My poor third child.
My husband and I say this to each other daily. Because it’s never about her.
Stopping to nurse in a comfortable place? Not so much. Reorienting our day around her nap schedule? Maybe once or twice. Reading several books before naptime? Well, considering most of her naps happen in the Ergo or the car seat… nope.
But, one thing that DOES matter? Bed time.
My older children are ages 4 and 2. They share a room and, subsequently, a bedtime. Baths, pjs, read books, and down they go. But, I was finding, since baby girl was holding on to a short third nap each day, she was able to stay up a few hours later than her brothers… which, ostensibly, doesn’t work for us.
I am normally pretty flexible. I don’t know if I come by this naturally, or if kids have forced me into this strange arena of learning to go with the flow. But, it seems as if every night around 7:30 when I kiss my boys and close their bedroom door, my brain is DONE. I sit on the couch and stare at the wall for a good twenty minutes before I am able to start helping my husband clean the kitchen or do a little work or go for a run. Whatever parts of my brain are needed for actively engaging children tap out at this point in the day. Sweet daughter, however, missed this memo.
So, my husband and I realized that, while that third nap was conveniently during dinner time and it IS easier to eat a meal without holding a needy baby, we really needed to coordinate her bedtime with her brothers’ bedtimes. And, for us, that meant encouraging her to drop that third nap.
My daughter is ten months old, so maybe it was time for this anyway. But for me to accomplish this, it meant trying to be more scheduled with her other naps. I needed her to be able to power through until bed time. But, since that was going to be a stretch, I also needed to make the boys’ bedtime a little earlier.
We are STILL working out the kinks to this (isn’t that all that parenting is? Reacting and working out kinks?) but the major impetus for dropping the third nap was that we realized our brains needed to be done with all of the kids at the same time in the evening.
Sure, I still take care of them when they get up in the middle of the night, but that requires a different mental capacity. For us, aligning their schedules was necessary for saving our sanity, which makes us better parents.
Kara Garis is a cloth-diapering, baby-wearing, semi-crunchy mama to two active boys and a baby girl. She lives with her husband in Oklahoma and loves running, cooking, traveling, reading and teaching herself how to braid. She blogs very infrequently at karagaris.blogspot.com.