Naps in Small Spaces
I laughed a bit as I wrote the heading for this post as I'm pretty sure I haven't had a nap in our home since Theo was born over 4 years ago. I was never really into napping before kids but the sleepless nights of early baby days made me dream of naps. An adult getting a chance to nap in a small space is nearly impossible, unless the other parent takes all the kids out of the house. But this post is not about the lack of adult napping in our home, it is about how we manage baby and toddler naps in a small space. When I posted on Instagram recently offering to answer any unanswered questions, the most common question was about napping schedules. I realized I didn't have a post to direct people to so here goes nothing...
Sleep is a sensitive subject, especially when you aren't getting enough. I believe kids have different sleeping rhythms and tendencies but that you can train/teach them to sleep better.
In the early days of having a baby and a 3 year old in our small space, Mae had to nap on the go as I was often taking Theo to activities or preschool. She napped in the ergo baby carrier, wrap or sling or in our stroller. We learned after a few months that she had reflux so she often preferred to be carried or I had to angle the stroller upwards. My back was wrecked after about 6 months of this (luckily I went to a great RMT and started working out at Dailey Method which fixed everything). When she transitioned to 2 naps I tried to have the afternoon nap at home. Theo was also usually home at this time and I would always put on music and ask him to play quietly. This sometimes worked and sometimes didn't. I tried to play quietly with him with things like Lego and puzzles. I should note that Theo stopped napping at 3 so we never had to coordinate naps.
The challenge lay in keeping a very active 3 year old busy while making sure baby got the rest she needed. There were days when I felt massive guilt over both kids not getting exactly what they needed. Theo needing more space to be loud and run. Mae needing more quiet and peace. But I think that is just part of motherhood in a small or large space, never feeling like you are doing enough but learning to let those negative feelings go and accept that you are doing your best.
It took about a month to transition Mae to one-2 hour nap in the crib when she was about a year old. Some days were better than others but now she naps for 2 hours (previously in the mini crib and now in the bottom bunk). On Tuesdays and the weekends I let Theo watch a couple shows so he is quiet as a reward for good behaviour. On days when I can't reward him with shows I give him quiet toys to play with. Now that he is four, he understands he needs to be quiet when Mae naps. At 3 this was much more of a struggle and he would often wake her up on purpose to get negative attention. But hey, here we are a year and a half later and we all survived!
The lessons I have learned with 2 very different sleepers in a small space are:
Training your kid to nap on the go is great! Letting your kid nap in the car or stroller or other people's houses makes travelling and life in general easier.
Always have background noise or music on in the house as they are falling asleep.
All bad habits can be broken with one tough week (and I need to remind myself this as we try and take away Mae's bottle next week :( )
I hope that helps shed some light on coordinating napping in a small space. I'm sure it's quite similar to napping in a large space. It just involves a bit more tip toeing and shushing.