As we mature from infant to toddler we also outgrow bottles, diapers, pacifiers, mashed food and teething rings, but the battle with sleep continues.
by, Becky j Miller
We arrive on the planet with an innate need to sleep, but even from the beginning, it seems our nature to fight that natural instinct.
Why is that so? Ever been around a sleepy baby? They will cry and fight to stay awake, making themselves and everyone around them miserable. Once they finally collapse from exhaustion, peace settles in and all is well.
As we mature from infant to toddler we also outgrow bottles, diapers, pacifiers, mashed food and teething rings, but the battle with sleep continues. Granted, some toddlers welcome naptime, but they are a rare breed.
Our oldest son was easy to put down for a nap provided we were home and he could sleep in his own bed. He would doze in his car seat if we happened to be traveling, but otherwise, no bed meant no sleeping.
When Stephen was 3 years old and I was 6 months pregnant we made the trip from Rome, Italy to Dallas, Texas alone. It was approximately an 18-hour trip. That boy stayed awake until the plane was about to touch down in Dallas. I vividly recall seeing the runway lights and looking over to find him completely conked out.
Our daughter was definitely the most obstinate when it came to naps. An otherwise agreeable child, she flat out refused to sleep during the day. Each day I dutifully put her to bed and each day, she’d get right back up. Nothing, no amount of cajoling, threatening, spanking, or bribery would make that child stay in her bed.
Finally, this mom had an “aha!” moment; at night Brittany obediently stayed in her bed and fell right to sleep, so perhaps she simply did not need a nap? The naptime battles created a lot of stress in our day, stress that dissipated once I quit trying to force her into a mold that she did not fit.
Now baby number three was a go full force, never slow down kind of child. Be it day or night, Christopher decided when he was done and ready to sleep. The child literally fell asleep wherever he happened to run out of gas, be it the middle of the living room floor, curled up under the coffee table, or sitting up in his highchair.
As the maturation process continues and we begin the school years, naptime disappears, lying forever dormant in the dusty annals of our past, never to be rediscovered. Somewhere along the way, we forget the idea that naps bring rest in an otherwise chaotic world.
New mothers are often told to nap when their babies nap, but how many really do? If they were to nap, when would they accomplish things like taking a shower, brushing their teeth, washing the dishes because there are no more clean glasses in the house, or eating something besides M&M’s that are easily grabbed from the candy dish?
Naps just don’t seem to fit in our adult world, but trust me on this; they are an untapped source of power. I rediscovered their importance when I was training for the London Marathon. Those twenty-mile training runs were brutal! I came home afterwards, showered, ate and took a nap. I was a much better person for it too. Without a nap, my alter ego Cruella De Ville would have likely shown up. No, I wasn’t trying to hurt puppies, but you get the point, no nap = not very nice Becky.
In the past, I viewed napping as a sign of weakness; I was too busy with too much to do for slowing down and taking care of me, but no more. These days, when my eyelids start to get heavy, I’ll pull the blinds and crawl under the covers with absolutely no feelings of shame or regret.
So my fellow grown ups, here you have it, in writing, on a public forum, it’s okay to nap. Your body needs sleep and it is the only one you’ve got, so what do you say? Turn off the phone, pull the blinds and give it try. Yawn.
Until Next Time,
Becky J Miller