Friday, July 26, 2013

Napping: A Cautionary Tale

In case I haven't mentioned it, bedtime with Jacob has been downright horrible for a while.  He used to be so great at going to bed, and then at some point, he wasn't anymore.  Over the years he's gone in phases for sure, but this particular phase was extra bad and extra long.  I used to quietly gloat about how good bedtime was in our house whenever I'd hear about the kids who endlessly needed to pee, needed another glass of water, etc.  Jacob wasn't like that.  But then he figured out that if he had to pee, we HAD to let him get up and do it.  We could deny water because he pees so much overnight (yep, he's still in a pull-up (though the big kid ones now), and the doctor says his brain and bladder just have to figure it out on their own)), but when he's sick that's a little harder...so another crack in the armor.  And slowly but surely the excuses grew.  And certainly since he's been in his new room, we've had to contend with a lot more.  He's hungry, he's thirsty, he's scared, he's having bad dreams (did you know you could dream before you actually go to sleep?  Me neither.), his light looks like it's going to come alive, he can't find an animal, he needs Daddy, and on and on and on.  Sometimes he feels the need to tell us something random or discuss something unimportant at the most inopportune time.  Even when he leaves us alone, you can always hear him up there playing with his animals.  And yes, I know that he'd have less distractions if we took them away, but dude, he's only five and I know I slept with animals for years.  Should we penalize him because he's creative with them?  I dunno.

Anyway, he's constantly been out of his room and won't go back unless we threaten or physically take him back.  It's been ridiculous.  We've taken away animals and Legos, moved up his bedtime...you name it, and yet every night it's a challenge.  And to top it all off, it's been going on for longer and longer into the night, to the point that he's barely falling asleep before we go to bed, sometimes as late as 10:30! 

Given that his behavior is an issue most of the time, I knew this couldn't be good.  In addition, sometimes he was waking up as early as 6:30 or so, and I knew that even with an afternoon nap at daycare, that wasn't enough.  On weekends at home, he's refused to nap for a while now, probably since mid-winter.  While his behavior isn't too bad on non-napped days, there have been a lot of times where we'll hop in the car to go out to dinner and he will fall asleep on the way.  Then he's impossible to wake up and gets a little hyper afterward.  Ugh.  So while I know he's not quite out of the need to nap, he still can be relatively functional without it.  We just have to stay out of moving vehicles if at all possible.

His naps at daycare have generally been an hour or two each day.  I think a lot of that was peer pressure and force of habit, more than actually needing one.  My fear, of course, is that without a nap, being at daycare all day with all that activity and stimulation would turn him into a monster by the end of the day.  At least at home on weekends there's a lot of mental downtime--TV, video games, low-key Lego playing--but at daycare there's stuff going on all day, and there are a lot of kids to keep him going.  I just didn't want his teachers dealing with a crazy child at the end of the day if they didn't have to. 

The other issue, of course, is that Kindergarten starts in another six weeks, and he won't get a nap there.  Gone are the days of grabbing your little rug and taking a break.  Heck, we did that in half-day Kindergarten when I was a kid!  But I didn't see any sign of naptime on his daily schedule at orientation, so I was a little concerned about transitioning him out of it before September. 

Well...the other night it hit me that perhaps he's not just trying to be difficult (though I'm sure that's part of it), but that he's simply not tired.  Even though he might seem tired, he's not tired enough to sleep.  So, I decided to ask at daycare for him to skip naptime.  A lot of other kids do it, and it's fine--they have other activities for them and it's all good.  And what happened?  Well...the first day he almost fell asleep standing up at Wegmans on the way home.  He kept sitting on the cart bottom looking pathetically tired and insisting he couldn't walk around the store.  But once we got past that, he was fine.  And after one or two excuses at bedtime, he was asleep within 15 minutes of bedtime.  Yesterday was t-ball, so I'm sure he had adrenaline on his side, but after 30 minutes at most, he was out, practically doing a face-plant.  Both mornings he's actually slept in much later than usual, giving credence to that whole "sleep begets sleep" theory, which I already wholeheartedly agreed with. 

So...yeah.  Turns out that naps are great things...until they're not anymore.  We'll see how this goes in the long run, but I'll admit I was pretty proud of myself 15 minutes after bedtime a couple nights ago.  It's nice to have one of those, "Hey, I actually figured out parenting for a split second" moments.  They're few and far between so it's great to get one when I can!

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