Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Naptime Routine

We all know how crucial routine is to children. Let's face it: Nearly every "Supernanny" episode focuses on establishing a routine, because usually insanity equals no routine, right?

Well, I crave routine. I crave it very much. When it was just Big Girl in our family, routine was normal and expected and almost too routine. I like to have a plan.

And then I had twins. And the need for routine grew three times that day, just like the Grinch's heart at the end of the Dr. Seuss story. Without routine, caring for twins can be bedlam. It's all about the routine, especially in the beginning. Feeding and changing and bathing is all routine, and the experts always say to keep twins on the same routine.

The problem is this: My twins don't seem to crave routine like I do. At least they don't crave a naptime routine. Which this MoM kind of needs.

Don't get me wrong. The twins do sleep. But often only at night. (Which is a major blessing, I know -- I really do know that is a huge blessing.) They don't seem to have the need to sleep in the afternoon most days. But I try. And I try. I put them up for a nap, whether I think it will happen or not. Unfortunately, most days it's "not." And naptime becomes playtime.

This is what I found the other day when I walked in the room:

Naptime = playtime = let's try to take off our clothes!
Usually they start out OK. Somewhat quiet, flipping through a board book. But then it the noise level escalates on the baby monitor. And I hear jumping and bouncing in the crib, throwing toys and blankets back and forth. Board books ripped to shreds. Screaming and laughing and giggling and bouncy bed springs and absolute insanity. Sometimes I go up and utter stern words and they will settle down. Other days, not so much.

And lately, Buddy Twin has been stripping his bed down to the mattress. (You might imagine, mothers of little ones, how repeatedly putting sheets and a mattress cover on a crib mattress can make me cranky. It's not an easy task.) One day I foiled his plan but putting four fitted sheets over the mattress cover. He still managed to remove a few sheets before I caught him.

I can't even imagine what they would do if I had already moved them to regular beds and they had freedom in the room.

When I've spoken with other twin moms, their advice is often to separate them. But unfortunately that doesn't work in our current house plan. I've considered getting them up earlier in the morning, but right now I like to get Big Girl on the school bus before they are wandering around wreaking havoc. They are not totally early risers (8-8:30 a.m.), which I know contributes to the napping issues, but I put them down later in the afternoon (2 p.m.) to make up for the later morning wake-up. They usually go to bed at night by 8 p.m.

Some suggest that the days of napping are definitely over. Not me. I don't expect them to nap 3 hours each afternoon, but a little respite would do them well most days, I think. When they nap, their mood is obviously better, so I still persist with the nap thing. Or at least some quiet time.

Even when Big Girl was approaching giving up her nap -- which was late in life, around 4 years old! -- I still insisted on quiet time in the afternoon. Quiet time was the time I worked at my part-time job when she was young. Now, with the twins, afternoons are when I not only work at my part-time job, but try to do the tasks I cannot tackle when they are awake. Ideally, it's also time where I can start dinner tasks without toddlers underfoot, pick up and put away clutter, possibly tend to and weed a neglected garden outside and have a cup of coffee, possibly. Of course, that's a long list, but I'd like a toddler-free hour each afternoon to at least get my work assignments partly done. The other things would just be a bonus.

We are just days away from the end of the school year, which means Big Girl will be home daily and in the mix. I am trying to formulate a plan to make this summer a successful one, where she can fit in the routine and we can still cram in a quiet time/naptime session for the little ones. Stand by to see if it works!!

Do you have any advice for keeping toddlers on a nap schedule?
Leave your suggestions in the comments!

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