When it comes to kids and their sleep pretty much all of us are on the constant lookout for that magical sleepy formula, aren’t we?! I want to start by saying that when it comes to you and your kids I literally couldn’t care less what you do, as long as it works for you! Sleep training, no sleep training, putting baby down with a bottle (guilty), gradual retreat, crawling in next to your toddler, hand holding, co-sleeping – whatever! As long as all of you are getting some kind of sleep, high five to ya!
No Fence Sitting
There is one thing that I have always had a fairly steadfast opinion on, though. When a child is tired, let them sleep. Sometimes, bollocks to the routine. In my experience children sleep better in general when they are getting enough sleep. Sounds like a total oxymoron doesn’t it?! What I mean, though, is that I have never seen the sense in restricting naps in order to get kids to sleep better at night. And you know what I dislike more than not allowing a kid to sleep? Waking a sleeping child up. It rarely ends well and just seems so unfair! Personally if someone interrupted my nap, I’d be pretty pissed.
I have seen this quite a lot working in nurseries; parents are at their wits end with a child who just won’t go to sleep at bedtime, so they draw the natural conclusion that they must be getting too much sleep in the day. Stop or reduce the nap, and by bedtime they’ll be so shattered that they’ll crash within minutes, right? Except then what you’re left with is a cranky kid from 2pm onwards, and a kid so overtired by 6:30pm that bedtime just becomes one big old scream-fest.
There have been times in the last 6 months, though, when I have really questioned my stance on this.
No One Else Is Napping
I happened to walk past Amelia’s room in nursery just after lunch last week and noticed that she was one of only 3 being put down for a lunchtime nap. Given that there are up to 12 children in her room on any given day, I wondered why so few were having the blessed post-lunch nap. Am I mad for continuing this? Does everyone else know something that I don’t? But then I simply thought No! I know my kid, and I know that she needs that sleep in order to function happily this afternoon. She’ll drop it when she’s ready. I also checked with the staff, and they say she doesn’t put up a fight at nap time. That says it all, right?
You Can’t Nap At School!
This time next year we will be gearing up for the big move to school! Everyone knows it’s kind of frowned upon to nap at school (I know this from experience!) With that in mind, should I be worried about her still napping now? Should I be starting to try to wean her off the lunchtime nap? I really don’t know, but what I do know is that school is well over a year away, and a year when it comes to kids is a loooooooong time! We all know how much can change in just a month, let alone a year! She’ll be fine.
Am I Being Selfish?
Alright, I’ll be honest. I quite like naptime, sssshhhh don’t tell anyone! Naptime gives me vital time to de-stress, clear up the morning’s mess, eat some food, and generally prepare for the afternoon ahead. Just sometimes, they both nap at the same time! Whaaaaaat?! So am I being selfish in continuing the nap? Is it me who isn’t ready to let it go just yet? Maybe…
Fighting At Home
Ok, there’s no fight over naps at nursery, but there are definitely days when we argue about it at home. If she doesn’t want to sleep, should I really be pushing the matter? If a child wants to sleep, let them sleep, but what if a child doesn’t want to?! BUT. I know 100% that once she takes a deep breath and lays down she will always fall asleep, and fairly quickly too.
Proof In The Pudding
Here’s the problem, though. For the last few days and for various reasons, Amelia has not had a lunchtime nap. One day she had friends over, another day Nana visited and it just wasn’t worth the fight, then we had a party to go to – basically life got in the way. While there were a couple of
hairy bitchy stressy whingey tired and cranky episodes they really didn’t last more than 5 minutes.
Our bedtime routine went from me having to sit on the floor next to her stroking her hair for 40 minutes to her literally falling asleep in my arms as I carried her to bed. And then – and here’s the big one – she has stayed in her own bed ALL NIGHT! In the last 6 months I could count on one hand the amount of times I have woken without finding her squeezed in between Mr C and I. And yet for the last few nights I’ve seen and heard nothing from her until about 6:30am when she has tiptoed into our room and whispered in my ear;
“Mummy, I’m awake. I think I woke William up.”
So Is My Mind Changed?
I still really don’t know. The staying in her own bed thing is great, but it’s not really the personal space I’m thinking about. It’s more that to sleep so deeply that she doesn’t wake at all in the night says to me that the sleep she is getting is of a better quality. And that is a really big deal to me (and to her, obvs!) But then there are the times like last weekend when we had a party to go to at 2pm. We had to leave around 12:30 to navigate public transport there and she ended up falling asleep in my arms. Obviously, I was then lumbered with carrying her the whole way. We hadn’t had a particularly eventful morning, so it wasn’t like I’d knackered her out, she clearly just needed that sleep.
So I’m left with feeling like I need to just wing it, day by day. I feel like she uses so much energy at nursery because they are always ridiculously active all day, so I think she still needs that sleep there. Maybe we just start letting her skip it at home? But then I think wouldn’t it be better for her if she skipped the nap at nursery so that she gets a great night’s sleep on the days we have to be up at 6:30am rather than the days we don’t have to get up?
I realise that a large proportion of this post is questions, so I apologise to anyone who came here thinking they were going to be let in on some big secret. The truth is there is no magical sleep formula, no special elixir, no expert advice for me to impart. Just one mum asking some other mums for their opinion, advice, and experience!
Anyone got the answers?!