There are a few things that go hand and hand with parenthood that my
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previous self would cringe at (accidentally using baby talk when in only adult company, being covered in various bodily excretions that aren't my own) but the most yawn inducing is the obsession with sleep.
Although seemingly as simple as either being awake or not awake, the reality is that this topic is really rather complex and open to many depths of analysis from mum's and dad's across the globe. Today, I'm going to focus on the daytime nap.
I have a heightened interest in this at the moment as Violet's daytime naps are few and far between and I find myself in a state of mourning for the mid-afternoon slumber. Unlike my adult self, as she's getting older she seems not to need a recharge to get through the rest of the day. That means my days are full on 'child'. You see, the daytime nap provides relief. It provides space to finally breathe, wash up with two hands or put the washing on without tiny hands insisting they put in the soap powder and of course, sprinkling it on the floor, thus turning one job into two. And, let's be honest, an over-tired toddler can be almost demonic. Not the best company.
I was much more relaxed about if/when nap time happened before April was born. After Prilly arrived I became almost obsessed with getting Violet to sleep, if only to give April some relief from being climbed on/snogged/having her ears sucked. It became an essential. Now, I've heard of children that can be put in their cot, awake, around 12pm and they'll drift off quietly for a pick-me- up doze. I do not have one of those children. Naptime is most successfully achieved when in transit. Therefore busy mornings are planned with the intention of Violet being so exhausted she'll fall asleep almost as soon as she’s strapped into her car seat. If her eyes still aren’t closed as we near home, we’ll just keep driving.
As it turns out, this method of sleep induction is not just used by me. It's highly popular among parents, which has me wondering if our congested roads are actually just made up of the desperately sleep deprived and their offspring. Are the majority of drivers at the traffic lights, like me, cursing the red bulb because there’s a temporary lull in movement and the whining has started again?
The decision to transfer the child from car seat to cot is not one to be taken lightly. It’s a gamble that evokes similar anxieties as putting everything you own on a horse whose name you like. Many a ‘I’m not feeling so lucky’ days have been spent sat on the driveway. The peace makes it worth it.
The nap is such a coveted thing that a lot of time has been spent trying to achieve it. I once circled our block twenty times with Violet in the pushchair and the baby in the carrier. Twenty times. The barking dog and the man hammer drilling his driveway must have thought I was mad. I was almost possessed. My tunnel vision of achieving the goal was so rigid that I didn’t twig it would have been the same amount of time, and far less dizzying, to walk down to the shop and get the milk we so desperately needed.
My other methods of encouraging a visit to the land of nod are a bit more current and fashionable. Firstly, there is the one where I try to instill a feeling of the Danish art of ‘hygge’. The lounge lights are dimmed, voices are soft, and calm. The small person is encouraged to lie on the sofa with a plethora of pillows and tucked under a soft blanket.
Warm milk is handed over, maybe even a scented candle is lit and Peppa Pig is put on the telly at a just audible volume. Then, I slowly back out the room very quietly so as not to disturb the atmosphere and hide somewhere until I’m sure the cozy vibes have done their job and she’s drifted off.
The second technique is inspired by the ‘yoga nidra’ section of the yoga class I barely get a chance to attend. Specifically, the ‘round of consciousness’. Violet is invited to listen to a made up story (the less lavish and entertaining the better) where eventually the main character needs a bath. This is where the yoga comes in: "Princess Violet then has a bath. She washes her first finger, second finger, third finger, fourth finger and fifth finger…. Her thigh, her calf, her heel…" and so it goes on until very body part has been ‘washed’. The combination of monotone story telling and bland plot line mean eye lids usually always close.
Oh daytime nap - how I will miss you. In fact, I’m worried what will become of me. But if you do return for a bonus day, screw the chores, I’m joining in.