Monday, June 29, 2015

Giving up Naps - a reflection

I cling to nap time.  It is my buoy in the ocean of life.  Naps give peace. Quiet.  The time to think and reflect.  The opportunity to write or nap or make phone calls or pick up the toys.  Or just finally sit down.

But naptime is a stage - it doesn't last forever.  And here we are, at that point, and nap time has got to go.

My firstborn didn't need as much sleep as I thought he should.  I tried to make him conform to all the books, worried sick that his brain wouldn't develop optimally without the set amount of sleep.  My husband finally pointed it out that he just doesn't need as much sleep as I want him to get.

I finished my dissertation with him playing quietly in his crib.  He was 18 months when he stopped napping on a regular basis.  He never complained, so I would leave him in his crib to get 'quiet time' while I wrote.  Every now and again he would actually fall asleep, but I think now that was due to sheer boredom.  Even now he needs less sleep than do I.

My second and third-borns are champion sleepers.  Gracie still naps about once a week and she turns 8 this summer.  She was one of those kids who really did sleep through the night before she hit her 2 month birthday.  JR wasn't quite that good, but still these two don't complain about going to bed at night and often are the last ones up.  They seem to like sleep, beds, pillows, all of that lovely stuff.

And then we have my adventuresome spirit. I wrote about protecting her naps and flexibility a while back (read more here).  Anna now takes her nap and sleeps well, but then she is a awake until 10 at night.  We tuck the girls in at 730 and (much like Anthony) then she lays in bed.  Or gets up and lays out her clothes (and her sister's clothes) for the next day.  Or she looks at books.  Or she asks for more water only to then need to go to the bathroom again.  And again.  Then she tries on shoes.  Then she is hungry.  Sometimes she is quiet and we think she fell asleep, only to find her laying in bed with her feet up on the wall just thinking.  The kids don't have toys in their rooms so her entertainment options are pretty limited, but sometimes she even gets dressed for the next day.  Good grief.

So we have given up the nap. Quiet time instead of nap time.   Funny enough the kids are used to having to be quiet after lunch and they all still go about around whispering.  It isn't as peaceful but it sure makes for less bedtime drama!  The last few nights have been amazingly stress free.

(Photo Credit: Nellie Welter)
I think sometimes I am scared to get to the next chapter of my parenting life, of our family life.  I am scared about them starting school, or having a playdate, or a sleep over, or having a phone, or walking to a friends house alone, or babysitting, or driving, or dating, or any number of scary things.  The tricky thing about parenting is that just when you seem to figure out one age or stage, your child gets to growing again and you have to figure stuff out all over again.  And it doesn't seem to matter how many kids you have.  Each child challenges you in such a way that their experiences (and yours) with those milestones are unique.  And so each child shapes you, and challenges you, and helps you grow in faith and trust and expertise... but you are only an expert until the next challenge reveals to you just what a novice you are.  Perhaps when I am older and grayer I will feel like an expert, but I hope I will then be wise enough to see how much there is that I still have to learn.

Thanks for stopping by to think with me!
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