Monday, January 11, 2010

As I mourn the passing of the nap...

Until today, I have been struggling to maintain my hold on something I consider to be essential to my sanity--the boys' afternoon nap. Yes, I am aware that C is only a few months shy of 5, and O is 2 and a half, and I should just count my blessings that they have napped this long, so & so's child stopped napping at 15 months, etc, etc, etc... Still, I was very much convinced that my boys needed naps, and frankly I needed the downtime too. When else could I check my e-mail, make phone calls without being interrupted by screaming every 2 seconds, and catch up on all the pending viewing on my DVR? I'm not ashamed to admit that I adore nap time!!

But lately, naps seem to have become more trouble than they're worth. O wants me to sit with him or carry him on my shoulder until he falls asleep (not at all practical when I spend the entire time wondering "What on earth is C doing downstairs that's making all that racket?"). The amount of effort I had to put into getting O to fall asleep just seemed to be growing and growing, and yet I persevered. After all, on the days O doesn't nap, he becomes more and more hyper and more and more clumsy, a combination that often ends up with him running around wildly until he falls and gets hurt (giving himself a bloody lip just as we were setting up our annual Christmas Eve family photo, among other things). C hasn't wanted to nap in months, but I talked him into an afternoon rest time "because your body needs rest to grow!" As soon as I told C he didn't have to actually fall asleep, he has been content to read books in his bed for an hour a day. I took the fact that he still fell asleep about 50% of the time as a sign that he still needed naps.

Yet, today I bid farewell to the regular afternoon nap. I am tired of the struggle, tired of the whining, tired of C being awake until 10pm on the days he does nap, and most of all, tired of the down-in-the-dumps feeling I get on those increasingly frequent days that the nap doesn't happen at all. It's time to reset my expectations. From now on I will look on an afternoon nap as a rare treat, rather than a goal. We'll no longer have an automatic afternoon nap. I am trying to set behavior standards. If the boys are too tired to play nicely and are falling apart, we'll still have an afternoon rest time. And we will not fill nap time with more screen time, as the boys get too much of that already.

I think we'll all be happier.

Or I'll lose my mind.

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