Contrary to popular belief I don’t actually wear the trousers in our house (and sorry hubby, neither do you..). No, you see Nap Time is King of our Castle. And he’s been gloriously reigning over us for nearly 3 years.
You see, newborns are sneaky creatures aren’t they? They’re all cute dimples, nice smelling, marathon daytime nappers for those first few weeks, even if they’re not sleeping loads at night. They sleep, wake, have a feed and by the time they’re done they’re ready to go to sleep again. What a life! Sounds like my hungover weekends circa 10 years ago… *sobs*
Then BOOM they hit about 16 weeks and decide sleeping’s for cheaters. Literally. You realise this as you gently cuddle your little one until he’s dropped off for his lunchtime nap, as you’ve done countless times before, then slowly go to put him down and BANG. Wide awake. WTF!? But I need the loo!!! I’ve been holding it in since 7.15am this morning!!!
Haha. Forget it. Forget the loo. Forget finishing off that soggy piece of toast you didn’t have time to eat this morning. Forget that Judge Rinder’s about to start. Sit here in silence with little one uncomfortably strewn across your middle for the next hour and a half. AND DON’T MOVE.
Ok, so initially you’re thinking, so what, big deal, if he doesn’t sleep now he’ll definitely sleep well tonight. So that’s got be a win right?
As Chandler would say ‘Could I possibly BE any more wrong!?” (Ah remember when you actually had time to watch Friends re-runs, one after the other, for hours, with the sound up and no subtitles on? …I miss Friends… *sighs*).
Let’s fast-forward to 4pm, little man’s a little bit more grouchy than usual, nothing you can’t cope with, you think, hubby will be home in 2 hours. This is totally do-able.
But believe me, it’s not – the next two hours will be the LONGEST TWO HOURS OF YOUR LIFE! Welcome to THE WITCHING HOUR.
Little man quickly goes from slightly grouchy to full on this-child-can’t-possibly-be-mine foaming at the mouth alien creature. Right this second you’re wishing you could magically summon the Goblin King to whip him off to that bleeping castle – you’ve even got the sodding red striped babygrow if that helps your cause!!! (Side note: remember David Bowie in THOSE tight trousers..!?).
The Witching Hour. It WILL destroy you. And it WILL lead to the consumption of at least a bottle of wine. And a G and T. Or five.
‘It’s ok, it’s ok’ you cry out to no one in particular. No one could possibly hear you anyway over the wails coming from the gremlin you’re madly rocking back and forth like a loon. ‘Daddy’s on his way home, he will SAVE us!’
And magically, as if he just knew, you hear your phone beep and see his name on the display and open the message hoping he’s going to tell you he’s 5 mins away with a bottle of Rioja.
And then you see it. Those five words which have the instant power to send any mama waiting for her tag team partner into full on meltdown crisis mode:
IM RUNNING A BIT LATE.
Don’t think the gin’s going to cut it tonight – time to dig out the bottle of sherry hidden at the back of the cupboard left over from Christmas.
So you see that’s why I spent most of my first two years as a mama willing my boy to sleep, getting him to sleep and keeping him asleep by ANY means necessary. No talking, no moving, no breathing, no BLINKING within a 5 meter radius of our sleeping child. When monkey was napping you were simply not allowed to do anything. In fact, for your own sake you’d better just stay the f*ck away from him. Trust me, my husband’s been on the receiving end of ‘the look’ far more times than he can remember; you REALLY don’t wanna go there…
So here I am now with my second baby, re-living this naptime nightmare all over again. However this time around I’m also having to learn a brand new set of naptime rules. Toddler rules.
This is FUN.
So whilst you spend your child’s first two years moving heaven and earth to make sure they have these nice long naps – you spend the next year or so trying to get them to sleep as little as possible in the day.
Because OF COURSE the rules have reversed now. Toddler naptime is a very finely tuned art.
If toddler sleeps too long in the day or has what my mama friend calls a ‘Danger Nap’ (any nap after about 2.30pm) I can safely wave bye-bye to my evening glass of wine and Netflix binge. I’ll be watching Peppa s*dding Pig on repeat until it’s gone way way past what is usually considered an acceptable bedtime. Or even the kind of bedtime hubby used to think was acceptable after a not-so-quiet drink with the boys….
If he naps too early, you get an extended director’s cut of The Witching Hour (so yes I am THAT mama pulling mini bags of Haribo out of her bag at 10.30am to try and stop the little s*d from nodding off in Boots whilst I am queuing to buy MORE Mickey Mouse plasters because he’s decided to launch himself off the patio table into the padding pool, AGAIN.)
So I find myself simultaneously trying to keep one child asleep and the keep other from sleeping.
Is it meant to be this hard?
Thank the Gin Gods I do have that small amount of time just after lunch where baby AND toddler can have a little sleep together.
The toys are tidied, ANOTHER load of washing put on, post-nap activity is set up, dinner prepped and I might, MIGHT even have time for lunch and a coffee.
I savior it. I love it. I am terrified. Toddler is fast approaching that time when he won’t have any daytime nap at all and I have absolutely NO idea how my daily routine, my house and my sanity will cope.
I know it will come and pass as all milestones / hurdles have and it’s soon enough just part of everyday life. We learn, we adapt and we live. But for now I am more than happy, in fact I INSIST that naptime dominates us all for just a little bit longer…
I need time to prepare my liver.