Friday, February 29, 2008

The Elusive Nap

I'm not sure what it is about naps that kids don't care for. I remember not liking to take naps as a little girl, but I don't exactly remember why. Maybe I was too busy. Maybe I thought I would miss something. Maybe (and I think this is the most likely) I hated the waking up process and didn't want to have to mess with it any more times a day than I had to. (I have never been good at waking/getting out of bed, but that's another story.) As an adult, however, I have come to love naps. There's not much better than a long, cozy afternoon nap, especially if it happens to be raining outside. But it has taken me a long time to get there.

Apparently, Chickster has inherited my dislike for childhood naps. From the time he was a tiny boy, he has fought daytime sleep. Way before the "experts" say babies are able to keep themselves awake, Chickster has been a sleep-fighting champ. He would stay awake for hours at a time, and take only brief, sporadic naps. We would put him down for a nap and it would take him 30 minutes to fall asleep, even if he was so tired he could hardly hold his eyes open. But again, the "experts" say that tiny babies are not able to regulate their sleep, and an erratic sleeping pattern is normal. Normal? I'm not sure anything about Chickster's sleeping is normal.

Once he got a bit older and we started in earnest with a daytime schedule, I was at my wits' end. Every book I could get my hands on said he should be sleeping several hours during the day. All my friends had babies who would nap for an hour or more at a time, at least twice a day. Not here. No, I was lucky if Chickster took three, sometimes four, half-hour naps over the course of a day. "Normal?" I don't think so. Those "experts" again say that new mommies should nap when their babies nap. Yeah, right. It's pretty difficult to get a nap when you only have 30 minutes from the time the baby goes down until he's up again and you have 18,000 things that need to be done rattling around in your head. Either these "experts" have never tried to "sleep when the baby sleeps" or they are men. Occasionally, Chickster would sleep for 40 minutes. Those extra 10 minutes seemed like an hour. I didn't know what to do with myself during those extra few minutes. Sad, I know.

Just recently, Chickster has begun to lengthen the duration of his naps - sometimes. He's gone from set-your-watch-by-him 30-minute naps, to taking naps that last sometimes 45 minutes, sometimes an hour, an hour and a half, and rarely, two hours. Two whole hours. Do you know what it's like to have free two entire hours all at once when you've had only a half hour at a time for months? What do you do during that time? Take a nap, of course! The only problem is that when he goes to sleep, you never know how much time you will have. Is it a 30-minute nap day? Will he sleep an hour and a half this time? There's no way to know. I wish babies had a countdown timer on their forehead. That way when you laid them down for a nap, you could see exactly how much time you had until they would wake up and could plan your activities appropriately. It would come in handy at other times too, but I think sleep would be the most important use.

It doesn't take much to disrupt the naps. Even when he's on a great napping streak, when Chickster is on the cusp of learning something new or having a growth spurt, he doesn't nap well. So right now that seems to happen quite often. And if we stay out a bit too long or he gets too wound up, it is really difficult for Chickster to calm down and take a nice nap. He usually falls asleep quite easily, he just doesn't stay asleep very long.

I will say this for him, though. When the boy's asleep, he's asleep. It seems that once he falls asleep, he's out for the count, however long it may be. If he falls asleep in the car seat on the way home, he will stay asleep when I bring him inside, whether I just leave him in his seat and set him in the floor or go as far as to take him out of the seat and lay him in his crib. He might stir and open his eyes for a second, but he's back asleep in no time. That is really nice!

I have tried to not take all of this too seriously, but when you're tired too, it can be hard. I would love to sit down and have a conversation with him about his sleeping habits and get all of this worked out. And I've tried. The only problem is that he doesn't seem to see things my way. Hmmmm...I wonder why that is? Pin It

3 comments:

  1. I thought I was a bad mother because my first born - YOU - only slept 30 minutes at a time. Wait...if I didn't start out to be a bad mother...that 30 minute napping schedule quickly moved me into that position! AARGHHH! You provided the added twist of "crying" most of the minutes you were awake. That was just lovely. I heard every explanation under the sun
    ...colic...underfed...overfed...
    allergies...too cold...
    too hot...on the tummy...on the back...

    Somewhere it all stopped and life became more normal - at least what I was willing to accept as normal. Subsequent children slept better. You inability to sleep restfully probably was all my fault. All of that to say...wish I knew what to tell you :) The advise I got didn't ever seem to work...so I don't have any to give. Time is a great remedy. The baby gets older and sleeps better...and as you move away from the sleeplessness of early motherhood you suppress just how demanding and horrible it all was. That's the way it has to work for anyone to be willing to have another kid! :)

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  2. I don't have any kids... but we do have a cat who reguarly gets very wound up late at night, or early in the morning (2-3 am). I have discovered that the best way to handle him is to catch him in the act of running across us while we sleep, toss him off of my bed with a growl and then ignore him completely. I'm not sure it would work so well with a baby....

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  3. a box full of sox? really... did you wear those your first night? that is pretty revealing... haha

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