Crib Notes: Naps Are Non-Negotiable

Abigail Green
At this moment, my 23-month-old son is upstairs in his crib, wailing miserably. He is complaining because he does not want to take a nap. Until three days ago, Miles was a solid afternoon napper. You could set your watch by his schedule: lunch, then a book or two, asleep by 1 p.m. No muss, no fuss. Usually I wouldn’t hear a peep out of him before 3 p.m. On rare occasions, he would indulge in a three-hour nap, leaving me with a whole hour of unexpected free time. Hallelujah!

As a work-at-home mom, I have come to count on my son’s naps. I schedule my life around them-literally. The minute he’s tucked in, I usually head straight to the computer and get to work. If I have phone interviews to do, I schedule them for 2 p.m., smack dab in the middle of naptime so I can be assured some peace and quiet. Except now, all bets are off.

Wouldn’t you know it, the very day my child decided to give up naps was the very day I had taken on a big assignment with a tight turn-around time. Two assignments, actually. I thought that between his two mornings at the babysitter’s and those daily naps, I could surely get my work done. Ha!

I used to be able to take on as many writing assignments as possible. Supporting myself as a single, self-employed writer, I was well aware of the feast-or-famine nature of freelancing. I never wanted to pass up an income opportunity lest I be faced with a “famine” the next month. So maybe I was extra busy for a little while. It wasn’t a big deal; I had nothing in my life that couldn’t be put off in the short term.

Until I had a baby, that is. I quickly discovered that infants aren’t all that flexible about waiting for their next feeding until Mommy’s finished sending out one last email. They don’t seem to understand the concept of deadlines and how unexpected illness can affect Mommy’s ability to meet them. And frustratingly, babies refuse to alter their sleep habits to fit your schedule. For the first time in my life, I was turning down assignments, asking for extensions, and working evenings and weekends. It’s only by the grace of God and caffeine that I still haven’t missed a deadline.

Now, my son is almost two. I’ve settled into a new work routine as he’s gotten more predictable and adaptable (though no more patient). And then, as children tend to do, he goes and changes again. So I’ll have to figure out a new way of working around my family’s schedule. Maybe I’ll hire a sitter a few more hours a week. After all, more assignments equal more income. Or maybe I’ll simply continue to enforce naptime, despite my stubborn toddler’s protests. Come to think of it, I don’t hear any more squawks coming from upstairs.

Abigail Green is a freelance writer in Baltimore. Over the past 10 years, she has written for national, regional and online publications including AOL, AAA World, Bride’s, Baltimore Magazine, Cooking Light and Health. Her latest project is raising her first child, which she chronicles in her blog Diary of a New Mom Abby teaches the class, Personal Essays that Get Published for Writers on the Rise.


1 Response to “Crib Notes: Naps Are Non-Negotiable”

  1. 1 Eliza July 22, 2008 at 4:10 am

    My daugter went through the same thing — but I made a point to keep naptimes the same (for us it’s 2-5pm) becasue I, too, need that time. If I toss some books in the crib with her she’s perefectly happy, usually.

    But she did suddenly decide “No naps!” And I said, “Heck, yeah, naps!” We did extend the pre-nap ritua: two or three picture books or a chapter in a storybook, four songs (more if I’m feeling generous), and then she tells me, “Time for bed.” Even that little bit of extra cuddle time helps her transition.

    Only, by the time we’re done singing, -I’m- yawning and ready for a nap!

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