Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The No-Nap Revolution

It's 2:00 P.M., and I feel like I'm slowly turning into a monster.

Here's what I want. I want Bug to play by himself for five minutes without asking me for help with something that I know he is perfectly capable of doing by himself. I want to be able to finish the day's laundry without my cat standing on my husband's half-folded shirt, every single time I have a half-folded shirt in front of me. I want Bug to be able to drink an entire glass of cow milk without spilling it on the carpet. I want to be able to do the dishes efficiently, all at once, without little hands trying to get involved. I want to go to the bathroom by myself. I want to be able to read an entire chapter of my book without interruption. I want to be able to drink an entire cup of tea... while it's still hot.

But it's 2:00 P.M., and none of those things have happened yet today, and none of them are likely to happen until sometime after 6:00 P.M. tonight. Today is a no-nap day. Today I will probably not get anything useful done, and by the time I do finally get some alone time I'll be so exhausted myself that I'll probably just end up going to bed within an hour or two of my toddler finally conking out for the night.

Welcome to the no-nap revolution.

Look at that glazed-over stare.

I feel like I often give off the impression that having a toddler is all hearts and sunshine and balloons and unicorns. I love to write about cooking with my son, or getting him involved in housework, or reading with him. I love talking about the beautiful, fun aspects of being a parent. If you read my blog or are my friend on Facebook or in real life, it might look like we have this wonderful, blissful life together, that parenting comes effortlessly to me, that I love every single second of every single day that I spend with my son. Sometimes, that's true. Most of the time, even. But sometimes I also just don't want to gunk up social media with the more negative, draining aspects of parenting.

And that's precisely what this is. One of the harder parts.

Bug has been slowly giving up his afternoon nap, and to be perfectly honest, it's making me a little crazy.

Smiling on the outside, crazy on the inside.

Naps have been an ever-evolving thing around here. When Bug was really little, he was a power napper, taking lots of naps every day, with each one being about a half hour long, maybe forty-five minutes on a good day. That eventually consolidated to the predictable two naps a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Then it was one nap a day, usually around noon or so.

It's important to know that with babies, there is no such thing as a "normal" sleep pattern that can be applied to every baby, everywhere. I know that's not what all the books written by "baby sleep experts" would have you believe, but based upon my own real-life experience and the experiences of every mother I've ever discussed baby sleep with (and believe me, we talk about it ALL THE TIME, since the entire world wants us to think that normal baby sleep is actually a problem that needs to be fixed), it's true. Babies sleep the way they need to sleep, the way their bodies need rest for their own optimal growth. It doesn't always fit nicely into our adult schedules, but that's just the way it is.

And every time you think you've figured out your own baby's current "schedule," he goes and changes it up on you.

You can't tell, but that tea hasn't been hot for a long time.

For a long time after we moved to our current apartment, Bug and I had gotten into a good nap groove. We could go out and do things in the morning, I could head home around lunchtime without him falling asleep in the car, then we'd eat, and then we'd lie down and nurse and he'd fall asleep. Usually that nap would be 2 or 3 hours long. It was glorious. I could read and enjoy a cup of tea. (Theoretically, anyway; usually it's way too hot in San Diego to enjoy tea in the afternoon.) I could get a little housework done. I could start dinner. I could read. I could take a bath.

The possibilities were endless, I tell you. Endless!

And then something shifted. I almost didn't notice it at first. It started with Bug not napping for a day. Just one day, but then he was back on schedule, and since that has happened in the past, it hardly seemed noteworthy. When Bug doesn't nap, he usually just ends up falling asleep earlier in the evening; he ultimately gets plenty of sleep, just divided up differently. And while it's hard on me, one day is certainly not the end of the world.

But it hasn't just been that one day. Bug started going for two or three days in a row without napping. Sometimes he'd only nap every other day. Sometimes he'd nap every day for a week and I'd think things were back to normal. Right now, we're down to one nap per week, sometimes two in a "good" week. It's been this way for months now. Don't get me wrong; we still try for a nap every single day. We read, we lie down, we have quiet time. Some days he falls asleep. Most days, he does not.

And this transition has been hard. It's hard for him, because his body could really still use that nap most days, so by the end of the day he's tired and slightly crabby and it's clear that he's not entirely in control of himself or his emotions. It's hard for me, because I need that break every day; I start running low on patience, and it takes everything I have to keep it from affecting my interactions with him. It's hard because we can't make any afternoon plans at all anymore, since he's just not reliable if he hasn't gotten a nap, and his naps are too unpredictable. His attention span gets shorter and shorter as the afternoon progresses, and he flits back and forth between puzzles and the train table and his coloring books and can't really focus on any one thing for any length of time. (Note that since he's only 3, his attention span is pretty short to begin with, but it's clear to me that his tiredness compounds that.) He melts down over otherwise inconsequential things like brushing his teeth or me flushing the toilet when he wanted to.

I love him, but I also wish he'd sleep.

I kind of think I'll actually have an easier time overall once he just completely gives up that nap. I can give up my hopes of an afternoon break, and stop feeling disappointed when he decides to skip the nap. His body can hopefully get used to going for such a long stretch of time without sleep every day, and maybe he'll not get cranky until later in the afternoon. Maybe we'll actually be able to get stuff done in the afternoons. Maybe we'll be able to go out for lunch with friends more often, or go to afternoon storytime at the library.

In the meantime, though, so long as this revolution is in process, things will continue to be a bit chaotic around here after lunch. So forgive me if I don't answer texts, or if I am only on Facebook in the mornings or late at night. Forgive me if I make even less plans to go out than I normally do.

Because the no-nap revolution is on. And until things settle down and become a bit more predictable again, we'll be staying at home a lot more. And I'll be trying not to turn into a impatient monster.


  1. Oh my does that sound familiar! But take heart, dear one, because it will pass!

    1. It will pass... it will pass.... it will pass...