The Nap Factor

For four and a half years, I built and maintained my freelance career without any childcare (other than Darling Husband, when he’s off, and those three random days I roped in a 12-year-old mother’s helper).

It was a HUGE decision for me when I hired regular, once-a-week childcare. I did it because I was exhausted and desperate and worried about how I could keep going, professionally, without it.

The kids now go to a nearby babysitter’s house one day every week (not always the same day) so I can have between 8:45 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. to work uninterrupted. And it’s wonderful.

Of course, I work more than that one day a week. I also work the other four weekdays, every afternoon while the kids are napping or having “quiet” (not-always-so-quiet) time. I sometimes work one morning a week, too, if Darling Husband is off.

I’m not good at math, but that seems to make one full day, one partial morning (sometimes), and four partial afternoons. Roughly 25 hours a week, I would guess.

It’s not ideal — except for the babysitting day — because the kids are often loud and destructive during their nap/quiet time. Darling Husband is usually working or sleeping off the night shift at that point, so I have to listen to the baby monitor as I work.

I work … I try to work … All the while, getting twitchy-eyed at the noise and chaos going on two floors above me, until I unplug my headset, race up the stairs like a crazy person, and start hissing to BE QUIET ALREADY MOMMY HAS TO GET HER WORK DONE SO WE CAN PLAY OH MY GOD SHHHHHHH!

It’s not great, yeah, but it’s what I know. Having most mornings to do things with the kids — take D and his buddy to preschool and back, run errands with C, have playdates with her little friends, etc. — and then working in the afternoon, without fail.

The problem is, nothing stays the same.

C, who turned three at the end of April, is not napping much anymore. She is wide-awake and full of pep, even when she’s actually tired. The girl has Little Sister Complex, so she never wants to miss anything and therefore chooses not to sleep. Ever.

D is still napping sometimes, at almost-five. I know, I know. Lucky, right? Well, no. He gets up really early in the morning, and then sometimes he’s really cranky by 1:30 and will crash in his bed, all tucked in. He’ll have a good nap, and then wake up and play with his trains in his bedroom, or slip downstairs to the basement to play (sometimes quietly) with his Playmobil while I work. On the days he doesn’t nap at all, he’s still pretty quiet.

The trouble is that D starts primary in the fall (kindergarten, for my dear American readers) and, uh, he won’t be able to nap there. He’ll still be expected to be, like, learning at 1:30 p.m. I’m not sure when he gets off school yet, but I think he’ll be home by 2:30? Something like that? Not likely to nap at that point, but who knows? I know Best Friend tooks naps after school for years when we were kids.

So I have a three-year-old (THREE! *sob*) who won’t nap, and a four-year-old (no, sorry, he’s NOT FIVE YET) who is willing to nap sometimes but shouldn’t.

I’m completely torn about what to do this summer, when I shouldn’t really count on *either* of them napping. How am I supposed to work in the afternoons, like I always have, if nobody is napping or being forced to at least TRY to nap?

Do I completely re-think my work schedule? Or do I invest in a lot of Children’s Tylenol? (JK, JK, JK)

4 Comments on “The Nap Factor

  1. My husband and his brother always had “Quiet Time” even when they were done napping. It coincided with the after school time (so when D would get home from Kindergarten) and they had one hour where they had to be quiet in their rooms.

    Although when he's off to school, it may be easier to make the morning work time when you only have one child to wrangle? Or maybe have quiet time for C after lunch before her brother gets home? and then you'll have an hour or 2 of work? (Is she more likely to nap when big brother's not there?)

    Just throwing out ideas, as I have an 8 month old who's idea of a good nap day is 2- 30 minute naps. She definitely won't be napping either at 3 years of age.

  2. Hi Heather, in summer I tend think of it less as “childcare” and more “childplay” we invest in and pay someone we trust to handle a few days a week so they can also get out to see some of their friends. In nicer weather I don't want our children (almost 5) to be hanging outside unsupervised for a large block of time while mommy works (especially if a swimming pool tempts them). Look for a situation where someone is taking a few other children. They will have a blast while you take care of business. Or the garden. Or…

  3. Thanks, Sarah! I definitely like the idea of keeping “quiet time” even when D is in Primary/Kindergarten next year. I think he'll need a little down-time after such a long day.

  4. That's a great point, Heather. The kids will be spending tons of time outdoors at their babysitter's, which makes me really happy. I know they'll be much happier there, in the fresh air, than sitting inside while I have to work.

So what do you think?

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