Thursday, August 12, 2010

If You Don't Like the Schedule, Wait a Minute

I think it was Mark Twain who first said about New England, “If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute.” I am discovering that New England weather is not the only thing about which this is true. Babies' nap schedules fall smack dab in the middle of that category.

Just when Ryan had fallen into a neat (and predictable) pattern of napping from 10am until 11:30am or noon and again from 2:30 or 3pm until 4pm, he started working his way into a one-nap-a-day schedule. His morning nap lengthened itself to two hours or more and if he managed an afternoon nap at all, it was a 45-minute or hour-long catnap around dinnertime. And once I started getting used to that schedule, he started getting all over the map in terms of morning nap length – everything from a 45-minute power nap to three hours at a stretch! Sometimes he’d be ready to go down at 9:30am, sometimes not till 1 or 2 in the afternoon. Eventually he got into a semi-predictable pattern of one nap a day from 10:30 or 11am until 1 or 2pm. When we were in Iowa last week, he didn’t want to miss anything so he got by for four days in a row with no more than a couple of 45-minute power naps a day (usually in the car). And then yesterday, he took a three-hour nap in the morning and another hour-long nap in the afternoon! But today he had a single 45-minute catnap in the car and that was it. The real miracle is that even with his wildly varying naptimes, he’s still been very consistent about bedtime and wake time.

I guess this is God’s way of keeping moms on their toes. I can’t plan on having two hours of “free” time every morning any more. I can’t even plan on having two hours of “free” time in bits and pieces throughout the day! It definitely has created a need for a bit more organization and pre-planning on my part, but also a lot of spontaneity. No more waiting till naptime for a shower, or I might not get one at all. And if he’s contented in the playpen, I have to take advantage of that time for blogging or dinner prep instead of hoping he’ll nap at a more convenient time. I need to know exactly what I need to get done without a baby underfoot each day and be able to work those activities in at a moment’s notice when he’s either napping or happily playing alone. And of course, both nap time and happy alone playtime can expire without notice, so being able to stop any activity midstream is a necessity as well.

But the delightful flip side of the schedule unpredictability is the unpredictability of Ryan discovering new “tricks”. In the past week alone he’s waved, clapped, and given a kiss all on his own. (The clapping we can get him to repeat at will, the waving is pretty hard to reproduce, and the kiss may have been either a fluke or a badly aimed nibble.) So I’m more than willing to be flexible if it means that when I go to get him from the crib after an unexpectedly short nap I might see him standing unsupported in his crib for a few seconds, or that he’ll reach out to me for a hug when I come in his room, or even that I’ll get a big laugh and some applause when he sees me.

Besides, even if his schedule is too difficult to cope with for a few days, I know all I have to do is wait a minute.

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