Naps…aahhh, such a great word in the Mom-vocabulary. Who would’ve thought such a small task of sleeping would make a big difference in everyone’s day? Certainly not I. As I was carrying Nick, my mind was filled with so many great ideas, one being I was going to get him to sleep through the night sooner than most infants. How was my big plan going to work? I won’t let him nap longer than 2 hours at a time. Ha! I’ll show everyone! I was going to be the Mom Saver!
Then I entered into reality and realized that plan was a load of diaper poo! Nick was like most other newborns…eat, sleep, poop. Repeat. Around the clock. I executed my plan flawlessly…nurse, sleep, change diaper, play a while. In my sleep deprived state I felt this was going so well… Until Nick had tantrums around 3:00 every afternoon. Why is my sweet little angel giving me fits?! Why can’t I calm this child down? Only after reading an article on “overtired babies,” did I realize what I was doing…I forgot to give Nick a nap!!! What kind of crazy mother would do that?
Now I see why naps are so important. It’s a way to let our bodies rest and reset our clocks. Babies need so much rest. I see now they sleep like cats. Nap all day, and stay awake at night. The problem is we Moms (and Dads) lose our sleep and the ability to function during the day.
Nick kept switching his routine up with me. Some days he’ll take 3 naps; sometimes 2 long ones. They would start at different times each day. It took me almost the entire first year to realize we need a routine and fast. I must plan EVERYTHING around his nap schedule, or my husband and I will be paying for it later.
So here are 10 things we do that WORKS! You’ll have to make your own routine because every child is different. Some needs more sleep than others. I do hope that you get some reassurance that you are not alone in trying to get your kids in a routine and this post gives you ideas on how to set up your own day!
1. Designate a wake-up time: You’ll soon discover what time your little one likes to wake up. Mine luckily likes the 7:00 hour. Sometimes it’s earlier and sometimes it’s later, but it’s usually within an hour of 7:00.
2. Keep activities to one part of the day: We run all of our errands and set up all play dates before lunch. This is when Nick is the most energetic.
3. Make sure your little one is well fed: No one likes to go to sleep on an empty stomach. Nick is a “grazer eater,” so he eats every 2-3 hours. Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, supper, light snack (usually milk and a cookie), bedtime.
4. Look for signs that your little one is tired: You’ll pick up those signs pretty quickly. Nick’s is yawning, rubbing his eyes, and getting cranky. If you can catch it early, he’ll fall asleep faster!
5. Don’t be afraid to let that napper keep napping: Nick’s naps are usually 2-3 hours long. He needs at least 2 to feel rested, but 3 makes him feel a lot better. It does affect his sleep at night, but in a good way! He isn’t overtired when it’s bedtime and sleeps longer.
6. Make his/her environment relaxing: Turn down the lights, play soft music, and turn your cell phone down. When your surroundings are relaxing, you are relaxed.
7. Get at least one good nap in at home: If you are go go go, then it’s always good to let your baby nap at home at least once during the day. Nick and I were always out and he slept a lot when I could carry him in his car seat, but waking up at home makes the day better!
8. Big kids needs down time too: We haven’t gotten here yet, but when Nick transitions out of naps all together, he still would need some down time. Your house should still be relaxing, but instead of napping, coloring or reading for at least an hour could work in everyone’s favor.
9. Nap in the same place: Nick loves his little seat, so he naps in it and sleeps in his crib at night.
10. This is your down time too: Once your little napper is off in dreamland, this is your chance to do what you want to do. Laundry, sewing, blogging, are some of the things I get done when he naps. It’s my time to do something for me.
***I’m not an expert, nor do I have a medical degree. I’m simply a Mom, and I want to share what I did to other Moms out there!***