I am not really into attachment parenting, though I will lug my baby around in the Ergo to keep us all sane. I am not really committed to Baby Led Weaning, though it’s worked for Scout. I like having a hippie birth, but then I want all the vaccines. A friend once told me that I made her feel like it was OK to feed her child McDonalds, so maybe that is my parenting style: apply fast food as needed. Mostly, though, I’m kind of a parenting tribe misfit, borrowing a little of this, a little of that. I have no real parenting identity.
What I am, instead, is a passionate believer in The Nap.
Pippin has always been a wretched napper. I don’t think it’s something we did, but just the way God made him. He’s not a kid who relaxes very easily (he comes by this honestly, ahem), and so we spent the first couple of years of his life trying to trick him into sleep.
And there were some missteps, for sure, but I regret nothing. Because this is the kind of parent I am: the parent who needs her kids to nap.
It’s a rhythm that’s shaped my life for approaching four years, and at this point, if I’m not reading or writing or sleeping myself in a dim, quiet house come 1 o’clock, I feel off. Along the way, I’ve met people who will blow their kids’ naps quite casually if something exciting comes up, parents who admit defeat and allow their kids to kick the nap at two years old. And…that might be in other circumstances, or with subsequent kids, but The Nap is something worth fighting for.
I put Pippin into pajamas at nap time to make him sleepier. We are into blackout curtains and noise machines and loveys, and swings for babies. I’ve bribed. (Successful, mostly.) I’ve threatened. (Unsuccessful, overwhelmingly.) We’ve moved bedtime and wakeup time to make it happen. A nap-striking kid makes me angrier than almost anything else in this motherhood gig, but on a normal day, when things move smoothly, we meet back up in the afternoon refreshed and better able to enjoy each other through the day.
There are times I’ve wanted to quit. When Pippin learned to stand up in his crib and holler HELP ME. When he went through a phase where he’d be so low-sugar when he’d wake up that he’d shriek until I could convince him to eat a snack. There have been other times when I couldn’t get him down fast enough — especially when I was pregnant — and I’d start dreaming of nap time at 10:30.
Scout is a better sleeper. At 11 months, she still often takes three naps, whereas Pippin was down to a single nap by his first birthday.
I have to hustle and cajole and delay to get the kids to nap simultaneously, but it quite literally makes our day. I feel like the nap is under-appreciated as a means to family harmony. When we all get a little time alone and some rest, the whole day runs more smoothly. I can understand how it would be less of a priority for other mothers, but for this introverted, low-energy, melancholic lady, it keeps me sane, and I plan to insist on quiet time for the kids as they finally age out of naps.
In the end, I want to like my kids, to enjoy being around them, and paradoxically, to make that happen, I have to get them to sleep early and often. And so I do.
I am, I guess you could say, a Nappist.