The Art of Nap-time

Every parent dreads that day when nap diminishes to the point where it is gone forever. I listen to the parents of three year old’s tell of “quiet time” in the child’s bedroom, or that have quit cold turkey and have absolutely no nap at all. It strikes fear into the deepest core of my being. I can’t give up that lone moment of peace, freedom, solitude to just get something done for myself. And I find myself currently in a unique situation. At two-years, four-months old I am watching Madden’s need for a nap slowly wane. I know soon enough he’ll be that three year old refusing to take a siesta. Fortunately, he is such a routine oriented little dude that he continues to go with the flow everyday around 1:00. We will see when he gets wise to us and realizes we’ve preyed on his rigid, by the book personality. On the other end of the spectrum, infant/alien Quinn just sleeps here, there, anywhere all day long. He’ll slowly transition into that blissful stage consisting of 2-3 naps a day, each one lasting about two hours. Unfortunately, for us this will most likely occur just as Madden has pushed us over the threshold of no nap hell. But here is where preserving that beautiful period of time that we call “the nap” turns into art.

I call it art, because like art, it is unique in many ways. This one child-free point in your day is your muse and you need to “create” an environment in which your child can stay asleep for AS. LONG. AS. POSSIBLE. Each household presents it’s own exclusive challenges that will be getting in the way of reaching this goal. Some questions that may help one determine their own challenges are: How many levels are in your home? Do you have pets? Does your child have siblings? Do you have any particularly loud chores to get done? Do you have an incredibly loud/high-pitched/annoying voice? Do you live within a mile of a nuclear power plant or airport runway? etc., etc., etc. Consider this your canvas. You have this slate in front of you and it is up to you to realize the full potential of it.

Just as an artist has inks, paints, chalks and oils, you then have your mediums as a parent. These are the maneuvers and lengths that you will go, to be sure that this house remains as silent as you can get it. I know that I have crafted a pretty involved and detailed plan to fend off sound from entering my house between 1:00-3:00 each day. I vow here and now to disown any animal, friend or family member that disturbs the silence.

I will say that most of my craft revolves around those mistakes dogs I keep referencing. At approximately 12:45 each day, every shade of the first floor is drawn. This is to prevent any possible visual contact Norman and Gert will have with squirrels. This is a crucial aspect, as their incessant shrill barking is sure to wake up not just Madden, but the children that live in the houses behind us as well.

I then walk Madden through our normal nap/bedtime routine. By now, he is out of his morning terror-mode and we are sailing on calm seas of love and happiness. Putting him down for the nap is never the problem. My second artistic “brushstroke” is the art of shutting the door. For some reason, I’ve always felt like the click of the door latching is going to send him into some panicked fight to escape his crib. I twist the door knob completely, slowly inch the door to a resting position against the jam, and then release the knob at a three degree turn per second until it is latched. All of this takes place with a near zero decibel level of sound. I’ve already left the dad-proof gate at the top of the stairs ajar, so I will not need to mess with that. I then float on a pillow of air down the stairs so quietly that Madden probably still thinks I’m right outside of his door each day.

I like to refer to my last technique as the “call-ahead”. If you plan to come to my house midday, you better expect to hear from me prior to your arrival. I use this call to inform you of something that is of the utmost importance. My son is sleeping. You best not wake him up with your visit. This is especially important in my circumstances, because I will gauge how close you are to my house. If you are within two miles, I most likely will take the dogs out and leave them there until you have pulled into my driveway. If you cause a disturbance in his slumber, you will be hanging out with a cranky two-year old and two incredibly annoying rat terriers while I drink a beer out in the Adirondack chair out front. You’ve been warned.

And like every artist, you have those pieces/days that you feel like you’ve produced a worthless piece of junk. There are those days when the boy just won’t nap.

And you might be saying, but if he is sleeping, just think of all the hours you’ll miss out on getting to enjoy your beautiful baby boy. I get it, I want to cherish every moment I have with him. I really do. But if you are saying this, then you clearly have not ever experienced Madden from 4:00 until bed; on those days he didn’t nap.