At a baby shower this weekend we were talking about scheduling babies. A pregnant-for-the-first-time guest asked, "What if she's supposed to take her nap, but I'm at the store?"
"Well," I said matter-of-factly. "You AREN'T at the store." Isn't it obvious?
When I was pregnant with Jack I was rather proud of my anything goes attitude. I'd been around the internet so I felt I knew a thing or two. I'd become intimately familiar with infertility blogs, pregnancy blogs, adoption and foster parenting and I-have-fourteen-kids-and-spend-all-my-free-time-on-the-internet blogs. If there was one thing the internet taught me, it was that all babies are different. What works for one mom won't necessarily work for another mom. (And, along with that, what one mom considers the most important thing to do or know is ten kinds of ridiculous to another mom. Have you met the internet? BUT I DIGRESS.)
I did have one preconceived notion, one idea that I hadn't bothered to examine or reconsider. It was set so deep within me that I didn't even notice it, not until my baby was a few months old and I was emerging from the baby fog and getting a good look around at Mommyland. There I was, the girl who loudly proclaimed no baby was going to run HER life, bending down to worship at the Altar of the Holy Nap Schedule.
I had every intention of being the kind of mom who pops her kiddo into a sling and hauls him around wherever and whenever I wanted. He'd learn to sleep anywhere and with all kinds of noise. I wasn't going to chain myself to any kind of schedule. Pshaw! Sure, we'd have a routine and everything, but if something came up, I wasn't going to turn it down just because I have a BABY. Only lame parents tell you they can't go to dinner at your house because that's right when the baby goes to sleep.
But three or four months into this parenting gig I became a Lame Parent. I didn't even fight it. The piece I was missing before I had Jack? That nap schedule doesn't just exist for the baby, it exists for YOU. Silly me for thinking parents who lived and breathed by bedtimes were letting their children run their lives. Obviously these parents were positively bursting with brilliance for understanding that if they do not abide by the nap schedule, they have no life to speak of!
At least, that's the way it goes in my house. We may get home a little late for naptime some days, but never TOO late. Naptime is sacred. Bedtime is holy. A tired baby makes for a crazy mother and a chaotic day. When my baby doesn't sleep when he's supposed to, I spend the rest of the day trying to figure out when he'll be tired, when he'll be hungry and how I'm going to juggle the rest of our day. I do not mess with the nap schedule, people. Without it I am toast. And yes, the pre-baby me may be falling down from shock, but a happy well-rested baby takes precedence over dinner with friends. No contest.Of course, then there are days like today when you are home at the appropriate time, you've done all the going-to-sleep things, but the kid would rather stand up in his crib and chew on the rail than take his nap like a good boy.