Why I Took Away Naptime
I want to share my experience as a new mom and why I took away my daughter's naptime.
I came across a book called “The 7 O’clock Bedtime” by Inda Schaenen. It’s a brilliant perspective on moms taking charge of their lives and creating a structure that allows everyone to thrive. Too many times we moms forget about our own health and wellness because we feel “it’s what we are supposed to do for our family.” RUBBISH I say!
The reason why I got the book is because I needed validation for putting my daughter to bed at 7:00pm (sometimes earlier) because this child did NOT like naps and getting up at 4:00am with no break during the day…well, let’s just say I wanted to poke my eyes with searing hot daggers by dinner time. Yeah this was not helping with my postpartum depression. (see my post below on my struggle with postpartum depression)
My husband (now my ex) was resisting the schedule I had created and wanted me to keep her up until he got home which ranged anywhere between 7:00pm to 11:00pm depending on the season (his job was seasonal) and if he had one of his “meetings” after work. This full-time mommy gig proved to be extremely challenging for me and I was barely hanging on as it was. Having to adjust my newborn’s schedule to accommodate his, was simply not something I was willing to do. I mean I was conflicted about it because I wanted him to see his daughter but, as usual he wasn’t willing to meet me halfway. It was a sore subject… among many. I feel another post comin’ on: “Being Married To A Narcissist”; I will save that for a different day.
Back to Claire’s sleep schedule…
From birth, my daughter was not a good sleeper or napper. It was a struggle to get her to go to sleep and, it took me a while to catch on, but she is the type of child/person that once she was up - she's up, never to fall back asleep again. I did everything you're supposed to do but nothing was working. I finally connected the dots as to why she wasn't sleeping through the night, when we went away for the weekend. She slept through the night for the first time EVER (five months old)! YAY! I noticed the room she slept in was toasty warm.
So I thought the reason for her not sleeping through the night at our house, may be because it was too cold in her room. My husband (now my ex) kept the furnace really low at night and the temperature in the house got to about 55 degrees. Okay, ya I'll blame him.
I knew it was cold in her room but I didn't know what to do because I read/heard that you shouldn’t bundle up newborns in blankets for fear of SID’s. You can’t put them on their stomach for fear of SID’s. You can’t put large-ish stuffed animals in their crib for fear of SID’s, etc. So on top of all the mommy fears of possibly killing my baby that I had to contend with, I also had to contend with her waking up several times a night because she was freezing and her little fingers were like ice cubes. Oh, and her room was the coldest room in the house, as luck would have it.
When we got back from our trip I put a space heater in her room and once I was able to get her to sleep (which was always a struggle), she was down for the night. Praise all things holy! I felt like a horrible mother though and this was not helping with my postpartum depression.
Once I got that figured out things were better at night. I still had struggles with getting her to sleep, and had to do the whole sleep-training thing (which was horrible) but eventually once she was asleep at night, she slept through the night.
Everything based around sleep was an issue with her. I felt she didn’t get enough sleep. No matter what time I put her to bed, she was up between 4-5am and she didn’t take adequate naps. The reason I know this is because everyone I talked to, their children were sound asleep. Friends and family with children never complained of their child’s lack of sleep. I had to plan parties and get togethers around everyone else’s naptimes. I felt like we were constantly waiting for kids to wake up before we could do anything. Even though it was no one’s fault, it was annoying and frankly I was jealous.
I tried everything to get her to nap. If someone suggested it, I tried it. A good friend of mine put her kids down for naps at 11:00am and her kids slept until 3:00pm, and then would be ready for bed by 8:00pm and sleep until 7:00am the next morning! I was fifty shades of green with envy. Just think of how much I could get done if my daughter slept for 15 hours a day!
I tried many variations of the below schedule for two years, but this is basically how it went on most days:
- Starting with a bath at 7:30pm, a story, in bed by 8:00pm. Claire wakes up between 4am and 5am. Put her down for a nap around 9am or 10am because she looks tired but not over-tired.
- In her bedroom I can hear her moving around and making noises for an hour, then she eventually falls asleep. Forty minutes later, she wakes up screaming.
- People assured me once I put her on solid food, she would sleep better. NOPE!
- As she got older I tried to adjust this schedule to figure out what worked and what didn’t but nothing ever worked consistently.
For about a three month period she was falling asleep in the car. I was so excited! But, alas, when I transferred her from the car to her crib, she would instantly wake up and never fall back asleep again. So, for a while, I just drove around if she fell asleep in the car. And then she just stopped falling asleep in the car.
Frankly, it got ridiculous because it took an hour for her to fall asleep, she’d sleep for 40 minutes, wake up screaming and be all out of sorts (cry, whine, temper tantrum) for two hours afterwards.
Throughout the first two years, I was losing my mind. I wish I had the foresight just to roll with it but I wasn’t that type of person and postpartum depression had a hold on me for the first 18 months. I felt like I was doing something wrong and it was going to affect her in negative ways if she didn’t get enough sleep (which would affect me in negative ways). Plus pushing things to work the way I wanted them to work was more my style back then. It’s kinda freeing that I can admit that now.
Famous Einstein quote: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result.”
I continued to struggle with her sleep problems because I was determined to get this child on a regular sleep schedule because that’s what I was supposed to do…and everyone else was doing it…and I wanted to “fit in”.
Finally after her 2nd birthday I decided enough was enough so I stopped with the insanity and pulled the naps out of our day. It wasn’t worth the aggravation anymore. All of the mommies around me still had their kids on sleep schedules throughout the day so we had to entertain ourselves while all the other kids were sleeping. So we went shopping (lots of shopping), the library, the park, the zoo, the movies, the farm, we did crafts (lots of crafts), we read (lots of reading), we baked, etc.
By 6:00pm Claire was exhausted and ready for bed.
This book helped me understand that everyone has their own way of doing things and it’s truly about whatever works for you. This turned out to be the best thing for me and Claire. We had so much fun during the day. The stress of naps faded away as I looked forward to dinner because after dinner, it was a bath, a story, then bed. Claire’s dad wasn’t happy about it but 2 outta 3 of us ain’t bad right?
I had to get to a place where I stopped letting the judgment of other people rule how I lived my life. I still had a lot of work to do on that subject (see my post below about People Pleasers) but in this case, for survival reasons, I had to do it my way. I received a ton of flak from a lot of people but this was how I had to do it for my own sanity and what was best for Claire.
The “The 7 O’clock Bedtime” is a short (five chapters), easy read and the author, Inda Schaenen, talks about how she got laughed at, scorned, was called a control freak, etc. but she charged on because it worked for them. It’s packed with many inspirational words and situations that I could relate to during a very difficult time in my life.
On page 71 she gives helpful tips on how to change your children's current schedule if they are older because it can be a challenging transition at first. But it can be done if it's something that will help you and your family.
She discusses the topic of sleep and sleep disorders in today’s children due to over-scheduling, homework, etc and consults MD’s and PHD’s for their expert advice. Even though it was published in 2001 I think it’s still relevant today.
You can find it on Amazon here.
If you’re struggling, please remember to find what works for you and even though I know it’s hard, don’t let anyone make you feel like you are abnormal. Well, I take that back…be proud of your abnormalities and screw everyone else! Be You Mommies!
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It's 7:05pm so go grab a glass of wine (or tea, hot cocoa) and slip into a hot bubble bath and enjoy the silence!