Monday, August 11, 2014

The end of the nap?

Most weeks, I love the rhythm of our life. It's slow, it's simple, and we've all been in a good place. But last week was rough. I mentally struggled to maintain my calm, easygoing demeanor. If I had to pick a theme for the week, it would have been: Parenting is hard.

Things that have made the week especially challenging:
  • HP decided to stop napping. He's doing fine with it; I am not.
  • Neil is busy at work and coming home later than usual. Normally he is at the house well before dinner time, which allows me to cook in peace while they hang out. So relaxing. This week, we've been lucky if he makes it home for dinner.
  • The Texas summer, which has been so mild and pleasant up until now, has begun in earnest. I always think I won't let the heat bother me, but it inevitably does.
Our days used to have five distinct phases: morning hang out time (reading books, eating breakfast, independent playtime for HP, chores for me), morning activity (park, swimming, museum, playdate, etc.), nap time (a blissful 2.5-3 hours!), afternoon hang out time (more books and independent play), and after dinner hangout time (usually Neil and HP playing in his room). Now nap time has been replaced with "rest time", is much shorter, and the whole day feels out of whack.

The new schedule suits HP just fine. He is on edge by the end of the night, but holds it together surprisingly well considering the lack of daytime sleep. It's not until we wash his hair and brush his teeth that the meltdowns start. Bonus: he is in bed by 6:30 or 6:45 on no-nap days and sleeps later in the mornings. So really, he's getting the same amount of sleep as before; he's just consolidating it at night instead of spreading it out to a nap. But it's still an adjustment.

After mentally fighting the change, I am trying to embrace the new normal. I am not completely convinced that naps are a thing of the past. A few weeks ago it seemed he was dropping his nap, then just as suddenly he started napping every day again. He is cutting his top two-year molars, so I am crossing my fingers that is the reason for the change. But at this point, it feels like a long shot and that I need to let go, admit that trying to force a nap on him is more about me than it is about him, and follow his lead.

I am a huge believer in young children needing a lot of sleep. I think there are far too many children who are not getting enough rest, either during the day or at night. I fully intended my child to be napping well into his fourth year of life. So of course, I would have the child who decides to drop his nap at age two. Parenting is nothing if not a crash course in humility.

It's a new week, and I am already planning strategies to make it better than the last. So far I've come up with:
  • Using the morning time to accomplish tasks that I normally would have done during his nap time.
  • Letting go of the expectation that I will have a long chunk in the afternoon to myself and accept that "rest time" is only an hour. Easier said than done.
  • Keeping the house straightened. When the house is a mess, everything feels more overwhelming and frustrating.
We'll see how it goes.

Update: HP is currently on a three-day streak of great naps, including taking one in the middle of me writing this post about him dropping his nap. Children are unpredictable.

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