In my last post, Lions and tigers and nap time, I left you all with my grand intentions of getting out of the house, even if that meant messing up Sophie’s nap time.
Her naps did get messed up. But maybe instead of saying “messed up,” I should say that the schedule was different than usual and we handled it.
We are both alive (and relatively happy) after two days of outings that didn’t fit nicely between naps.
On Tuesday morning, I met a new friend for coffee. We planned for a time so Sophie could nap on the way into town. She often falls asleep in the stroller, so I bundled her up, reclined her seat and off we went. Her eyes drooped, but a nap was not to be. Certainly not once the coffee bean grinders started whirring.
I forgot how loud those places could be. In my journalist life, I’d sometimes try to escape the madness of the newsroom and head to the coffee shop, only to find I’d have to shove headphones in my ears to find peace, there, too.
Nevertheless, I sipped my Café Americano, Sophie tried to eat my empty sugar packet and I had an adult conversation with someone other than Dominique, who is forced to talk to me every day. It was refreshing.
To my surprise, I was only slightly nervous when Sophie gave a little grunt of disapproval. She was easily distracted, then, by a toy and her interest in the cups and plates on our table.
After a nice chat, we said goodbye to our new friends and I attempted a bit of shopping. Several of Sophie’s pants are now, well, shorts. But the baby doesn’t like to stop and browse when she’s sleepy. She grumbles: “Move the stroller or put me in the crib.”
But, as I rolled us back to the train station, she conked out. I did a U-turn back to the stores. Found some cute new clothes and a replacement frying pan for the one I’d recently burned up. (Uhg)
With the little one still asleep and afternoon temperatures climbing, I was tempted by the open-air market.
I picked up some olive and tomato focaccia bread and breaded apples, sat on a park bench in the sun and had myself a little picnic.
Sophie woke, happy.
We watched some men playing a giant game of Chess then caught the next train home in time for Sophie’s lunch, a little play-time on the floor and off for her afternoon nap. Not a fuss, not a peep.
She woke halfway through her nap, though, but was easily soothed back to sleep.
Her night was a little rough. She woke a little earlier than normal, but I am used to dealing with her unpredictable nights. She’s been a bit off since she cut her first tooth on Sunday. And it wasn’t so long ago she was up every hour or two.
As I considered our plans for the next day, I did start to worry about taking her off schedule two days in a row. I reminded myself this can happen sometimes anyway if our Saturday grocery shopping errands take longer than expected and we follow it up with dinner at her grandparents’ house on Sunday.
On Wednesday, since she woke early, she was ready for a nap early. Too early to head out to play group, but if I put her down, we might be too late for play group when she woke.
I spent a few minutes planning different scenarios:
A: go for an early walk and hope she sleeps in her stroller, then head to the city?
B: Put her down for a nap early and hope she wakes in time for the last hour of the play group?
I went with B. It worked perfectly. She got her nap, we got to explore a new environment teeming with a babies. I think it’s good that she is getting exposed to other children, even at this age.
I met some new women and touched base with a couple of friends I am getting to know.
We talked about sleep worries, life in our home countries, travel and bizarre breastfeeding experiences. Regular old, imperfect, very normal, mom stuff. And it felt, I don’t know, reassuring, perhaps.
Some people say babies are only little for a short time, so it’s no sacrifice to hole-up in your house for a year or more. (That’s if you only have one child. This time of sacrifice grows with the size of your family.)
But there is a sacrifice for those who begin to feel depressed or resentful, isolated or lonely.
The moms at Wednesday’s play group weren’t ignoring their children’s needs for their own, they were balancing them.
As moms packed up to leave, they said things like: “I’d better go, we usually eat right about now.” Or: “I’d better go, I want to get home before the naps get too messed up.”
They were allowing things to go a little off schedule to make room for something just as important. A break.
I hope to let that sink in a bit and be a little less fearful of getting out.
I don’t think it’s healthy to push the little ones all the time. They do well with routine and sleep schedules are important. But stretching the nap a bit so moms can get out, not just for must-do chores, may not be the catastrophic meltdown, downward spiral into baby nightmare that we imagine.
Sophie had a good nap after play group. She had a decent night’s sleep with a few kinks because silly mom put her to bed too late. But she had a good 7-hour stretch, went back to sleep easily, and woke up this morning bright eyed, smiling and ready for the day.