How to Handle Sleep on Sundays


Mar 27, 2024

When you have a baby, you don’t really imagine that you’ll stop going to church, pull away from community or even family events. Pretty soon you realize that these days can cause quite a disturbance in your baby’s schedule! And it’s okay to be protective over sleep…but it’s not okay to stop your life just because of a nap! 

When you have church, or your family events, Sundays can be a tricky day. So today I am sharing how we personally handle Sundays + nap schedules, how I suggest our Little Z’s families handle days like this…and HOW to get back on track afterwards!



Now when we’re talking about sleep on Sundays, we also need to preface this with I’m kind of talking about children who know how to sleep. If you have a little one who has no concept of self soothing strategies, you are feeling stressed out at bedtime, your child is having frequent night wakings… if naps are just an absolute battle, then we can’t realistically talk about making Sunday a schedule-free day. 

But if your child CAN do those things, we can shift things around and not get thrown off! Why? Because when your child knows how to sleep, it’s actually so freeing!! 

I know that seems counterintuitive – when you’re on a schedule, you’re free? Yes! (True story, that was me before I had kids, saying, “Oh, my children are going to be on my schedule and do what I want to do!!” Yeah, that was super naive!)

On Sundays, or on vacations, when you are a little bit lax, it’s not going to undo all of your progress. 

If your little one is not a good sleeper, you’re going to find it difficult to follow my guidelines. So if that’s you, I recommend checking out one of our Sleep Programs here and we can help make sleep a thing to begin with!



So let’s say your child has a consistent schedule and you know that every day, your little one goes down for two naps – wake up at 7, go down for a nap at 9:30, again at 2pm, and then bed at 7pm. You’ve got it down. 

Every day of the week is so predictable until Sunday, when maybe your church service starts at 9. So what in the world are you going to do? 

Well if you have a baby who is used to taking a nap at 9:30, what I would prefer you guys to do is actually go get some coffee beforehand and go for a little drive.

When we only had one daughter, and we had church service at 10, we used to do just this! We would head to Starbucks, I would let her nap in her car seat for a little bit, sip on our coffee as we drove to church, and then get her up. Then she’d play, play, play. 

Nap #1 was on the go, and short (maybe 20-30 minutes at most), which meant that she was pretty miserable by the time we went to pick her up. 

But the thing is, you guys, we’re going to have to get a little flexible with our morning schedule because when you have children, when you have a baby, this is not a free pass to just stop going to church or stop being connected to community. This is the time when you need it most. 

(I know, this is a little different because I’m getting a little into my faith here, but I really want you guys to not unplug from your community, just because you’ve had a baby!) 

If your church, like mine, starts at 10 and your child takes a nap at maybe 9 or 9:30, then go ahead and get them down for their nap even 20 to 30 minutes sooner than normal. 

This is possible because your child is usually more sleepy in the morning. I kind of joke that this is like a sleep hangover. Your child has slept 12 hours all night long, they wake up and an hour later, they’re rubbing their eyes and yawning and you’re like, how are you possibly tired?! It’s called sleep pressure. They are just feeling tired from their blissful night of sleep. 

Therefore, on Sunday, let’s use it to our advantage! Get them down just a little bit sooner. So if they normally go down for a nap at 9:30, and you have to leave the house at 9:45, go ahead and put them down at 9am. Allow them to just nap for 30-40 minutes, pick them up, change them, and go to church. 

You can shift their nap just a little bit to help you make it on time or get there in general, because let’s be honest, your child is probably not going to nap in the church nursery. I’m thinking about our own church nursery… it is not the environment where a baby could just go back there and fall asleep.

You’re just going to have to be flexible, and that’s okay.



So Nap #1 for us was on the go. We went and got coffee, we drove around for a little bit, we even would pick a friend up to go take to church so that we could just drive a little bit more, and so this way, we were able to get her a 25-30 minute nap. 

Sure, she was used to an hour and a half, and this was on the go. It wasn’t the same quality, but it still got us to church and it got her a little bit of energy.

Then we would come home at about 11:30 and we would get her down for her next nap at 1:00pm, even though it was normally at 2. (Yes, a whole hour early!!) 

But the thing is, because she knew that she needed 3 hours of total daytime sleep, sometimes that 2nd nap of the day was 2 ½ hours. It was amazing. I wish we had that back right now!! 

It was her way of catching back up and I can’t guarantee that for you. That is just one scenario, my personal scenario.



The other scenario we may be looking at is if you have a young baby, let’s say 0-5 months, sometimes even 6 months old. If you are able to wear them during the service, maybe you can get there a little early and hang out, walk around with baby and allow them to take that first nap on you… That’s a win as well!

It may be a short nap, maybe you walk around with them from 9:45 to 10:15, but when you bring them to the nursery, they’ve had a 30 minute little cat nap on you, and that gives them enough energy to at least have fun and enjoy being with the childcare workers for a little while!

So that’s another way you could just do a quick little on the go nap and a baby carrier at church and then bring them back there.



This is for you if you are a family who has a child with one nap and you are very accustomed to going out to lunch after church, or maybe you don’t go to church and you’re very accustomed to meeting your family or friends for brunch or lunch or something. 

Now when you have a child who needs to take a nap, it is okay to allow them to take a little bit of a cat nap on the way there and then go to brunch, go to lunch, come home, and put them down for a nap. You could definitely try that! That could work. 

On the other hand, some kids (like my youngest!) are very accustomed to being in their cribs. So they will not nap on the go. For us, we had to make plans around her naptime, which I was okay with because she was a happier kid when she took her nap. 

So let’s say we had an event at 1 or 1:30, then I would get her down at 12, only let her sleep for 45 minutes, get her up, she might take a little cat nap on the way there, and it was just a shorter nap day. 

Can you tell where I’m going with this? It’s just going to be flexible! It really, truly is okay, to bend the rules to shift our nap schedules.



At the end of the day, your child has probably had some short naps, some off time naps, so what I want you to do is get your little one down for bed just a bit sooner. It doesn’t have to be crazy! We’re not not looking at an hour early here. It could be 15 minutes or 30 minutes early, to help take the edge off.

So if we can get them down just a little bit sooner, maybe 6:30 instead of 7 if they’re on a 7-7 schedule. It doesn’t mean that they will get up at 6:30am… In fact, the later you push your child to stay awake, often, the earlier they will get up! (Has that happened to you?) 

Putting them down to bed earlier actually could help them sleep better and fuller and longer, which is awesome after an off day. So give them that gift of just getting down for bed a little bit sooner by 15-30 minutes and you don’t need to do too much more than that to help get them back on track.



The next day, Monday, whether they are back to daycare or whether you are staying at home with them… this is your hardcore day. This is strict Becca coming back in action! You’ve got to get back into it on Monday and here’s why. 

It takes 24 hours for your child to get back on track after an off day. So if Sunday is a little bit of a lax schedule day, on Monday, we’re back into it. Let’s get back into routine.



Last thing – I want you to also evaluate any opportunities that your child could nap in certain spaces. So maybe every Sunday you have a family lunch that you get together for? Well, if it’s at someone’s house, ask them if it’s okay for you to set your child up in a pack and play in a bathroom or a large closet. 

How freeing would that be? You could put your child down for a nap at someone else’s house and know that they sleep great. (Shameless plug for my favorite travel product and company, SlumberPod!) 

What a way to just use this every single week if you know that you are going to have an event and you could securely put your child into their pack and play with a SlumberPod on top and they sleep well.



As you can tell, Sunday is really just about finding what fits you best. Honestly, I could go through a bunch of different scenarios, but the biggest thing that you need to hear is that it’s okay.

It’s okay to have an off day. It’s okay to have an off schedule! It’s going to happen… and when sleep is a thing, that’s okay!



Do you have a child who knows how to sleep independently, and they’re in a routine, but you want to know how to adjust their day so that you can go to church (or brunch, or lunch, whatever!) on Sundays?

When sleep is a thing, adjusting for one day is not only possible, it’s TOTALLY okay!!

So, how can you make adjustments?

  1. If your child normally naps in the mornings, either start their nap early to make it to church (or brunch, etc.) on time. Then, start their afternoon nap early to help them still get the 3 hours of daytime sleep their bodies need!
  2. If your child normally naps once a day, in the afternoon, adjust their nap start time, give them a short nap, or a nap on the go. 
  3. If you have a baby who is a newborn or up to 5-6 months, put them in the carrier for a nap while you’re out and about!
  4. If you’ve given a short nap or adjusted nap times, bump the start of bedtime up about 15-30 minutes early to help them catch up on their lost sleep at night.
  5. Can you set up a pack ‘n’ play somewhere else and let your child sleep (maybe with a SlumberPod)!? Do it!

And remember, just get back on track on Monday! One day of a different schedule will not throw everything off when your child knows how to make sleep a thing!

If sleep ISN’T a thing for your family, click here to get started on our Sleep Programs so you can find freedom in a consistent schedule for your child who will learn how to sleep independently for naps and nights!




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