Since Amelia was born I have stuck to a pretty strict routine. Ok, maybe not from the day she was born, but definitely a couple of weeks or so after. Almost every single day from the age of 2 weeks to about 15 months the evening routine was bath, milk, bed at 7pm. Naturally her routine during the day changed as her needs changed, but eventually we settled on lunch at 11:30, nap around 12:15, dinner around 5, bed at 7. These days we opt for a bath every other day (ish). Those of you with more than 1 kid will get it!
When Wills arrived, he pretty much slotted in around our existing routine. Second babies kinda have to do that, don’t they?! Until about a month ago, he was having 2 naps either side of Amelia’s lunch nap; one in the morning waking up in time for lunch, and another in the afternoon. For a while I loved this because it basically meant I only had 1 kid to deal with for most of the day! Soon enough, though, I was longing for the day when they both nap at the same time so I could pleeease get some kid free time during the day.
That day has come, and now Wills has moved to a morning power nap for about half an hour, followed by a long sleep after lunch with his sister! Some days I literally do a little skip out of their room after I put them down. But – because there just always has to be one – as amazing as the routine is, I sort of feel like I’ve tied myself to the house with it.
Amelia hasn’t used a pram for about a year now, and Wills is in a stroller. Also, I don’t drive (yet, *sigh*). What this means is that (due to the lack of places to sleep) we have to be back at home for naptime every day. Or somewhere that I can get Amelia to sleep, like a friend or relative’s house. Even that, though, is a mission in itself. Ever tried getting a kid to sleep when Nana is just in the other room, definitely ready to throw a teddy bear tea party at a moments notice?!
Going anywhere in the morning needs to be pretty well organised. To get the most of our time, and to have enough time to actually get to places, we have to leave the house straight after breakfast. The same goes for the afternoon. By the time the kids are both awake it’s usually about 2:30 which only gives me about 2 hours at best before I have to start getting dinner ready. 2 hours sounds like a lot, but when you’ve faffed about for 25 minutes getting shoes and coats, walked to and from wherever you’re going at a kids pace, you’re looking at half an hour in the park or a 25 minute mad dash into as many shops as needed! For all that effort, we might as well just stay at home in the garden!
So here’s the thing. Wills can sleep in his stroller, fine. Amelia can’t. BUT she is 3-and-a-half, so surely by now she can manage 1 sodding day without an afternoon nap, right?! I mean, most kids her age gave up the nap months ago! Nope. Tried it. Several Times. Failed.
Take away Amelia’s precious lunchtime nap and one of several scenarios occurs;
Scenario 1: The Full On Tired Meltdown
The full on tired meltdown usually starts over something ridiculous like a Kinder egg or a stick on the path that’s in her way. Once the crying starts it soon turns into shrieking and howling, followed by snot bubbles and uncontrollable “whhhhhyyyyyyyy”‘s screamed at no one in particular. Honestly, this happened ALL THE WAY home from the shops last week because I dared to get the kids home at 12 instead of 11:30 for the usual lunch/nap routine.
Scenario 2: The Watch Me Power Throu…
There have been a few occasions when I’ve looked at Amelia and really believed her when she’s batted her eyelids and said “but I’m not tired at all, mummy!” So I let her stay up. Watching her play, I begin to question myself. Is she finally ready to drop the nap? Am I forcing her to sleep when she doesn’t need to? Is the nap for her, or for me?! Her behaviour is impeccable, and I don’t even hear her playing while I’m making dinner. Oh. That’s because she’s asleep on the sofa. At 5pm. Brilliant.
Scenario 3: The Overtired Bedtime
I’d go so far as to say I like bedtime more than I like naptime, which is why this one is truly a punishment when it occurs. The overtired bedtime happens when the nap has been missed, for whatever reason. What then happens is Amelia is past tired (you know that feeling?!) and she either creates all manner of fuss at bedtime, usually for at least a couple of hours, or she screams. For hours.
Routine Is Important, But For Who?
These scenarios, friends, are why I get jittery at your house at 11am. Or why I shoot Mr C devil eyes when he agrees to take the kids somewhere over lunchtime. I HATE it when naptime gets messed around, because it only leads to trouble. It also has a knock on effect for days after, which is not pretty either. But to be honest, there are times when sticking to the routine so rigidly makes my life difficult. Until Amelia drops the nap, leaving the house at any point of the day requires military precision.
In the words of my daughter;
“Sometimes you just gotta deal with it. You gotta deal with my whole life.”
(when asked about her behaviour after a full on tired meltdown)