As a parent of a newly minted 3-year old, I have always kept to a rigid routine and schedule with naps and bedtime. For the most part, it has been successful for our family … except for a 1 – 2:30 p.m. nap smack in the middle of the day. That makes our weekends tough to navigate with planning outings to see our friends.
“Sure, we can meet for brunch … but we should meet around 11 so we can be done by 12:45.”
“Oh, we are so glad you guys are coming into the city, lunch won’t work so come over after …”
“Oh no, Jake’s buddy is having a birthday party from 12:30 to 2 p.m. –looks like we won’t be able to attend.”
As you can see, life is not always so simple when keeping to a rigid schedule.
Consequently, around 12:30 or 12:45 p.m. every day, we are excitedly discussing our plans for “after nap” and generally, our son willingly takes his nap. This breaks up our day into two parts:
Yesterday, our family was faced with a dilemma. We were invited to a close friend’s birthday party in Long Island and the party was from 12:30 to 5 p.m. I suggested to my wife on a few occasions that she should go ahead without us at 12:30 and we would meet her there around 3 p.m. after our son’s nap. My wife, who knows I am crazy about the sleep schedule and usually partners with me about this process (though I rarely give her enough credit) was unwavering in this particular case. Bottom line: At 1 p.m., I had to tear my son away from the pool party, pop him in the stroller for a neighborhood walk in the brutal heat, and was unsuccessful in getting him to sleep.
This got me upset because he truly needs an afternoon nap (and I need the break). He is almost a different person: moody, extra-sensitive, not as friendly as was the case. Now, you have me in a bent mood because he did not sleep, he was in a crap mood because he did not nap, and this dragged my wife down with us.
The reason why I am expressing this sob story is not for sympathy — I don’t deserve it. I am too serious about napping. Research says that by age 3, the majority (almost 90%) of children have given up their daytime nap. The nap disappears because most families cannot juggle it into their schedule, the child starts preschool, or because the nap has pushed their bedtime later which the parents do not want. All of that said, the research also states that all children should be napping until they are at least 4 years old.
Recently, the nap has me wondering if it’s all worth it. It is challenging for me because my son only naps in his stroller so there I am in 90+ degree heat pushing him around until he sleeps (then, parking him in our A/C’d apartment). My wife’s tolerance for planning our weekend days around the nap is dwindling. Then, I think about how nice it is to have a break in the middle of the day … and once the nap goes away … it never comes back.
We invite your feedback here – when is it time to kick naps to the curb and start living our lives more spontaneously again?