Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Brief Moment of Silence, for Naptime

It should come as no surprise that Greta has officially dropped her nap. She napped more or less every day for 1.5-2 hours all through the winter and spring; I often had to wake her up to avoid sleeping too long. She needed it, little baby. I tucked her into her bed, sang her songs, turned on her white noise and nightlight, and she slept. That she kept her nap that long is remarkable, since Lucia stopped napping before she was even two and a half years old. Greta napped on for a solid year longer.

The nap started falling apart when Greta became more aware that not only was Lucia not napping--Lucia was having a grand time having "quiet" time in her room. Selecting toys to bring upstairs, playing with her ponies, singing and having tiny tea parties and coloring. For a while, I'd let Greta select toys to bring upstairs, but I could convince her to keep them on her bureau. Then she kept the toys in her bed. Then she played instead of napped, often sneaking into the hallway to play since her room was dark. I'd look out my office door and see all her plush princesses lined up by her door. Still, she was quiet, and Lucia was quiet, and the quiet part of quiet time was still sacred. (One afternoon, Lucia was in the bathroom and I suddenly heard her calling to me in a stage whisper--"There's nooo morrrre toooilet paperrrrrr.")

Then came the fateful day when Greta turned on her lights and opened her curtains, and the nap was no more.

Greta can play endlessly with whatever toys (ponies, tiny Playmobil animals, Legos, princesses) are in her room. Lucia has always occupied herself similarly, with an added focus on creating elaborate, symmetrical setups and meticulously color-coordinated organizations of things. Sometimes, now, the girls have quiet time together, playing in one or the other of their rooms. I try to enforce the calm, restful nature of their quiet time hour, and they seem to get it, but there are other days when they stampede between their rooms, laughing hysterically about something.

Still, quiet time exists, and they sometimes ask for "short quiet time" but usually don't resist it at all. And this leaves me in an unexpectedly okay place now that I'm in that dreaded new world where neither of my kids naps. There was always an element of crazy stress around naptime for me--I've always desperately needed that break (for work and for sanity), and with both kids I religiously arranged our entire mornings as one long leadup to naptime, stressing the whole time about whether a nap would happen, and what it would mean if it didn't. But now--I can choose whatever time I want for quiet time. We can push it earlier or later depending on what we're doing. If Greta is exhausted enough, she still falls asleep now and then. And if we're out and about and we have to skip it entirely, I don't have to freak out with worry that I've upset the routine and will never reestablish it the next day.

And the most important thing is that thanks to quiet time, I still get that break. I heard a podcast of Cheryl Strayed talking about how she got stuff done when she had young kids, and she talked about closing a door and telling her kids that unless they were on fire, they shouldn't bother her. This is pretty much how I feel about quiet time. Sure, they wander into my office now and then with various questions or comments, but mostly they know that quiet time is a break for all of us.

And so, a moment of silence for naps. But a round of applause, too, for my successful institution of quiet time. Come fall, our routine will change again, but for now, shhhh. It's Mommy's quiet time.


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