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The Benefits of Nap Free Days

20/04/2016 12:33

Yes you have read the title correctly, in this post I will be digging deep and finding some silver linings around the perceived dark cloud that is the end of your child's daytime naps.

My son (now 2 ½) has never been the best napper in the world...we've had our moments of nap-heaven of course - but short-lived moments. Most of his babyhood was a bit hit and miss with catnaps and hours spent sling wearing, pushchair rocking and going quietly insane. I could often be heard muttering 'I can't wait for him to not need a nap anymore'...my wish was granted at the merry age of two...slightly earlier than both the expert recommendations and most of his peers.

You may wonder why I spent 80% of my waking hours before this point either trying to get him to sleep or worrying about getting him to sleep next...I mean surely I had better things to do!? Well perhaps, but if you've read even half of the same baby 'expert' info that I have then you will know that poor naps = poor brain development, nighttime nightmares, illiteracy, juvenile delinquency, inability to hold down a job in adulthood and the possible breakdown of ANY future relationships. At least I think that's what they were saying...

Aaahh the stress!

Which leads us nicely on to the first in my list of benefits:

Less Stress
There is still a little quiver of worry because said child is now not napping at all and this could lead to any of the problems listed above. BUT there isn't the daily (twice daily, sometimes three times daily) pressure points of trepidation in the approach to naptime and acute stress in the execution of naptime. For that I am grateful.

Fewer moments of crushing disappointment
Despite knowing my son as I do and knowing our mediocre nap success rate I still ALWAYS made mental plans about what I could do/achieve during his naps. Even if I told myself not to expect a nap, part of my disobedient brain wouldn't listen and in the midst of rocking (my son, although sometimes me. In a corner. Rocking) I'd fantasise about 90 minutes of relaxation or accomplishment enhanced with the wonderful feeling of parental success that goes with a sleeping child... Suffice to say I was often disappointed.

I no longer have to worry about these lows, there is no expectation of 'me' time in my day anymore.

Earlier bedtimes
We were getting to a point where there just weren't enough hours in the day for my son's 'awake' time. Bedtime was getting pushed later and later, it was getting a bit ridiculous! We are now at the sociable sleeptime of roughly 7pm which leaves a lovely evening for all those grown up things you wait to do all day like drink wine and watch television and sleep. Hmm, note to self: use early evenings to be more productive?

More peaceful bedtimes
Since losing the naps bedtimes have improved immeasurably. He's tired but not exhausted and the bedtime and sleeptime feels like the right time for his body and brain.

Easier to plan the day
No more rushing to get home for a nap or nervous late afternoon drives hoping he doesn't fall asleep in the car. No, we are now free to plan our days around...well food actually. We can go on day trips, mornings out, afternoons out, whatever takes our fancy. There's absolutely no chance of him dropping off to sleep at any point so the world of 8am to 6pm is our oyster.

Inventive quiet time
When we are not travelling round the country like a miniature wide awake circus we do make sure we have a good few moments of quiet in the day, often after lunch. We've discovered new books to read, created worlds of imagination with drawing, cuddled up to Disney films and I've relived my childhood with the Peg Mosaic. We've had some really special times which, as preschool and school make their unstoppable march towards us, I know I'll look back on and cherish.

Washing the cot accompaniments
In the heady days of naps getting the blanket, favourite pyjamas and selection of cot friends washed, if required, and back in action for bed was a race against time. Now? Oh I've got all day to get things clean if they need it, ALL day.

Quieter swimming pool
This probably extends beyond the swimming pool, but if you go to my local leisure centre at around midday midweek you can be almost guaranteed to have the baby pool to yourself. I can only assume the other toddlers and babies are having lunch or, you know, SLEEPING.

So there you have it, perhaps not the longest list in the world but if you are in the shaky place of 'nap-dropping' I hope these serve as a few little glimmers of hope in what can be sold by some as a disastrous development.

Lucy also writes at occupation: (m)other where this post was originally published.

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