I posted this picture of our recent nap FAIL, and it got me thinking about everything I've learned about naps.
Here it is, a short memoir in naps:
- First baby: Naps rule the world. Baby needs naps. Mama and daddy really need naps. Does baby #1 nap? No. I obsessed over this for roughly 36 months.
- Second baby: Naps are ... optional. We got things to do, people to see, playdates to attend. Naps for baby #2 are bound to happen, don't get me wrong. But more as a result of the sheer human need for rest. Not so much the motherly compulsion to put baby down to rest in a timely and ordered manner each and every day.
- Normal babies vs. colicky babies: This makes all the difference. Normal babies lie down, and if they are tired enough, they eventually fall asleep (est. 10 minutes). Colicky babies lie down, panic ensues, sleep is the enemy, where is Mommy?! Dear God, where is Mommy?!! And so on.
- Mommy: The mommy of colicky baby is a hot mess. She obsesses. She nurses on demand, for serious. The mommy of normal baby relaxes and waits. She knows that normal baby will either be asleep in about 10 minutes or not. I was this mommy today. I snapped this picture of Baby Henry not sleeping and all twisted up because it cracked me up. Afterward I scooped him up, took him out to the living room, let him play another 30 minutes or so, then tried again. Finally, he slept. Like he should. Like normal babies should.
- Panic begets panic, chill attitudes beget chill households: This is the rule that we should hear about, not that "sleep begets sleep" bullshit. (If you haven't heard, this is the notion that babies who sleep well during the day will sleep well at night. I have no idea if it is true, but I believed it for a long time (kinda still do) and it can make you crazy trying to get good daytime sleep to happen.) Really, if you have a panicky baby who wakes up at the slightest thing, only wants to be held in your arms, and insists on one parent over the other, this stuff will make you panicky as well. The household feels like it's on eggshells. Whereas chill attitudes from mom or baby or dad or all of the above (preferably!) somehow seem to create an atmosphere of chillness. This is very chicken vs. egg. "Is our second baby calmer because WE are calmer?" No one knows. But the aura of calm is very nice, isn't it?
- Postpartum nonsense: Postpartum depression, folks. IT IS REAL. It affects everything. I just have to mention it with regard to naps because it plays a role in every aspect of parenting. I've had friends who had it with Baby #1 or with Baby #2 or #3. PPD lies to you, and tells you that the babe is not napping because of you. I'm here to tell you: this is nonsense. This parenting stuff is hard. It's not hard because you're doing it wrong. It's hard because it's hard. But it will pass. It will get better.
- Finally: nap time is parent time. We all know this. But the second time around I understand this like it's my gosh darn JOB. As soon as kids are asleep, I'm reading my book or searching for flights or washing my dishes or WHAT-ever. Whatever needs to be done, it's the first thing I do. This is precious time! It doesn't last forever. Stop farting around on Facebook and get your shit done! And if "your shit" involves some time with the husby or some time with the peaceful quiet or even (whoa) a nap for yourself, then get on it! And have a blast.