Greetings from a mom who is done with napping children. It’s great to have the flexibility during the day for longer activities, meeting friends for playdates, or day trips to faraway places. It’s a new life . . . the life without naps. The freedom to make plans and keep them.
But not that long ago, I was something very different than the flexible, plan-keeping, up-for-it woman I am today. I used to be the mom who refused to skip my child’s nap. Yep, that one.
Here’s the thing, for a lot of parents, It’s so much more than just a nap. It’s a guaranteed quiet hour or two to collect our thoughts. To finish laundry. To not hear someone talking. To finish that thing for work. To call our moms. To read. To use the treadmill. To eat a sandwich. To pay a bill. To reply to that e-mail. To send a birthday card to Grandma. It’s a million little things crammed into a very brief window of peace. Many, many things we try to cram into that sweet 1.5 hours (on a good day), and we accomplish about 40% of what we hope to in that window.
For us, it’s a routine that impacts how our child sleeps that evening. And before you say it, “Just putting them to bed earlier” is not going to cut it. In fact, most parents I know will say skipping that afternoon nap creates a much more difficult bedtime routine, and a later one.
Some people thrive parenting in a completely relaxed and unstructured way. That’s seriously so great! If I’m honest, I’m a little envious. I believe kids thrive when their environment is relaxed and go-with-it. I believe it’s good for them to have experiences. I believe it’s fine for children to skip naps. Just not my children. And no amount of guilt, unsolicited advice, or (speaking to you here, Grandma) begging will change my mind. It’s a loving but firm no way. It’s just not how some of us are wired. I promise, we aren’t trying to be uptight, but man, we just need that nap.
I also know (from personal experience) we absolutely do not want to miss that birthday party for your child at 2 p.m., the big cousin’s baseball game on Saturday, the BBQ at Uncle Joe’s, the playdate at the park, the preschool graduation, the beach gathering, the family reunion . . .
It’s just this nap thing is short-lived and for us, right now, necessary. We need it to keep a routine we work hard for—a bedtime that’s seamless, a dinner without tantrums, that babysitter who also relies on some quiet time.
We want our relationships, hobbies, friendships, and extended family time . . . we do. But just not at the expense of the naps, the routine, the quiet, and our sanity. So, from all of us strict-on-the-naps parents, give us grace. We won’t be away for long.