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Oh the Inhumanity of It All - A Rant on Naps

My little night owl follows the principle of, "Late to bed, late to rise." I am sure it is genetic but I won't point any fingers to protect the guilty.

A nap at 4:30 (pre-Daylight Savings). Really?
Anyway, she has been trying to drop her nap for a while now, and with increasing frequency in the past two months. In any given week, I'd say she is napping 40% of the time. 

But this process of nap elimination can be a cruel ordeal for all involved. For parents, no nap means that your cute and entertaining tot turns into a temperamental gremlin in the late afternoon. Also, this change in disposition just happens to occur when you hit your mid-day wall and need a nap yourself. It's not a coincidence that this is also when you debate (and end up having) that second or third coffee.

However, a nap occurrence (that usually happens in the late afternoon) might bring you and your tot rest and a break from each other, but it also brings postponed misery; it pushes bedtime to some ugly hour in the night. What to do with a well-rested, energy-filled 2.5 year-old when it's cold and rainy (or snowy) and pitch-black outside? The parks and outdoor spaces are no longer an option. Neither are stores, libraries, or community centres, which are also closing if not already shut down for the night. If you are blessed with a large abode containing several flights of stairs and copious amounts of furniture-free running space, then I suppose this is not an issue for you. For me, however, it is an exercise in patience and creativity to try to come up with "fun things" to do with Little L at 9:30 pm, when she specifically says, "Mommy, I want to do a fun little thing" in reference to crafts or science experiments or some other novel as-yet-unexplored activity. At 9:30 at night!

It's not like dropping naps is any easier for little people, either. The act of fighting rest and staying up for 12 hours straight is not a feat I can even accomplish on most days; it's exhausting! But for a teeny tiny person, I am sure that it gets pretty rough when their well-meaning parents try to keep them "up" to try to avoid the dreaded late nap. Imagine if someone tried to keep you from sleeping for a full 24 hours, constantly introducing distractions to rouse you and maintain your consciousness when all you want to do is stay still and close your eyes in a quiet place. It's how I imagine it feels for a toddler when they miss their "nap window" and their parents try to keep them alert despite their desire to slumber.

But what about the lucky little kid who does get to nap when/if she's tired, without parental interference? I can't say that it's really all that much better for them on the back end, since they get to spend some of their best awake hours with a grouchy, tired, over-caffeinated parent. If I'm honest, when Little L pulls a late nap, there is usually a lot of me lying on the floor, "supervising" her antics with my eyes half-closed once it gets late. I'm usually good until 10:00 pm, but after that, I turn back into a sleeping pumpkin. It's not exactly fun times, then, for this poor tot to be wide awake and cooped up in 1200 square feet with a sleepy momma, unable to go outside on adventures or fully rouse her tired old mother.

Today was a late nap day (5:00 pm). Yesterday was an even later-nap day (5:30-8:30 pm).

However, in a freakish turn of events last evening, Little L had dinner after she got up, played for a scant hour or so, and started asking to do things that are part of her bedtime routine. She was fast asleep by 11:45, which is amazing considering she had a 3 hour nap that concluded only 3 hours earlier. So weird.

Anyway, dropping the nap is truly a torturous process for everyone involved. Inhumane, even. And in contrast to the ease with which she eliminated her second nap, I predict that this nap will stubbornly persist for a few more months in our household, until Little L is finally able to maintain a steady state of alertness for 12 straight hours. I do assume that such a day will come, one day. I hope.

Until that blessed day, however, we're all screwed. Pass me the coffee (#3).







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