Friday, March 18, 2011

Sleep transitions

My 25-month-old toddler is starting to slowly transition to a state of naplessness.

Actually, it would be more accurate to say that *I* am starting to encourage her in that direction. While she is no longer at all likely to simply go to sleep on her own in the middle of the day, I can stack the deck - if I give her a breastfeed, she will still happily feed off to sleep and then snore away 2 or more hours. However, if she does that, she then won't settle for night sleep until at least 9pm, and she's been pushing that later and later, until last night's 10:30pm effort finally convinced me that the daily nap is becoming a problem rather than an asset to our overall family rhythm.

The difficulty with toddler not going to sleep until effectively the same time as me is fourfold:

1. I get no time in the afternoon / evenings to spend exclusively with my older daughters, talking about their day, listening to readers, exploring homework, reading our read-aloud chapter book, and just hanging out. As toddler has pushed her bedtime later and later over the last month, the 7 and 5 year olds (who go into bed at 8pm, with lights out at 8:30) have been really missing that time to relax together without an enormously cute and enormously mischievous 2 year old running around.

2. I also get no time at all during the week to talk child-free to my husband. This is not a great thing for either our relationship or my sense of personhood as an adult separate from my identity as "Mummy."

3. Even though I do, in theory, get up to 2 free daytime hours when she naps, this trade-off doesn't seem to quite equate to the productivity and sense of benefit I can achieve if toddler is asleep at 7, the big kids in bed at 8, and me well-rested enough to do stuff through until 10:30 or 11. I often seem to find myself doing household chores, things that can just as easily be done with toddler awake, when she is asleep in the day. Things like laundry, dishes, cooking, and mopping, things that she actually enjoys doing with me and are part of her play / development.

When all the kids are asleep at night, I am much more likely to blog, do paid work if I have a bit of contracting on (which is sporadic and occasional, taking up about one or two nights every three weeks or so), write poetry or stories, ring a friend to chat, watch TV with my husband, or catch up on my own reading. In other words, it's less about the house, more about me (at the moment I count the contract work as personal time, because it's interesting and engaging and, most importantly, not ever-present ;-)

4. I think C herself prefers not to sleep sometimes. She seems to really enjoy the extra stories, playtime, and usually extra 15 minutes or so of TV that the lack of the nap buys her. She is rarely super-grizzly and while she becomes very subdued as the afternoon wears on, she doesn't seem dramatically affected by it.

I think she isn't quite ready to ditch the nap totally - after gymnastics and playdate morning on Tuesdays, for instance, she is always desperate for a nap by 12:30, and the same is true on swimming Saturdays. For now I'm going to try every second day and see how that flies. It might be a disaster, but sometimes you have to try things to see what'll work.

1 comment:

  1. Ah it's a tricky transition time... My 2.5yo boyo naps every third day or so. Those days are not my favourite :s Without fail the baby will wake within minutes of T falling asleep and whilst I love the quiet time with her, those evenings are hard yards. Especially on the 5&7 yo's, and even more especially when their Dad is away at work.

    I'm really looking forward to naps becoming a rarity here. When he doesn't nap he's well and truly asleep by 7 and those evenings peace reigns supreme :)