I see and hear a lot of parents getting overwhelmed (especially at the beginning) about nap time. They heard all of these horror stories about poor sleep schedules and routines gone awry, They read all of these books that paint beautiful pictures and bolster unrealistic expectations. And when it fails, all that strict routine, all that imagined ease, you’re left feeling guilty. Why won’t your baby sleep on cue? Why won’t they sleep for 3 hours every afternoon, without fail, in their assigned cage?
I’ll tell you why: BABIES DO NOT GIVE A SHIT WHAT YOU THINK! Yeah, I said it! That’s the truth people don’t tell you. Babies don’t care. They don’t KNOW that the box you assigned them is where you’d like them to sleep. What they know is that it’s not you. It’s not near you. It doesn’t smell or sound like you. It’s exile. You had the audacity to evict them from your insides, now you want them to sleep in Siberia? Do you see how you’re the problem? They didn’t ask for this. You did!
Now I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m certainly not saying all babies are the same, but in my personal experience, less is more. Did I sometimes go to bed with a sore back from baby carrying all day? Sure. Did I get everything I wanted done during the day? Hell yes! Because my baby was (all be it strapped to my chest) sleeping soundly. Did my kids pass out on the floor? Yup! Did they cry themselves to sleep? NOPE! Did they learn to sleep in their stroller? Yes. Did I have to schedule our entire lives around nap times? No. Did I have a few frustrating days sprinkled over the last five years due to cranky babies and weird nap times? Of course, but when that happens I can handle it, because I never had unrealistic expectations. I’ll tell you this though, they settle. They find their own rhythm. They start to fall asleep at the same time everyday, and they sleep soundly because they have no fear or stress from the struggle.
My kids are professional couch nappers.
Now, I’m not saying this will work for you and yours. I’m not. What I’m saying is that if you are that Mama (Or Daddy too) who’s mind full of books, and blogs, and mean Facebook comments, feels a tinge/wave of guilt every time you rock that toddler to sleep, nurse that babe in your arms, watch them curl up on the floor while you try desperately to down your coffee while it’s still hot, it’s okay. YOU’RE DOING IT RIGHT!
You’ve got this! Tell your stupid brain to shut the front door, and trust your Mama heart! She knows them better than you do. She was in proximity longer and had nothing better to do but supervise their construction. Take a breath. Take a beat. Remember that all they want is you, and how beautiful that is. Some days it may feel like you and your babe are running on fumes, but even that will run out. Don’t make it harder on yourself than you have to.
Once they’re out (and I promise you it will happen, sooner or later) get your coffee, stand in front of your sunniest window (or on the front steps, or out on the balcony) and just take a minute. Three deep breaths, with your eyes closed. You’ve got this. You do.
Because no matter how long they hold out, how hard they struggle and fight, how loud they might cry? Eventually, inevitably,
babies be nappin’…
As a side note, think about how glorious it is when you have nothing to do and you fall asleep on the couch, basking in the sun streaming in the window. Why would you deny anyone else that glory?