to do.

How was your Easter weekend? What family memories are etched in your memory?

P.S. Kelsey took almost all of these photos.