Anyone who has a child that still needs a nap during the day will know that that sleep is important. Most other Mums I know who are in the same situation, don’t even need to say anything about timing. It’s a given that we have a window between 9am and 12pm for playdates, shopping, or catching up with our friends. And then at midday – boom! We’re all hermits. The parks and shopping centres of Brisbane all become bereft of toddlers and babies. Off we scurry home, secretly hoping that bub will fall asleep in the car so we can just transfer straight to bed (if you’re one of the lucky ones). For about two hours we are housebound, and then re-emerge between 2pm and 3pm. Those of us who have older ones in school, this means that we spend the two hours preparing for whatever after school activities that have been planned. Ballet, gymnastics, swimming lessons, playdates and the list goes on.
When I was pregnant I remember someone saying to me “please don’t turn into one of those Mums who can only do one thing a day”. I scoffed and swore that I wouldn’t be. And yet here I am. My ‘one thing’ a day, HAS to occur between 9am and 12pm in order for Little Warrior to be a nice Little Warrior in the afternoons. And if we have a nice Little Warrior, then we generally have a happy Mummy. And if we have a happy Mummy, then as we all know, everybody’s happy.
If by some chance, I’m still stuck out at midday, I can feel the anxiety rising inside me. I’m watching my little man for signs of complete meltdown and may as well be looking in a mirror when I see him start to yawn and rub his eyes. We are both so conditioned to his midday sleep that whenever something happens to change it, we don’t function very well. As with anything, you get through it. It doesn’t happen often when we’ve had to drop his sleep, but I keep reminding myself that it’s only every now and again and it won’t kill us.
Nobody gets it less than people who have never had, or don’t have toddler children anymore. It’s funny. I assumed because my friends had had toddlers before, that they would remember the days of getting bub home for a sleep. But recent experience tells me otherwise.
I have a friend who is from India. She's the loveliest person and also happens to make the most delicious food. I always enjoy eating there, so whenever she invites us over, I say yes. She has a daughter the same age as the Polynesian Princess, so for her it’s been about four years since there’s been a toddler in the house. She invited Little Warrior and me over for lunch and we arrived at about 10am. It was going to be an awesome morning. Gorgeous Indian food, then home in time for the little one’s sleep. Not so. The universe had different plans for the Diva and the Little Warrior that day. By 1pm my friend was still cooking and I saw the window of opportunity for Little Warrior’s sleep ticking by. Surrounded by delicious aromas coming from her numerous pots and pans bubbling away, my anxiety levels were rising. I was mentally calculating how long Little Warrior would get to sleep if we left in 30 minutes, in one hour. Such was my worry that he wasn't going to get a decent sleep. As it was, he got an hour’s sleep and didn't wake up when it was time to pick up his sister. I carried him like a rag doll up the steps of the school and he stayed that way until I put him back in the car for the return trip. The poor little thing was just shattered.
Another friend was recently trying to organise a lunch BBQ for a group of us. The other three families coming all have toddlers, and so I suggested a 10am start. Most of my friends with children would understand that a 10am start means lunch at about 11/11:30 and then home by midday or thereabouts. Just in time for a sleep, albeit a late one. But for this friend, it’s been a long, long time since she’s even had to think about, let alone remember babies who need a sleep. She was mortified at a 10am start! It’s now been pushed to 2pm, which sits on the other side of our nap-time and hence helps all us Mums a little more. I know. It’s complicated – but for those of us who like our kids to sleep, it’s innate.
One day in the not-too-distant future, the midday sleep will be dropped and we will emerge, blinking into the midday sun. That will be a joyous day! And no doubt, worries about sleep will be replaced with something else. But until then - time is of the essence.