There is a joke about Santa Claus specific to parents that I always smile at. It goes like this: There are three stages in a parent’s life. When they believe in Santa, when they don’t believe in Santa and when they become Santa.
It’s as true as true can be. The same joke can apply to naps, however. You just tweak it slightly. It would go something like this: There are three stages in a parent’s life. When they used to take naps, when they get the kid to take a nap and when they fondly remember when the kid took a nap that last longer than fifteen seconds.
Don’t get me wrong, hanging out with the kids at the weekend is a highlight and something that I defend when the world tries its very best to make it not happen. But by whatever imaginary super powered being in the sky you believe in; naps are just brilliant.
See, in the beginning, before parenthood (or PB to use the parental archeological term) naps were a luxury. You might have had a hard week at work, or just been on the lash (that’s getting well and truly intoxicated beyond all human needs for any non-Irish readers) the night before. Energy levels are lower than one of those competing bunny rabbits in a Duracell advert on the telly. You stretch out on the sofa, maybe pull a hoody over like a blanket, or if you are in the pro league you climb the stairs and get back into bed. The eyes are closed and a nap takes place. Good for the body and the soul, setting you up for the rest of the day.
Hell nap time at work would be a wonderful thing…must mention that to my boss.
Anyway, once you have kids you enter a strange limbo place. See at the start you’re zonked from one end of the hour to the next. Sleep deprivation is a thing and if you mainline any more ground up coffee into your nostrils your next sneeze is likely to look like fossilised dino snot. Every bit of advice, from nurses to grandparents to friends to books written by strangers, says the same thing: when baby sleeps the parent should as well.
So that’s what you do. However, this begins a vicious cycle because when baby is awake you can’t really do much other than look after baby. If you are sleeping when baby is sleeping the chores, those pesky things that need to be done in order to maintain a house and stop it turning into a self contained garbage dump, build up. Sure you’ve loads of energy…or rather a bit more than you probably had before the nap…but that doesn’t really help put away the laundry or wash the dishes.
Then comes the fun part…the balancing act. As the kid gets older they need fewer naps. In fact, hilariously, their very own DNA will tell them when to ‘drop’ a nap. What this means to any non-parents reading this (welcome, by the way) is that the kid who used to require two naps a day suddenly only needs one. But they decide, at some genertic level, when this is going to happen.
With no forewarning to the parental unit at all.
Now you’re screwed. Some parents would have gotten into the routine of having a nap during the first nap time and maybe catching up on some of the housework during the second one. But now you’re down to just one nap and it is anyone’s guess as to how long that nap may last. Will you have enough time to put away the washing, but on a new load of dirty clothes, straighten the house out a little, wash and put away the dishes, take that poo you’ve desperately needed to take for five hours but couldn’t because, you know, ‘parenting’?
You’ve to roll the dice and do what you can – ironically all the while using up what little energy you may have gotten left over from the night before. Because that’s your life now, you believe with all your heart that sleep is something you store up in some magical, invisible, container. A well of power that you can pull from whenever you are tired at different points in the week.
It’s a lie…but a lie we all share. So don’t go spoiling it.
Then, right as your ass hits the sofa with a cup of well earned caffinated beverage, you hear it. The siren song of the parent, coming from the baby monitor. The first little grunt that your darling is awake.
You climb the stairs, go into the room, only to be greeted by the smile of your little cherub as they reach out their arms and say ‘Up’. Lifting them from the cot, their little legs wrapping around you, you return to your cooling drinking and take a sip. Five minutes later you sit and wonder how in the Hell a toddler has just undone all your cleaning and returned the house to a chaotic state. Toys are all over the floor, clothes strewn about and their is a faint hint of poop in the air even though nobody has pooped. The walls of your sanity come crashing down, right as the kid climbs up on the sofa beside you, snuggles in, and gives you a big old hug.
And you think to yourself “Screw the house, this is cuddle on the sofa is what it’s all about.”