Week 11: Lions and tigers and nap time, OR, my fear of play groups

For someone who has traveled the globe, hiked the wilderness, eaten horse meat, the notion that a trip to the city causes a sense of apprehension is almost laughable. If it weren’t absolutely, unflinchingly true.


I am scared. There. I said it. I’m afraid that venturing out into the city could interfere with Sophie’s nap time causing a catastrophic chain reaction of a bad night’s sleep, an early morning wake up, followed by more messed up naps. A downward spiral that will destroy all we’ve worked so hard for.

Not only that. I admit that the sleep thing isn’t the only danger sign I see when I contemplate a trip into Bern.

I’m a hermit by nature. Many a roommate has been baffled by the hours I spend in my room after work, reading or watching movies. I am quite at ease on my own at home. So there’s no real “drive” to get out all the time.

Similarly, making friends in a new town happened so differently in the past. Relationships developed naturally through day-to-day interactions at work or school, or I’d meet friends of friends and we’d hit it off. As a stay-at-home mom, there’s no office or class room to put me in contact with people my own age, with a shared common experience. You have to work harder to make new friends.

Luckily, I know a few people here, new parents, some local, some expats like me. We met through online forums, maternity wards and friends of friends. The few times I’ve gone out, I’ve really enjoyed myself.

But that was mostly B.S. Before Sleep-training. Right now, Sophie needs two good naps each day, naps that lead to a better night’s sleep. It took us a lot of time and tears (mine and hers) to get here and I have become neurotic about protecting that.

Yet for months I have been contemplating a trip into town that could have me facing off with nap time. There’s a play group of English-speaking families that meets every Wednesday morning. Trouble is, it takes about 45 minutes to get there (walk to train, train to city, tram to other part of town, walk to play group) and it starts around the time Sophie takes her morning nap.

Each week I think, maybe this week I’ll see if the little one will sleep on the way. I hem. I haw. Then mysteriously I realize I have wasted too much time thinking and have missed it. I tell Sophie we’ll go next week.

I’m pretty tired of hearing myself say “next week.” I logged on to one of the baby forums I read and asked if I was the only neurotic woman afraid to do anything during nap time. To my delight I was far from alone. A lot of mammas are nuts. Whether it’s getting to the gym or meeting friends for lunch, so many previously enjoyable outings become a burden with the uncertainty of juggling mom’s wants with what she thinks her baby needs.

A couple of mothers reminded me, however, that it’s OK to shake things up a bit once in a while. Moms have needs, too. Without those trips to the gym or lunch dates with friends, we start to go a little cross-eyed and stir crazy.

Sometimes all you need is permission from others to be imperfect. (Yeah, ‘cause I didn’t know I wasn’t perfect. But you know what I mean?) You want things to be right so you forget about real-life balance.

So this week, my focus is on letting go of the fear and getting out of the house. Not just on walks around the neighborhood with Sophie. But “out” out. Into the city.

A few years ago, when I was traveling solo through Europe, I had a mantra: “No regrets.” Most days I didn’t know where I was going or where I’d sleep when I got there. I would deal with whatever happened when it happened. Sometimes that meant changing direction at a moments notice. But it was OK because I had already accepted uncertainty.

Why not find the same state of mind with Sophie’s sleep. Now that we’ve got a good base, I understand her needs better, so I’m better able to deal with the odd interruption. I can do my best to make sure she gets the sleep she needs. But now and then, if it gets a little wonky, I’ll roll with it.

As if reading my mind, an online baby tracking calendar reminded me today that since I was now out of the fog of newborn days, I should get out and meet other parents.

So this week I’ll renew my efforts to get out of the house even if that means facing the big, bad messed up nap time. Tomorrow, I have plans for coffee with a new friend and on Wednesday I AM GOING to that play group.

It may not seem like much, going for coffee or going into the city. But a lot of things that seemed easy before are daunting as a new parent. Like many unknowns, the little fears can multiply and keep us from enjoying that cup of coffee or the company of a new friend. Hopefully with a little planning and a mantra of no regrets, we can push through the fears and get back into the world.

About Tara McLaughlin

I'm a stay-at-home mom to two girls in my boyfriend's hometown of Bern, Switzerland. Life as a new mom in a foreign country has been, in so many ways, rewarding and challenging. I will document that journey here, on Another 52 Weeks.
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6 Responses to Week 11: Lions and tigers and nap time, OR, my fear of play groups

  1. Go go go! I remember those neurotic days, heck I’m still in them. You eventually do find the balance though. If she misses one nap on one day of a week you will learn it won’t kill you. I always figured if we missed the morning then I would be extra sure to be home for the afternoon nap. Oddly enough when we hit the road naps never really phased me. I had stuff to see in whatever new city or country we were in. But when we were at home I was psycho about naps. It works out in the end though. Find the balance and weigh your needs vs. her naps. Sometimes a little out of the house time is worth a little extra fuss 🙂

  2. Anne Levy says:

    this is just like me! I am going through sleep training at the moment, and I am terrified to leave the house. Naps are 9-11 and 1-3, so I cannot ever leave the house, it is insane!!!!

  3. Jessica says:

    I’m so glad Keryn pointed me in the direction of this blog. This is a totally normal way to feel. Totally normal. Well, at least I think it is normal. I certainly felt this way. There were days when the pantry would be empty, but I would sooner starve than take the baby to the grocery store and risk messing up our schedule. But you will find that courage to go and it will probably be good for both of you. I will be tuning in to see how your first playgroup goes. Good luck!

  4. Pingback: Week 11 update: Taming lions | Another 52 Weeks

  5. Kate says:

    Just found your blog. This (along with other postings) made me laugh! I am an American (Plymouth, MI) living 30 min. outside Bern, came here 2yrs. ago with an 8 mo. old. I had the exact same anxiety with that playgroup! We would skip the nap, then he’d fall asleep on the way home, wouldnt nap and our whole day was ruined! I can relate!

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