Friday, June 21, 2013

Napping, the saga continues

For a few months HP had fallen into a beautiful napping rhythm.  He went down at 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. like clockwork.  It was lovely.  After months of sleeping struggles and no set schedule, I relished each and every one of those naps.

It is premature to say those days are gone, but they are becoming less frequent.  Maybe the more accurate description is to say that we are in the process of finding a new napping normal as HP bounces between taking one long nap and two shorter naps a day.  He's not quite ready to only have one, but he has trouble taking two good naps.  Or so I thought.

HP has been taking longer to fall asleep before each nap, especially if we have not gotten out of the house after his first one.  Sometimes the culprit is digestive as he seems to be in the habit of waiting to poop until I put him down.  Once he pooped three times before finally falling asleep.  Three times.

On Wednesday he was having an exceptionally difficult time napping in the afternoon.  He was in this room for two hours, happily playing and talking to himself, but not sleeping.  I usually let him play for about fifteen to twenty minutes before I go in, put away his toys, make sure his diaper is clean, and lay him back down in his sleeping spot.  By the end of "nap time" I was frustrated--with him for not sleeping and with myself for not knowing what my child needed.

I felt awful that I had kept him in his room for so long with no nap, even though he had been perfectly content the whole time.  I kept (erroneously) thinking, "I know he's tired, surely he is about to fall asleep."  Each day for the past two weeks it had been taking him longer and longer to give in to sleep.  Usually he did fall asleep after a playing for a bit and being changed if needed.  This time was different, and I recognized that I needed to do two things.  First, I had to stop berating myself about the failed nap.  HP was not scarred by the experience.  I am a flawed human being doing the best to navigate the murky waters of parenting and I need to show myself a little grace.  Second, I had to adjust my approach to nap time to better meet HP's ever-changing needs.

Thursday was a new day with a new plan.  Instead of putting HP down at his normal afternoon time of 1:30, I waited.  I figured if he was going to happily play instead of sleeping, he might as well be out of his room.   At two o'clock, I started cleaning the kitchen while HP was in the living room.  He played independently for more than half an hour, which reinforced the fact that I had been misreading his cues by putting him down at his "normal" time.  Around three o'clock I laid him down in his room and he fell right asleep.  Success!

I have no illusions that I have found the key to perfect napping and have every expectation that the "plan" will change on a weekly/daily basis.  But right now, I feel like giving myself a high-five.  Too often, I keep doing what worked in the past even though it is clearly no longer working in the present.  It may have been obvious to everyone reading this that HP needed his nap pushed back, but to me?  It wasn't.  And figuring it out feels like one of those all-to-rare parenting moments where I know I am doing something right.

HP playing independently yesterday before his afternoon nap.


  1. Good job, mama! We're still trying to find that magic napping schedule too, now that things he's getting older and wants to be out and about more. He's all but dropped his morning nap, but might sleep for a while in the car, if we're out. I never know what our days will be like.

    1. HP is bouncing back and forth between one and two naps--it's so hard to know what each day will be like. I have found that our best days are when we get out in between his naps so he's really tired out. He's definitely teaching me flexibility!