I’m afraid to say it in case I’m wrong lads. I’ll whisper it in case he hears. Toddler man has selective hearing these days.
I THINK WE ARE DONE WITH NAPS.
Like for reals. We had a false alarm a few months ago but this would appear to be the real deal. I need to talk about how happy I am with this revelation.
But first a cute and unrelated photo of my son’s feet. Because they are adorable and bring me an unnatural amount of joy daily. Like how perfect are they?
Let me start by talking about naps in general. They are the very thing that, in the early days, help you find yourself again. I know that sounds so melodramatic but it’s true. I remember when little man was only a newborn. It was during his naps that I was able to have a shower, enjoy a cup of coffee with two hands and get my shit together.
Then came the glorious toddler naps. 2-3 hours in the middle of the afternoon. Busy toddler days where your legs physically ache come lunch-time. You are mentally and physically exhausted and that is the very reason why the long nap is so incredibly wonderful. Sometimes it’s genuinely exciting to simply have the time to do some bits around the house. A decent amount of time to get on top of things. It makes the following days more pleasant in general because you are not living in utter chaos. Then comes the days where you simply give yourself permission to sit on your bum for a few hours. I particularly used to love catching up on blogs, watching a bit of TV and making myself a nice plate of lunch. I loved not having to talk or do anything. It really recharged my batteries and just helped me take a breath for a second. Fabulous.
Then the naps get shorter. You enter this weird stage where you have to physically cut the naps shorter. Well, you have to make a choice I suppose. You can enjoy the long nap during the day and expect a difficult night. Or you can cut the nap short and have a better night. You have to choose your battles. We realised recently that the little man needed a forty minute nap to take the edge off the afternoon. Without it he was a bag of cats all day and nighttime sleep was still woahful. If the nap was short and came to an end by 1pm we were in the clear.
Friends of mine had been telling me their own nap tales. Some of their little ones stopped napping as young as fifteen months and others napped until they were four years old. I started to realize once again that every child is different and you really can’t compare your child to another. We had found a routine that worked and it was going well.
Until it wasn’t. About a week ago we had a succession of awful nights once again. We had done nothing differently during the day. The naps were still short. Less than an hour and usually closer to the thirty minute mark. Always over by 1ish too. He wasn’t sleeping at night until about 10pm though. We were exhausted and I felt really under pressure work-wise because I would always have some work bits to do in the evening time.
Myself and the hubby were both thinking the same thing. Maybe the nap was naturally coming to an end. We knew he was never going to wake up one day and tell us that he had decided to pass on the day-time nap in favour of a good night’s sleep. We were always going to have to guide him. Manipulate things to make it all work. It felt like that time had come.
So we tried it. One day I just didn’t put him down for his nap. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t hard because it really was. The hours of 2-4 were particularly trying. He was clearly exhausted but the ship had sailed at that stage. I couldn’t face a 10pm bed-time and knew we were in it for the long haul. And so we put our coats on and walked to the shop. A leisurely stroll to Dunnes to get nappies, wipes and something nice for the little soldier. By the time we got home he was still tired but significantly happier to plod on. It was 4.30pm and nearly time to start preparing the dinner. We were on the home-stretch now.
We went in to the bedroom at 7.07pm that night and he was asleep by 7.11pm. It was DEADLY.
So that, in a nutshell, is what happened the day we decided to stop the nap. He didn’t nap, the day was a bit tricky and he slept great that night. It was 100% worth it. I can’t begin to explain how good it felt to not have the battle at bed-time. At 10pm when you are shattered beyond words it is so difficult to power through the low that comes with trying to help your child go to sleep. You feel as though you’ve nothing left to give. It feels so different now. Toddler days are busy and trying in so many ways so dealing with some extra tiredness and crankiness isn’t all that different. You kind of just have to be prepared for the inevitable dip in the afternoon. They still need a nap in the sense that they would fall asleep so easily. We all need nightime sleep more though. I need to work. Little man needs a proper night’s sleep. If I could have both I would gladly take it but this seems to be the natural way things have gone.
It’s been four days since our little experiment and I feel confident enough to say that he no longer naps. I have realized one important thing though and that is to accept that sometimes he will nap and sometimes his lovely early bed-time will be later. For example on Friday we went to Phoenix Park with my sister and her boyfriend. We walked for ages and little legs were very tired. It was unrealistic to expect that he wouldn’t sleep when we got back in the car. He closed his eyes for thirty minutes and there really was no way of stopping it. That night he went to bed at 9pm and really it wasn’t a big deal. There is a lot to be said for knowing what to expect. It’s the unexpected late sleep that hits you hard. The unexpected lack of sleep. It kicks you when you are down.
So there we have it. A little update on the nappenings. Or lack of I suppose. It’s the end of an era and also the end of driving anywhere after lunch-time. Another weird and wonderful phase of this parenting journey that we are lucky enough to be embarking on.
It’s 8.52pm and already I’ve had my cup of tea and something nice. I’ve written an article and caught up on emails. I’m now going to sit down and read my book for an hour. It’s a whole new world this no naps business. So far so good.