September 28, 2012

must respect the nap

Okay, I admit it. I'm a scheduler. Well... not in most of my life (oh wait, come to think about it I am when it comes to having fun). I'm not traditionally highly organized and have always enjoyed a certain amount of spontaneity. But no more. Enter the baby nap.

Shortly after the boy was born, we started fantasizing about him sleeping through the night. Wanna know a secret right off the bat? Sleeping "through the night" is qualified as a meager five hours. So here we were, pining for the day when we could get some real rest and I could stop feeling like a frequent-fueling gas station. So I did what I normally do when I set a goal: I read books. I picked a handful, each with its own philosophy and steps to take to ensure that magical sleepy baby wonderland. (oh yes, it's true that newborns sleep about 16 hours a day - just not all at once.) I quickly learned that sleep is absolutely critical to the health of a child, let alone an adult, and inadequate or poor quality sleep leads to cognitive development issues and a host of other things that I'd just as soon avoid if at all possible. Like every parent, I want to give my son the best chance at being the best person he can be and he probably won't be his best if he doesn't get enough sleep and I know how much I absolutely hate it when I lose sleep so of course it must be The Most Important Thing In The World to him. Gee. Sounds just slightly uh... dramatic... now that I write it down. Ha!

Anyway, one book was downright lackadaisical about it - let them sleep when they sleep and whatever you do, don't wake a sleeping baby - while another was regimented and strict with a down-to-the-minute schedule to guide me through the day (there's always that inevitable "now what do I do with him?" moment - even now when he's seven months old). The latter was *highly* recommended by my SIL. After deciding that Guidance was what we truly needed, we followed what we called "the nazi book" nearly to the letter. Day One sucked. So did Day 3 and 5... but at some point after a few weeks, it actually started to work. At about 3.5 months of age, this little angel started sleeping about 12 hours a night. Yes, we were turning mental cartwheels. We also recognize that every baby is different, and some babies just sleep through the night sooner than others. There's my disclaimer. There are parents/friends who are not so fond of us because of this early success, so we don't mention it too much.

And so, I have become a clock-watching, schedule-timing, generally well-slept mama. And when that schedule gets out of whack, watch out. Not so much because of me, but because of the boy. He's supposed to sleep 30-45 minutes around 9:00 a.m., then about 2 hours around noon. And actually, that hasn't been too hard to accomplish at home especially in the morning. We've learned to work our weekend lives around his nap schedule, and believe me it pays off. Perfection isn't possible, so we strive for general consistency. And we're not above going for a loooong drive to facilitate the almighty nap.

Daycare is another story. I can't remember the last time he slept 2 hours at noon - it's usually 30-45 minutes. This is probably because he's such a social baby that he just doesn't want to miss anything or anyone (because he's still generally very happy and good-natured despite this). So, every day we pick him up from daycare and every day he passes out within a minute of strapping him into the car seat and would gladly sleep the rest of the evening except that we have a Schedule To Keep, dang it, and we are going to keep it so he doesn't wake up in the middle of the night! LOL

Sigh... okay, reality check. I cannot control every part of his little baby life, and that will become more true every year. I'm really trying to go with the flow and help him get the sleep he needs as best I can. But this is starting to get under my skin. I'm hoping that when he moves into the next age group in a couple of weeks, this will sort of resolve itself since they have slightly more coordinated nap and feeding times.

In the meantime, I must remember to respect the nap when I can and recognize that it just doesn't always work out that way. I guess the boy will survive, eh?

Maybe this is one of the reasons I am now afflicted with insomnia and frequent wakings myself. Hmmm...