We are always late, or needing to postpone or reschedule or push back or depart early from, social engagements. We are very sorry for this, because our friends' time is also valuable and we want to be respectful (which is why we do try to give as much notice as possible).
However, we have a toddler (formerly an infant) who is a terrible sleeper, and until someone else has had the experience of raising a terrible sleeper, I don't suppose that sounds like a very legit reason for bailing or delaying. Once you have a sleeper like ours, though, I think you would understand.
It takes me 2 hours to help her wind down enough to sleep at night (and this is with a routine). She fights her naps, and prefers nursing or the lull of motion to get her to the point of slumber. Otherwise, she might keep fighting and fighting until she crashes at the dinner table.
Her bedtimes are only somewhat predictable, and are hugely dependent on her nap times. She is a night owl, and has the most energy after her afternoon nap and in the evening right after dinner. She prefers going to bed after 10:00 pm, and sometimes as late as 2:00 am.
We haven't sleep trained her because it conflicts with our parenting philosophies, but we have tried to give her as much of a scheduled "routine" as possible, including wind down time and quiet activities and a bath / teeth brushing after supper. We allow her choice in her actual bedtime, because we have found it impossible to force an awake child to sleep. The biology dictates when she is tired, and when she's not, she's not! To compound this, she is a highly alert chick who hates sleeping (and she comes by it honestly)!
So for us, having her actually sleep is a precious and rare thing. If it happens at an inopportune time that affects a casual social commitment, we have to let sleep happen. Few items will trump this in terms of priority, because we do recognize the value of sleep in terms of her health and development. If that makes us flaky or crappy friends, then I am sorry for our flakiness; you are welcome to unfriend us in real life (and FB too)!
We are thankful for friends who "get it," and who patiently tolerate our tardiness or our difficult scheduling. Some of our best friends even make the effort to come by our place to hang out, thereby working around any potential sleeping conflicts while also letting Little L roam free in the comfort of her most familiar environment.
This season won't last forever, and we know that those who love us will wait for that day when planning an outing with Little L isn't a time sink. Until then, we do invite our pals to find a time that works with us so that we can have the nanny watch our darling daughter while we visit with them. We love you, friends, and are so grateful that you put up with us. May you never have to experience the travails of raising a sleep-fighter!!