Sunday, February 6, 2011

Juggling Naps

Getting two kids on schedules that allow you any freedom to accomplish much of anything is one of the great challenges of parenting. I've been talking about getting the kids on a schedule and building more structure into their days for weeks now. I'd love to say that I'm succeeding but I'm just not sure that is even possible. With one child, you have at least a chance of knowing what their nap schedule will be and how you can plan around that. Granted, it changes every few weeks in the beginning so any schedule you make is temporary, but at least there is something that can resemble a schedule. With two kids, it gets complicated.

When Iain was taking three naps a day, one tended to overlap with Ada's afternoon nap. Sometimes they aligned quite well and I got to play catch up or take a mini siesta myself. Now that he takes two naps a day, with an occasional third cat nap, there isn't much overlap. His morning nap tends to be long, which is great if I want to spend a lot of time entertaining Ada, but awful if we want to leave the house in the morning. They just aren't on the same page. And it isn't like you just set the alarm an hour later and they magically synchronize their schedules. Or is it? Maybe that's something I should try?

Iain typically wakes up at six. I have to say "typically" because it could be five thirty, or it could be six thirty. Everything on his schedule is a range which makes planning anything firmly on the calendar next to impossible. Maybe that's why, as the saying goes, we should "pencil it in". I'd like to add "...and carry a BIG eraser." Ada could wake up with Iain, but she is more likely to wake up around seven thirty or eight. Now I could see this two ways. A) I get to spend quality alone time with each kid while the other sleeps or B) It would be so much more efficient if we could all just play together at the same time and let me take a nap and get stuff accomplished too. My personality screams for option B, but I'm trying to accept option A.

By the time both kids are changed and fed in the morning, we have about half-an-hour or an hour until Iain's first nap at nine thirty. Since we can't leave the house while he's sleeping, that makes Ada and I home bound until he wakes up about two hours later. You can imagine how hard it is to explain to a three-year-old that she can't go outside because her brother is sleeping. This is when a back yard would come in handy. We could always go out and have Iain nap in his stroller, but he might not nap as long and many experts claim he wouldn't get the same quality of rest. That also means I would have to have my ducks in a row early enough to actually get out of the house and plan a destination that would burn Ada's energy and entertain her while being quiet enough for Iain to nap. Not easy.

After his first nap, we can go out and play for a little while until everyone gets hungry, or we can eat and then go play. His second nap is around two and Ada's could be around two if she burned enough energy in the morning, but it is more likely not until three, if at all. Age three tends to be when kids start dropping naps altogether. That doesn't mean they don't necessarily still need naps. That just means they are no longer willing to take them. And a day when Ada skips her nap frequently turns into a night of crabbiness, whining, tears, and an early bedtime. Not exactly the recipe for a good time.

If Ada does take a nap at three, then Iain wakes up at three fifteen and my dreams of taking my own nap are shattered. A) Yeah, more one-on-one time with Iain! B) Poor me. If only I could catch up on some sleep.

To make matters more challenging, if Ada takes a nap it tends to last anywhere from one to three hours. The longer it is, the less time we get to go out and have an afternoon play adventure, and the more time we get to spend cooped up in our house. Again, I could see it two ways. A) Such well-rested kids surely won't be cranky and will grow up big and strong.  B) Damn it! Why can't I take a nap? I'm the one who got up early this morning and was woken up last night. I need a nap too. So what if I'm not three years old anymore. Moms need sleep too!

On the bright side, at least Iain can hang out in his exerscauser while I empty the dishwasher, make dinner or take a shower. He's at an age now where he can entertain himself for windows of time that are long enough for me to accomplish minor chores. And he's really good at sitting on our bed and playing with a toy while I fold laundry. And Ada is in love with movies just like her father. She loves to sit attentively watching an episode of Dora the Explorer and that gives me just enough time to knock a chore or two off my list. Not all is lost.

And then we arrive at dinnertime and bedtime. Somewhere between five and seven Rick comes home and we eat. Iain eats first since he will crash and burn if we don't get him in bed at or before seven. Ada might eat with him for convenience unless she is actually going to eat what we are having for dinner. We do the bedtime routine with her around eight and then we hope to be in bed ourselves by ten to do it all again tomorrow.

This all assumes that the kids are healthy, they are sleeping well at night, we haven't been traveling, and no appointments were scheduled that would totally throw off our schedules. Once you add those into the mix, then you really do need to be a professional juggler. Again, you have two choices. A) Accept that you are frequently going to be late and can't do it all. B) Get stressed out at how late you always are and how little you get accomplished.

Moral of the story: Draft a typical schedule but accept the fact that it will always be a draft in constant flux.

1 comment:

LadyGoodman said...

Getting our daughter on a schedule was the best thing we could have done! She STTN at 5wks, I went back to work full-time at 6wks, and was able to nurse for almost a year. Schedules are where it's at! :)