I don’t know about the rest of the worlds parenting population but I do know for myself and my husband, the kids nap routines have consistently ruled our lives.
I mean, we’ve done it all.
- Hastily writing polite letters to the postman to ‘Back the f*ck off” when I forgot my ASOS parcel arrived right over friggin’ nap time.
- Mastering the ‘Tip Toe Toddle’ whilst cursing the squeaky floor boards we’d never even noticed pre-kid.
- Searching Amazon Prime for a next day delivery on WD40 which was applied on anything that remotely looked like a door hinge.
- Taking the incessantly barking dog to ‘the farm’ has crossed our mind on countless occasions.
- Explaining to non-parents the importance of naps on our sanity and how dangerous a child can be if said nap is not taken. The repercussions of ‘they’ll be fine’ are just not understood, ever.
- Finally investing in black out blinds after realizing those ‘Gro-anywhere’ blinds just didn’t cut it, nor did tin foil or bloody bin bags.
- Facing that fear when committing to a drive after 3pm to be faced with the dreaded DANGER NAP.
- 4pm. Witching hour, the hour where all rules do not apply, especially when there’s been no naps. Chocolate you want chocolate? YES, take what you want. Take it ALL. There’s the snack cupboard, GO!
- Lastly acceptance, no feet up and hot tea today buddy. There’s always tomorrow.
Something awful has happened. Not the awful, like the dogs dropped dead awful. I mean the dog just ate the bloody Nutella, what the f*ck do we do now awful.
Emily’s not so keen on nap time anymore. She doesn’t want to close those bloody gorgeous blue eyes anymore – not whilst the sun is shining. OH NO, that would mean missing something. Like, oh I don’t know – dunking soggy digestives in mum’s sacred god damn caffeinated, eye opening tea.
Quite frankly we learned very early doors that our children became little f*ckers when there was any sign of sleep deprivation. If they weren’t tired, they were wonderful, nose picking little joys. Our kids are pretty straight forward that way. It was a no brainer for us – sleep was the key. There was no point skipping a nap to go to the shops or do something ‘nice’ if it included having a miniature gremlin in tow. We weren’t missing days out if days out meant wrestling and ‘piggy backing’ all day. So, I became a tea drinking, PJ wearing hermit. Which, for the most part suits us anyway. We like to keep life slow and simplistic.
Both our kids started sleeping through the night around 5 months old, one was bottle fed and one was breast fed. Technique, nature, nurture or luck, I don’t know. It just fell that way for us. We’d found a happy medium between sitting back and letting the kids find their own routines and then working on them to fit us all.
Our eldest was always tricky with her naps though, she’d become accustomed to pram walks and outdoor sleeps being a summer baby, so a sleep in her cot throughout the day was absof*ckinlutely not on the cards. Instead, we opted for figure of eight walks with her pram in the kitchen on those long cold winter days. Nothing can get a mother twitching quite like her fiftieth pram lap in twenty minutes – in her own damn house.
“Put yourself at the top of your to-do list every single day and the rest will fall into place.”
When Molly dropped the morning nap and we were rolling on a 2 hour sleepathon in the afternoon. It was still delightful, in fact maybe even more enjoyable than the two naps because our days were no longer ruled by two FIGHTS for a sleep. Nope, it was a mutual agreement that the afternoon was snooze time, she was always ready for it. Then it happened. Around 2 months before I was due to have her sister. GREAT timing. Molly no longer wanted a nap of any form but OH did I need her to, OH did she still need to.
A lot of parents think that a decrease of day time naps means they’ll sleep better at nights but with our kids, it was apparent if they didn’t get the ‘down time’ during the day – they were buzzing by bedtime. A busy day did not mean easy beds, it never has. It happens to us adults all the time, when we’re flat out all day and cannot wait to get into bed, only to discover our minds won’t let us. Well, that was Molly.
Just before her sister was born, in the midst of yet another house move. Our reliable little sleeper had a problem napping and then we faced a problem getting her to sleep at nights. After her sister was born, she began getting night terrors around 2 years of age and she was so needy with all the changes and very insecure. This is where we chose to let her sleep with us pretty much as soon as our newborn. Emily went into her cot and own room at 5 months. The kids had a small age gap of 22months, so Molly was still too young to be told or understand sentences to explain a house move or what the new real life baby was still doing stuck on her mummy’s jagungas every second of the day. So our choices were guilt ridden. Now Molly sleeps with us after 11pm every single night. Now mum, doesn’t sleep. It just all kind of cocked up.
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
So, I suppose you can understand my anxiety with this second round of ‘nap purgatory’ I’m faced with. I don’t want this to effect Emily’s flawless bedtime routine. I don’t want four in the bloody bed. I also know right now, she’s not ready to cut them out – even if she thinks she is. She’s a firecracker without her sleep and admittedly, unlike our first – I’m a bit scared of her wrath. I also know that if she does cut the naps out, it’s huge changes yet again.
Emily’s nap is the only time I get alone. I have a child or two on me every minute of the day and when I don’t, my dogs or my poor husband wants me. Then it’s the nightshift with Molly’s feet, hands and midnight pee, wee dramas. It’s a beautiful predicament to have, yet I think I am entitled to feel a little ‘over used.’ I mean, picture it like a mobile phone. I need a bloody charge at some point or I’ll black out. Her naps? That’s it. That’s my charging time. That’s my darned docking station and I’m currently in the process of watching it cease to exist. No, please NO.
“Your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have.”
It’s ultimate warning signs when you have a moment where you actually think your on a really good run, to the point your on schedule with everything. That’s usually a sign in parenthood when at least one of the kids is due their next big change. You have to be willing and ready for change at all times. There’s no slowing these crazy humans down, theres no pause or ‘Wait a minute til mum gets a freekin’ hang of this’.
The pattern I see emerging so frequently in this parenting journey is this; When I think I can’t do it, I am forced to do it. Then I realize I can do it, then I’m better than the day I was before. Soon enough I’m not so shocked by all these changes, now I don’t find them so tough. I am stronger than I believe I am. We all are.
The guilt has obviously set in too. I’ve been on autopilot for most of January so far. No sleep, no rest – it’s inevitable. They say cherish every moment with your kids, don’t wish away those consistent needs for hugs and 24 hour wants of affection because before you now it, they’re GONE. I say, “I never will” but I also say, “How can I fully enjoy that, be fully present if I’ve not given myself that love too?”
“Self-love is not selfish; you cannot truly love another until you know how to love yourself.”
With my first, when I had days of wishing Molly would sleep for three hours or dreaming we lived closer to family – hoping that for one day I could just kick back, get Netflix on and binge on high amounts of chocolate without worrying I had a life solely in my hands – I’d cry. I’d cry because I felt that those feelings made me ungrateful, they made me a bad mother for wanting some relief. Now, as a mummy with a whole new understanding of herself and to her life, I have become more self aware – not selfish. I am more aware than ever of what I need to be in order to be the best mother to my children. That includes some invaluable self love, some deserved ‘me time’. Some self compassion. It involves me telling that ugly ‘mum guilt’ to do one.
“You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.”
About the self love? That’s where I have learned to plan ahead. If we are to say goodbye to these naps shortly then I need to find an alternative to those moments of peace. I need a docking station and it seems the one I’m used to is about to burn out and explode but I’m not. I’ve been there done that and definetly do not want to do it again. Whether that means hubby takes on a new role when he comes home and I disappear a few hours a week into my office or we begin to consider another few hours of childcare so the evenings aren’t spent with us apart – we’ll do it. We know now that if I don’t allow myself to enjoy some time focusing solely on me, doing something that doesn’t involve my mothering responsibilities, then the whole family breaks down, the whole family feels it. We are family and that’s why it is so important to appreciate we all have needs that need met.
To conclude though. Here I am, second day wearing my yoga gear but not even the downward facing dog pose has been attempted. All the gear and no idea. Happy New 9th of January. How about for now Emily, for a little bit longer – you just go the f*ck the to sleep. Mummy is just not ready to join ‘The No Nap Club.’
Whilst your not even two years old, I reckon that’s an acceptable debate to be had between you and I. Let’s work it till your two at least.
Wish me luck.