I arrive home from a night out with friends at 9:30pm and gratefully sink into the sofa next to my husband.
“How did bedtime go?” I ask, inquiring about our three-and-a-half year old daughter.
“You can go up and ask her, she’s still awake,” he answers.
“Again?” I shake my head. It is way too late for our daughter to still be up.
When I trudge up the stairs and enter her room, she is completely awake, talking to her stuffed animals and, in her words, “having a party.”
“Aren’t you sleepy?” I ask hopefully. She shakes her head and looks at me with wide open eyes.
I knew it was coming: the end of the nap. For the last year, I have quietly muffled my anxiety surrounding the conclusion of this daily ritual in our family. My daughter happily climbs into bed every day at 2pm, but when she naps, even just a little bit, it means she won’t go to sleep until 9 or 10pm. Night after night, I watch her on the monitor as she plays with her stuffed animals and makes forts with her blanket.
For the last three and half years, naptime for my daughter has meant that I had time to write, to return phone calls, to clean out my closet, to take my own nap. It has been uninterrupted time at home, which is much different from free time when she is at school or with a babysitter. When I am away from her, I am always on the clock and checking my phone. But when I am home, and she is home asleep, I am calmer, more at ease.
These midday hours have been precious for the last few years. But without having to be home at a certain time for the nap, I know my days will open up. We will have more time to play with friends, go to the playground and be together in the afternoons. This will be good too.
A few weeks ago, we were at a friend’s house after school. My daughter was playing with her buddy while his mom and I chatted.
At 2pm, I told my daughter to finish playing so we could leave. I turned to my friend and explained,”I need to get her home for her nap.”
“Just let it go,” my friend gently suggested. “You are the one who needs that nap, not her.” I looked at my daughter, happily playing in the backyard, without any sign of being tired, and I silently agreed.
So that is what I am doing: reluctantly letting go of those precious hours at home and attempting to embrace the new flexibility that we will have in our days. As much as I will miss those quiet midday hours, I must admit that a 7pm bedtime doesn’t sound so bad either.
Goodbye naps, we will miss you.