To Nap or Not To Nap, That is The Question

Alexandria Playing Outside With Her Peoples
The month of August has already passed and I only posted one blog during that time.  Aside from the major recovery I had to go through from the triathlon I completed in July, I had another quandary to solve.  And yes, if you are wondering, it does involved one little blond haired girl named Alexandria.

Sometime at the beginning of the summer my husband and I realized it was taking longer and longer to put our dear, sweet daughter to bed at night.  We went from being able to just lay her in her bed and close the door to having to lie on the floor until she's almost to asleep.  Anyone who has heard my stories of Alexandria's sleeping habits the first year of her life would not be surprised of this, however this parent was a wee bit perplexed.  A short summary of those habits are:  she didn't sleep.  She didn't sleep through the night until she was 8 months old, my husband had to rock her to sleep (sometimes it would take 2 hours), in the afternoon I would have to lie down with her to force her to take an afternoon nap and her morning naps were anything but consistent.)  I thought we were done with all of that.  I thought that I had entered bedtime utopia where mommies get to put their feet up before 9:00 and do not hear from said child until after eight the next morning.  How naive I had been.  

When she stopped going down to sleep easily I did not know what to do.  So, I did what came naturally and panicked.  I was training for a triathlon and was exhausted.  I was determined that this child was not going to interfere with my free time.  I knew that the only explanation for her actions were that she was being defiant and trying to ruin my life.  Yes, she was definitely plotting against me.

After a period of 6-8 weeks I realized that I had to take action.  Alexandria was not getting enough sleep and was extremely crabby.  Her dad was crabby.  I was crabby.  Even the cat was crabby...but she is all of the time.  Anytime you have a life crisis, it's always good to have trustworthy friends to consult.  When it comes to parenting issues, I am blessed to have a group of about 15 moms who don't mind if I pick their brains from time to time.  I went on our Facebook page and asked, "I need help!!!!!"  As expected the advice was quick and practical.  Don't give up trying to put her down for a nap, however it is possible that she is done with taking naps.  It was not necessarily what I wanted to hear, but exactly what I needed,  

In those moments when I read the advice I felt as if some of their awesome mom mojo rubbed off on me.  I came to a realization:  Alexandria was not set on ruining my day.  She was not trying to disrupt my life and she was not being defiant.  Other kids go through the exact same thing and their parents live to tell the tale.  At that moment I decided I wasn't going to stress out anymore about bedtime.  I was just going to let the pieces fall where they may.  I also reminded myself this was only a phase.  She would not be 16 years old crying for hours because we made her go to bed (unless it was because we told her she couldn't go to a party).  At some point I will actually miss the nights when she wants me to lie down on the floor by her bed so she can get to sleep.  She had also been through so many developmental milestones around that time, so chances are her brain is on overdrive.  So many wise parents that I have randomly met have told me, "This is the best time.  Treasure it now, because you will be sending them off to college before you know it."   I finally decided to heed their advice. 

I still try to get her to take a nap, but I don't stress out anymore when it doesn't happen.  If she isn't tired enough to fall asleep I let her bring her quiet toys into "Mama's Room" for quiet time.  She plays quietly for 45 minutes or so while I lie down for a bit and try to rest.  I never actually fall asleep and she is never completely quiet, but this is what works for us.  When she is a little bit older we will transition her quiet time to her bedroom.  

At night, she has been much easier to get to go to sleep.  The record was from last night where she fell asleep in less than 15 minutes. 

Since I'm not so stressed out about bedtime, it has freed up some of my energy to actually have fun with and enjoy my kid.  Today we lined up blocks across the living room while I told her what color each one was.  We also ate a yummy lunch of eggs, toast and broccoli for lunch sitting at the kitchen table.  She peed in the potty twice, which has turned into some pretty odd mother/daughter bonding time (not so odd if you grew up with me in a one bathroom house).  There has been more laughing and smiles and hugging.  Granted, I am not the perfect parent, nor is she the perfect child, but we are both learning to give each other a little more grace than we were capable of before all of this bedtime madness started.  And to me, that makes it all worth it. 

Her latest addiction:  spoons.  We are using them to learn colors.


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