Thursday, April 10, 2008

The nap dilemma

I've always ordered our life around my kids sleep schedules. Nay-sayers around me have wondered why I "let them control my schedule" or other absurdities. The reality is, they need naps and they need them at particular times - much like they need food and they need it at particular times. I'm big on naps and big on bedtimes and I don't like messing with either. I've paid the price in the past for slacking on sleep.

It does, however, pose a problem now that it didn't when D was the napper. I was happy to forego toddler gym or swim class if the only classtimes available were going to interfere with D's nap. I figured that his nap was more important than any class we might go to, so if there wasn't a scheduled activity that worked with our schedule, we just didn't do any. And that was fine.

Now I have two kids, and although I wouldn't have thought this a year ago, it's actually easier since D no longer naps. But G does, twice a day at this point, with no signs of giving up the morning nap anytime soon (not that I'd expect it at this age). So I'm faced with trying to schedule things for D, but doing so around G's nap needs.

Enter a bit of mommy guilt.

Honestly, I'm not one to wallow in guilt over everything, but balancing the needs of two kids has really made the guilt monster rear its ugly head. It was far worse when G was a newborn, but with some time, a little more sleep and a lessening of those insane pregnancy hormones, I was able to pull myself free from the idea that I'd ruined D's life by having another baby (and idea the logical side of myself always knew was preposterous, but try telling a postpartum woman anything logical and see what happens). However, I do feel pangs of guilt now and then and I start to question how I've prioritized things.

D has the markings of a pretty athletic little guy. His dad is; he has that physical quality that completely elludes me, enabling him to learn a physical skill with so little effort and so much grace. Naturally, my husband is over the moon seeing the beginnings of what may be a good athlete in his son and wants to do everything we can to nurture that side of him. I'm all for it too, considering D is a wild animal and needs regular exercise, much like a dog needs a walk each day.

We have him in preschool gymnastics, which he LOVES; but we only have him in one day a week. My husband takes him since it tends to fall right at G's afternoon naptime. But my husband loves taking him and he's even going to be the parent volunteer this session (and I totally realize how lucky we are that his work location and schedule allows him such a luxury at 2:15 each Friday). But I can't help but feel a little bad that it isn't me, his stay-at-home-mom, who is taking him; and that we don't have him in one of the two day a week classes, since he loves it so much.

Then the other day D was showing my husband how he learned to kick a ball at a run, and kick it pretty straight. We were both suitably impressed and my husband said something about wishing we could get him into some kind of sports, in addition to his gymnastics. I told him about the Itty Bitty Sports class at the Y, and of course my husband couldn't imagine why I hadn't signed him up yet! But the classes are at 9:15 and 9:45 twice a week - again, right at G's typical naptime.

So I'm faced with the dilemma - do I go ahead and sign D up for the class next session, push out G's nap and hope for the best? Or go with the status quo and stay home, since G needs his nap then.

It doesn't help my overthinking brain that G's nap schedule is fairly loose, in that it tends to vary a bit depending on what time he wakes up in the morning, and the afternoon nap varies based on how long his morning nap is. I wish I had a regular, like-clockwork baby, but he isn't. So some mornings, it might work just fine to have a later morning nap, since even if we were home all morning, he wouldn't be napping until later anyway. But there are plenty of other mornings when he needs that nap around 9am - the last several days, for example.

I'm stuck with feeling a little bit bad no matter what I do - I feel bad for D when I don't sign him up for something cool I know he'd love, but I feel bad for G when I put off his nap so D can go to a class.

It isn't that I'm feeling awful about it or anything. But it's been on my mind lately. I know there are plenty of moms who don't pay such particular attention to their kids nap schedules; who wouldn't hesitate to sign their older kids up for a class and just tote their little ones along, cranky or no. But I have a hard time doing that. And I know there are plenty of kids that don't get to do classes and they certainly are fine for it. I know my mom rarely had me in anything and I turned out ok. But I know D would have so much fun, and sometimes I feel like maybe I'm taking the nap thing too seriously for my own good. But then again...

Just me, overthinking things once again.


Mandy said...

You're trying to balance what's best for both and that's a hard thing to be sure.

I know you want to be the one to take D for his class, but it is so neat that he and his dad can do that together. Men are often unable to do such things due to work life, and I'm so glad he can do this. It's something they can do together as father and son, and that's pretty special. If you can, try to focus on that part of it vs feeling guilty over not being the one to take him.

I'm learning (though often have to remind myself) that a good way to get myself out of overthinking mode is to as "What's the worst that could happen?" (Now, careful about using that in bad situations or health stuff...avoid that question at all costs.)

What's the worst that could happen if for right now D is only in the one class? I doubt he's getting half the fun by only going once when he *could* go twice, kwim?

The itty bitty class could be great fun for him, but combined with two days a week at gymnastics if you did that could potentially be too much scheduling. If he's meant to have an interest and aptitude for sports, not taking a class as a three year old certainly won't hamper that. If it's something you guys really want to do, is there another place that offers it at a different time for a comparable price and would be convenient?

You could try to mess with the G-man's naps, adjusting them....and you could experiment with that before deciding...but I understand your hesitation to do so. If he's flexible enough that it would still work, fine, but if not I can't blame you for picking sleep over sports. The fact is, there's always time to add in an activity such as this, but the chance to get your baby the sleep he needs and keep your sanity is not something to be overlooked.

G won't always have two naps a day. Eventually he'll get to one, and like you said there will almost always be tradeoffs where both need or want something and you have to decide which makes more sense.

I know, I'm no help. LOL

So, I'll leave you with this.

What would you tell me to do?

Mandy said...

Oh and maybe I should add one other thought.

While there may be activities that could still achieve activity, exercise and a sport like atmosphere for D (at home, at another gym, whatever) - there's nothing that can substitute for sleep.