Monday, August 11, 2008

The Importance of Keeping a Routine -Or- How I Became a Nap Nazi

it all started, some of you may recall, when my wee one was merely a few weeks old. he decided one day to be done with the phase of sleeping through anything and everything. he decided that he no longer wanted to sleep at all during the day. he decided to turn his mother into a basket case.

the struggles i went through to teach my son how to nap actually make me a sort of hero, in my own mind. i read SO many books, tried SO many tips and committed to SO many different methods that by now i think i'd be able to write my own book on getting babies to sleep. i would entitle it "Just Because it Worked for So and So's Baby Doesn't Mean it Will Work for Yours". in the end i credit the result of regular naps to three things:

1) God (every sentence i uttered during that time was basically a prayer for help)
2) my mom (who flew to my rescue)
3) a great little pill called Zoloft

those 3 things helped me to relax and truly commit to one method that i felt was right. once the routine was established, it worked like a charm. of course, there were set backs along the way and plenty of different phases and changes, but i have found that if the routine is adhered to as strictly as possible, everyone is happy. but i think i'm the happiest of all.

only recently have i discovered that a few of my friends get a kick out of how rigidly i keep to the nap routine. awhile ago, after spending a lovely hour and a half chatting over coffee, i looked at my watch and started getting my things together. "oh, it must be 11:00, heidi's leaving!" i heard one of them say. after church on sundays, i mingle for awhile, but with my legs constantly making steps toward the door, knowing that i need to get home and get tristan fed before he takes a nap. last week i was trying to make a routine dr's appointment for him and none of the times the doctor was available were working. i turned down 3 different appointments in favor of one over a month down the road just because i knew it wouldn't interfere with his nap time. that was when i began to question my own reasons behind keeping his routine so sacred. is tristan truly in need of such a strict routine, or is it only my own fears getting in the way?

i don't think the scars from the first 6 months of his life have quite healed yet, to be honest. i still shudder inside when i remember how tumultuous and overwhelming my life became. creating a routine took out so much of the guesswork for me and brought a bit of peace to my chaotic days. i rely on him taking a solid nap every day so that i can sit and unwind, do housework uninterrupted, or finally get a chance to update my blog. i feel i need that breath of silence before he is awake and running me ragged all over again. and i am afraid that if i veer off of the course we've been trekking, he will no longer adhere to the routine and i will lose that precious bit of time i call my own. so, you see, i think that i selfishly need him to nap almost as much as he needs it!

my flexibility was challenged to the utmost this past weekend. we got a call from some friends, inviting us to spend saturday at the beach with them and a few other families. it sounded like so much fun and...can you BELIEVE it...tristan has never been to the beach in his life!! josh isn't a huge beach fan, and i've never felt like taking him on my own, so i knew that it was definitely time to show him what the sea and sand are all about. the issue for me was, of course, figuring out how we were going to work his routine into the day. since he naps at noon and we were looking to meet there at 9:30, that would give us about 1 1/2 hours of beach time before heading back home, since its a bit of a drive. i knew it was ridiculous. josh knew it was ridiculous, but he lovingly didn't say anything and allowed me to make tristan's nap a priority over the fun we'd have. it was my dear mother who spoke some sense into me.

it was my mom's birthday on saturday and i called her to wish her a happy day. i told her of our plans and she very kindly, but slightly forcefully said, "heidi, don't. don't leave just because he needs a nap at a certain time. stay as long as you can and once he's had enough, he'll let you know. it will NOT ruin his day." you have no idea how radical this advice sounded to me. it went against everything inside of me that is structured and organized. inside i was screaming "NO!" but on the outside i said "mom, i think you're right." and so we did it.

tristan slept for about 20 minutes in the car on the way there, which was fantastic, since he had been up since 4:30am. he had such a great time digging in the sand, getting his toes wet and throwing seaweed into the ocean. he never fussed or moaned or rubbed his eyes. he was perfectly content to sit on the sand in his adorable elmo swimming trunks and watch the world go by. i had a wonderful time chatting with the ladies and josh probably had the best time of all of us, body boarding in the waves with his friends. when we decided it was time to go, only THEN did i look at my watch. tristan made it home without falling to pieces in the car, i put him straight to bed, sandy feet and all, and he napped peacefully for an hour and a half.

i have learned that i need to take a lesson from my son in how to be adaptable. i know you're all laughing at me right now, but i truly find this difficult! baby steps and deep breaths. i can do this!


kelly said...

Way to go, Heidi! I understand how big of a deal this is, as I really had to work through this myself when Taeya was younger. I still find myself trying to schedule days around her nap, but as she gets older, it has become so much easier. In fact, yesterday I let her skip a nap to visit on the beach with my brother- and sister-in-law, and on Wednesday she will fore go her nap to go to a fair with my parents.
We are learning, no?
Glad to hear you enjoyed yourself and that it worked out well :)

running wildly said...

Standing ovation for you, my friend! Well done. Glad your day turned out perfectly.

Janet said...

There is no doubt that you are trying to do the best for your son and yourself. It is all a learning process. I am still learning, I have two very different children and they are a very different stages in life. I understand the need for alone time. I just came to the conclusion that sometime things happen and nap gets pushed back or there is no nap at all, and I just roll with it.

I am glad that the beach was a good experience for all of you :)

I love being your friend and think it is cute when you have to leave for nap time, your a GREAT MOMMY!

Sara said...

Yippie Heidi!

Jennifer said...

No I wasn't laughing at stages will trigger difficult dicisions along the way. More practise of this being adaptable or open to changes are to come. Promise.

Now, had he not been feeling well or what have you there may have been other things to consider in your decision.
You did well.
And happy belated Bday to Grandma J.

Alvin & Denise Engler said...

LOOK at that SAND!

rachel joy said...

Good for you! But I also must say, good for you for finding a routine that works. Deep down I really admire (envy?) moms who can pull it off. I was more firm with my first, and way slacked off with my second. He's now 2 years old and I'm wishing I had found a routine. With 4 months to go before #3 comes, I know I need to make a plan!

Dena said...

Applause! Applause!! Being a mom is always such a learning experience, yes? I so glad you were able to have such a special day with your family. This is the stuff life is made of, don't miss out on it. Jay has always had to teach me to be more flexible, I WAY better than I used to be!

btk said...

Hey Heidi - no laughter here, only head shakes in understanding! Mercy only recently became okay with a "fly by the seat of our pants" routine. I was a clock watcher with her naps because she was a very difficult sleeper! I'm glad Tristan made it easy on you so you could enjoy your day. It will continue to get easier! (oh and hey, Koby has been completely different than Mercy so don't even THINK about dreading naptime fights for your next one!!! You probably won't have the same problem again!)

Andrea said...

Good for you being so adaptable.
But I'm also with you on needing to stick as closely as possible to a routine. It's just a matter of sanity.