This past month we've been having a VERY difficult time with naps. Anyone who has spent any length of time with our family, has had to listen to me babble about our past struggles with naptime. From birth to about 13 months naps were a torturous battle. I was stressing myself out, literally spending 2-3 hours trying to force my obstinate infant to take his afternoon naps. I'm telling you, that kid has a strong will! Our pediatrician in SF finally told me not to stress out about the naps, and let him nap whenever he felt inclined to: during walks, car rides, etc. She said babies get their sleep when they need it. So, this was how I spent the first 9 months of Miles' life. I adjusted to it, and for me, not fighting him was actually much better than creating a stressful afternoon. Miles and I enjoyed a lot of long walks along the Embaracadero or around Union Square, and he almost always napped during our walks. However that all changed when we moved to the Seattle suburbs. #1 it rains constantly here, so all day walks just weren't an enjoyable option. #2 we live in the suburbs, so there's literally no where interesting to walk to. I spent a lot of time driving into the city to spend the day with my mom where she would help put Miles to sleep or we would go on walks during the nice days in the late Spring and Summer.
One day, I'd finally had enough. Since I was in the 'burbs and didn't have much going on anyways, I decided to go back to my original method of "forcing" naps. Darn-it, if it took me 3 hours to get this baby to nap, so be it! So, after a month of Miles screaming, kicking, and nearly jumping off my lap for 2 hours every afternoon, he finally settled into taking his afternoon naps. Sometimes he would only sleep while sitting on my lap in the rocking chair, so I spent a lot of days with a stiff neck, but it was worth it. One month is nothing in the grand scheme of things and after 13 months, I finally had a baby who napped!!
Okay, so thats the background of our napping drama. Now enter February 2012 and Miles decides he doesn't want to nap. I spent about a week trying to cooerse him into naps. I tried rocking him, I tried letting him cry in his crib for a few minutes, I tried standing by his crib and soothing him, I tried books, I tried bottles, I tried singing, I tried all the tricks in my bag, but nothing worked. All I had to say to that was He**-to-the-no!! There was no way I was going back to that no-sleeping catastrophe.
So, unfortunately I ended up creating what could have been a worse situation. Miles would insist on me laying down with him, so I caved. I figured any nap was better than no nap. My 19 month old and I lay in my bed, happily wrapped around eachother while we took a blissful nap, housework be damned. I knew this was the worst possible solution because children learn by repitition, so I was basically teaching Miles that nap time includes mommy laying with him. But I just couldn't help myself. Not only did I dread the thought of wrestling him into sleeping (it was difficult at 10-20 lbs, it was going to be nearly impossible at 31 lbs), but I was really enjoying our cuddle time. Babies grow up so incredibly fast and I am beginning to feel like Miles is becoming a little boy too soon! Where has my baby gone?! So to have two hours a day with his little arm wrapped around my neck while he lay peacefully next to me was just too wonderful for me to pass up.
This past weekend, my husband even joined in on our little naptime and we had the most heavenly family cuddle session. After about an hour I woke up and watched my two boys laying next to me, and continued to watch them for the next hour with a big grin on my face. Maybe I wasn't doing the text book, perfect mother method of teaching sleep, and maybe I would regret this, but I decided I was just going to enjoy that moment in time. One day Miles will be grown up and he wont want his mommy to hug and kiss him constantly, but I'll have moments like this to look back on, and I love that. :)
UPDATE: Lest you suspect that I am a terribly lazy mother, I actually decided to go back to "forcing" his nap this week, and it worked. It only took an hour to get him down, and we're back on schedule! YAY! Maybe he was just going through a mood and needed some mommy cuddle time, and now that he had his fix, he's back to normal. Seriously, with babies, who knows??!