Monday, August 22, 2016

Parenthood: Week 166 - Dropping A Nap

There’s a feeling of bliss when your little one locks into a routine. You know when their naps are and they go to sleep and wake-up around the same time. Life is predictable, parenthood seems manageable, birds sing more in tune and Donald Trump is more entertaining than depressing.

Than things start falling apart. Usually it’s centered around one of the most dreaded phrases in early parenthood: “dropping a nap.” When parents hear this phrase they are immediately are filled with a feeling of great sadness and foreboding.

Newborns pretty much sleep most of the time and as they grow, naps become formalize (for most babies). Whatever number of naps this is, they get set into a routine. As babies get older, they drop these naps to two, one and then eventually [shudder] the naps disappear altogether.

When children drop naps, it’s not something that happens overnight. It’s a transition that can take weeks. One day the baby has three naps, the next it’s two, two again, and when you think all is settled on two, the child goes back to taking three naps.

You may think, that this lack of naps is a good thing. If you’ve ever hung out with parents of babies and toddlers, they often center their entire schedule (and existence for that matter) around a nap schedule. This severely and significantly hampers and limits, social outings. On one level, the fewer the naps, the more freedom you have as a parent, however the downsides to dropping naps is significant.

One of the most ludicrous parenting suggestions is “nap when your baby naps.” This is a great idea as long as you don’t have to worry about laundry, cooking, work, bills, errands, and um . . . adulthood. Parents have to rally through their exhaustion and get tons of stuff done during their children’s nap times to maintain life and sanity.

Each nap that is dropped means less time to take care of essential things (like going to the bathroom).  If this lined up perfectly with the children’s growing independence, which requires less of parents undivided attention, we’d be set, but it doesn’t. A baby doesn’t drop a one and half hour nap and immediately gain the ability to play independently for that period of time. In reality, you maybe get ten more minutes of independent play, which is unpredictable and erratic.

Ollie is currently in the process of dropping his daily afternoon nap.  If he doesn't take an afternoon nap, he often falls asleep at some point, like in the car, and goes to bed easier.  However if he takes an early afternoon nap he's in a much better mood in the evening, easier to manage, but goes to bed later in the night.  Combine this with end of the summer and beginning of the school year madness and it's quite a challenge to manage.

I'm eager to get back to a routine, even if it only last a couple weeks.  Maybe he'll hang onto this one nap for a little bit longer and maybe he will drop the nap completely.

I'm getting tired just thinking about that possibility.

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