It’s been the absolute end of an era this month. I’ve had to say a very reluctant, sobbing goodbye to my favourite part of the day, Harry’s 2 & 1/2 hour nap.
It was a glorious time where Harry would actually sleep heavier than he did at night. I could get all my adulting done in that space of time, with some to spare!
I can sling tea in the slow cooker, browse the sales at Cath Kidston, paint my nails, listen to a new album, actually get to blow dry my hair and not have to let it air dry in weird waves (it looks like Eleven’s hair in Stranger Things 2 if it’s not treated nicely), play Destiny 2. But also I can do things like make important phone calls without Harry doing fart noises and shouting “Cat!” at me. It’s gorgeous, well deserved time to myself where I can be as selfish and chilled out as I need to be.
However, I got too comfy with this lovely time.
After a while of these long naps, everything changed with his sleep overnight and his bedtime. He started being a total nightmare and staying up until 10.30 pm. We tried effing everything. Bath time, reading a book, warm milk at the right temperature and in the right cup. We tried giving him a
piece of toast in case he was hungry and that was keeping him up. I was doing my best to tire him out physically and mentally during the day but there’s only so much you can do. I got him ‘helping’ me with chores, we had drawing, Lego time and going for walks on the reins instead of in the buggy.
I thought that because of the old adage ‘sleep breeds sleep’ that I was doing the right thing by letting him have these king-size naps. After all, if he was staying asleep that meant he needed it, right?
AaaahahahahahahahahaHAAAAAAA!!!!!!! WRONG!!!!! Just when you think you’re getting used to this stage of toddlerhood and you start to think “Oh, maybe I’m not actually such a shite mum after all?”, everything changes again. Just to keep you on your Mummy-standard-issue-Converse clad toes.
I knew, I knew deep down that he was having too much sleep during the day. But I needed that time to get shit done. So, I ignored the niggling feeling. I buried it along with the chance of any alone time spent with my husband in the evenings. For a few weeks, we barely had a conversation with each other that wasn’t about Harry or household banal minutiae. We started getting snappy at each other out of frustration, as is often the case. Our evenings were spent battling with Harry just to get him to calm down. He was so hyper and just didn’t get why we were putting him in his pyjamas and trying to give him his milk and get him settled. When it got to 10 pm we would just give up, and exasperated, we would bundle him into the car and drive him up and down the bypass until we could just carry him upstairs, sleeping, to bed. Then at about 1 am, he would wake up and want to come to bed with us. We were all exhausted from having uninterrupted spurts of sleep. My shoulder permanently ached because I was stuck lying on my side at the edge of the mattress because of the 3 in the bed situation.
So finally, I cut his nap to 45 minutes. The problem virtually went away overnight. I was so angry at myself for not doing it sooner. But at the same time, there was something diluting the mummy guilt that’s part and parcel of this life we choose for ourselves. I can’t be all-knowing, I can’t have known what effect it would have to reduce his naps. And I really did deserve that time. So I found a way to still have a little bit of it. Every weekend now since The End of The Long Naps, because my husband’s at home, I can grab an hour to just be on my own and listen to my audiobook or have a bath. Also In The Night Garden has 30 minute episodes which is just enough time to read a chapter of a book or a Mumsnet thread.
I flew too close to the sun and enjoyed the time to myself far too much but now it’s so worth sacrificing that big nap if it means he’s in bed before 8 and we can watch a film and chat about something other than shopping lists or Harry being an asshole and throwing himself on the floor because I wouldn’t let him open and close the gate at the park. Everything in moderation has restored order to the house. Until the next developmental leap and it’s all Hellfire and shouting again. 🤯