The drama of the nap… (and other ways to constantly question your success as a mommy)
It is always something. It starts before they are born, with people asking you, “Should you be drinking that coffee?? The baby will never sleep!”. Once they are born, it only gets worse…. “You are going to give him some formula, right? He needs to eat!”….. “You gave him formula?? Do you know how awful that is??”… endless hours of dizzy lack of sleep, vague thoughts of scheduling, hopeless abandon and just being glad to get the diaper changed, even though he is still short an outfit.
Now, after endless streams of these things, it is the nap. My child does not sleep, in fact, he has taken particular delight in remaining awake for 24 hours in a row (as a newborn, no less), of refusing to nap since birth, and generally just not needing as much sleep as I do. I came to a hopeless acceptance of this fact after 4 months of trying everything, going crazy trying to get him to sleep. I just let him sleep when he will, I never counted on him sleeping, and we all lived a resigned but low-stress life.
Toddlers, however, are odd creatures. They somehow DO need naps, regardless of their previous performance in the “breaking all records for lack of sleep” category. Yet they refuse to admit this fact, and in fact, just get more and more wound up, and even naughtier if that is possible, as their need for sleep grows.
Now if I had a giant crib, I could perhaps put him in there and leave him to fall asleep. However, he has mastered all escape routes, so the crib is no more, leaving me with nothing but a mattress on the floor, a room stripped of all furniture, and a prayer for the integrity of my walls after being bashed by all toys in the room. Sounds of toddler rage echo to my downstairs neighbors (who probably think we house elephants up here) and make me fear what damage he will wreak upon my walls while protesting the nap.
So, I try a whole routine. Something that has never worked, something that I have never been able to carry out, being an unscheduled person myself. The rocking, the books, the dim lighting, the cuddling, a set time each day. The child taunts these efforts, as they only serve to give him warning of the impending doom and rile him up further.
My solution? Wait until he seems tired, then sneak his precious animals into his room, shut the blinds, and otherwise prepare. As he toddles past his room in search of new destruction, I grab him and lay him down, and quickly run out of the room. If I catch him just right, this results in only a small span of baby rage, and then relative calm. This is my success of the day.