The End of Nap-time
While recently in lock down with my four year old, who refused to sleep unless I was in the room, I felt a little ashamed realizing she has this much power over me. We argued over where, how and why to nap. I was impressed with her persistence and passion and envisioned great things for her future, but accolades were not in order at this time! She had worn me down to almost giving up. My mind and heart longed for the early days of two consistent naps a day. Our current situation is like a game of chicken - and it’s not turning out pretty for mama.
Part of my angst comes from knowing that my oldest would still nap if I told her to. She tells my little that she is jealous of her designated nap time at school. She has realized what many of us don’t until its far too late: designated sleep is the most amazing gift anyone can give! My four year old has yet to have a report sent home from school that she slept that day. Every take-home slip with a circle around “rested quietly” makes my eyeball twitch.
I don’t think she is the kind of kid who needs to nap all the time- however, there are times she still needs them. Starting school means a wave of new germs, being a growing human, a late night- these are great reasons for a nap! Why, child- why must you buck what is good for you?!
Four isn’t a crazy age for naps to no longer exist. Yet, when you can sense that the child needs them, to what extent do you go to get them to rest? If she skips her nap time, inevitably the next car ride anywhere, will coax her to sleep and equally mess with bedtime and start the vicious cycle all over again.
There’s a chart that covers how much rest a child should get by age, and it always freaked me out. Honestly, I felt like a failure. My kid wasn’t sleeping 336 hours of the day. Would she be susceptible to all the emotional and cognitive issues the stupid chart talked about? Is four that bad for napping to start to go away? Why did the doctor ask me if she still naps? All signs point to sleep, girlfriend! Get on board already!
A few days ago, the few days of bucking the nap caught up with her and she crashed without too much fanfare. She woke up about an hour later and stumbled into the bathroom where I was getting ready. Her warm cheeks cuddled into the small spot my shoulder connects with my neck and stayed there longer than usual. I sensed her sleepiness and slowly walked to my bed. As I carefully laid on the bed with her atop of me, snuggled tight, I enjoyed feeling my child rest for what seemed like the first time in forever. For the next hour I recalled the moments of her pink cheeks and sweet, sweaty post-nap smell. How quickly it’s gone from the two naps a day time to four years old. I know I do have worries about her dropping a nap, but maybe I am mostly sad over that she’s growing up.
All in all, when you’re a parent, you worry about everything. You can Google all day long, ask your friends and read every book, but, every child is different. We actually teach our children that. Every child is different. Charts are guidelines, not instruction manuals. I will say it again: every child is different. The end of nap-time might be age two and a half for one, and age six for another. Don’t ride the struggle bus because of a chart. You know what your kids need and you’re the perfect one to give it to them.