In truth, my girls haven’t had a nap in the past couple of months. I’m just now ready to admit it, to see that reality written in black and white.
Since they were infants, our girls have been champion sleepers. I credit so much of our success to the BabyWise methodology. We are very schedule-oriented. I took to heart the BabyWise thinking, that “Mommy determines when naps start, and when naps are over.” There were times when the girls’ needs would shift for whatever reason, and I’d have to find that new “sweet spot” window of magic during which I could easily get them down for a nap. Sometimes it took a little experimentation, but I was always able to get back to blissful rest (for them) and blissful quiet (for me).
My unspoken goal was to keep the girls napping until they started preschool, at age 3 ½. That felt feasible, judging by my mommy friends. Some kiddos dropped their naps as early as 2 ½, but others were napping until they were four. [I laugh as I write this, knowing the best-laid “plans” of parenthood are so often laid to waste!]
We went through a rough patch when the girls started preschool at 3 ½. I can only guess that my Baby A decided that meant she was a “big girl” and so she no longer needed to nap. My B continued to sleep willingly, though, and A was pretty compliant with my “quiet time” rules. I would ask every few days if A wanted to nap, and she always said no…until the day – that glorious day! – after Thanksgiving. She said she wanted to nap…she napped…we celebrated…and she napped every day for the next eight months!
There was no great schedule shift over the summer, but the girls did start talking a bit after I put them to bed at night. It wasn’t long after that that they simultaneously refused to nap. It’s hard to recount…one day, they napped, and the next day they played in their beds the entire time. That went on for a couple of days, to the great stress of this mommy. I finally asked the girls, “Are you going to nap today?” They both said no. I established rules for “quiet time”, and we moved on.
The stress of trying to “enforce” naps was really tough for me. Although I really missed MY quiet time during the afternoons, holding rules for quiet time is much easier in comparison.
Here’s how I’m keeping things in perspective…
- My girls napped until they were 4 ½, which is a full year past my “goal”.
- After a (relatively painful) adjustment period that lasted two or three weeks, I am comfortable that my girls are getting the rest they need at night. Their temperaments are pretty good, which I think is a fair indication.
- There’s a lot less pressure to keep our schedule running like a well-oiled machine. I still value our schedule, framed mostly by mealtimes and bedtime these days, but I didn’t even come close to hyperventilation last week when we were running a full hour behind getting home one afternoon. Just a few short months ago, I would have been tempted to break the sound barrier getting home in time for the girls to settle down and read books and start nap. These days, we do the best we can, but it’s not the end of the world if we get caught up doing something else.
- There’s less commotion at bedtime. The girls are ready for bed, so I’ve heard less talking over the monitor and I’ve made fewer treks upstairs.
- I’m not quite as stressed out about transitioning the girls to regular beds in the next couple of weeks. I’d said I didn’t want to make the switch from cribs until they dropped their naps, thinking it would be too tempting for them to stay in bed with the lure of being able to get out. It seems the stars agree with my game plan.
- I feel less guilty about doing housework when the girls are awake. Particularly when the girls were taking two or three naps a day, I reserved all my housework for their nap times. It’s not feasible that everything waits until bedtime, so the girls are more involved than ever in laundry, dishes, and cooking.
- The girls often choose to do artwork during at least part of their quiet time, so my refrigerator is fuller than ever with their creations.
So…would I love to have an uninterrupted hour to myself every day? I’d be lying if I didn’t say yes. But an uninterrupted day with my baby girls does come with its perks, and I’m choosing to focus on those.
Are your kiddos still napping? If not, at what age did they give up naps? Was it a smooth transition? How did you cope?
MandyE is mom to 4 1/2-year old fraternal twin girls. She blogs about their adventures and her journey through motherhood at Twin Trials and Triumphs.