To schedule or not to schedule?! The idea of having some kind of routine for Gia crept into my mind during the first few weeks after taking her home from the hospital. I read a couple of sleep solution books prior to Gia being born, in anticipation of being so sleep deprived myself that the last thing on my mind would be a book.
I’ve always been someone who likes a routine and babies and little ones like it too — or so I’ve read. 🙂 For the sake of making sure Gia was/is happy, thriving & rested, I adopted a schedule for her. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but what I figured was best was to follow Gia’s cues. And when I say schedule I’m primarily talking about a sleep schedule.
Over the last year and a half we’ve gotten a rhythm and have a pretty good system that works for us. Nowadays, Gia takes one nap around noon and will usually sleep until 2:30-3 pm. I prefer to be home for her naps so she can be better rested by sleeping in her crib, as opposed to sleeping on-the-go in the car or in her stroller. That’s not to say that we don’t do that occasionally, but it doesn’t work as well for us.
Over-tired and out to dinner:
Here’s a little secret: I’ve always been in awe of the parents who are “no-schedule” kind of schedulers. I think it’s because I wish I could be a little bit more like that. You know what I mean….fly by the seat of your pants, take every minute as it comes kind of thing. That’s just not how I’m wired, but I’m working hard to bring more of that free spirited attitude into my life.
Again, I know there is no wrong way to do things when it comes to a schedule for your child, or lack there of one. I just like learning from the ways that other parents do it, so I can see if it works for my family too.
The reason why a set nap time in her crib works best is because Gia does not transfer well from the car to her crib. I’ve successfully transferred her mayyyybe two times in her life. For me it’s just not worth having an over-tired, cranky toddler by the time 4 pm rolls around, especially since days as a stay-at-home parent can feel long when they don’t go smoothly. (Days are long for anyone – working parent, stay-at-home parent, etc.) I know for a fact that people think I’m strict about how our day goes with Gia, but I really don’t care anymore. What works for us may or may not work for others and there’s nothing wrong with that.
This is the “no nap” look:
What I do know about making sure Gia gets adequate day time sleep is that she sleeps well at night because of it. She’s always been a good little sleeper, but if I make sure she’s happy and rested it makes life so much easier for me.
A typical day with no exciting plans usually looks like this:
- 7 am Wake up
- Breakfast time + play time
- 9 am Gym (Gia plays in the daycare while we workout)
- 11 am Lunch time for Gia
- Play until nap time at noon-ish
- 2:30-3 pm Wake up
- Play + snack
- Run necessary errands or go to the park
- 5 pm dinner for Gia
- Bath time
- 7 pm Bed time
We went down from two naps to one nap per day for Gia pretty soon after her first birthday. She was fighting going down for her second nap of the day on a consistent basis, so I knew that was a sign to cut it down to one nap. That nap transition wasn’t the easiest because I felt limited in what we could get done in the morning. If we were in the car anywhere from 10 am on, that would result in falling asleep and hindering the sleep plan for the day. Not the end of the world, but still tough on mom, dad and toddler.
Now, we just make it work and I never feel deprived or as if I don’t get to go do anything with her because of our routine. I’m making a point to go out once a week where we just wing it through the day, as far as naps and a schedule goes. Many times this results in a challenging afternoon due to an over-tired 18 month old, but we are all learning how to deal with these curveballs. In a strange way, the days that naps go haywire are the days where my mental health is challenged and made stronger. See, I’m finding the positive in something that I would’ve considered negative.
I’m curious, do any other parents out there have any tricks up their sleeve regarding schedules and napping? What do you guys do when your child has skipped their nap? How do you make it until bedtime with minimal meltdowns? What do you do if you want to enjoy a day out as a family?
I know sometimes these hiccups are just par for the course, but I’d love to hear what works for others so we can try things out to see if they work for us too. We’re in this together!