The morning was still. The tea was hot.The feet were up. The TV was on. And then, the dogs were barking…
“Hello?” a voice called from out front, thus unleashing round two of bark-nado on my living room.
“Shhhh! Shhhhh!” I frantically shushed the hairy beasts, picking up the smaller one and toting him to the front door to face the offender.
A mailman. With a package to deliver. Of freaking course.
“Hi,” I whispered, slowly opening our noisy screen door without so much as a creak.
He handed over the little device for me to sign, eyeing off the squirming spoodle still trapped under my arm, “There’s a baby napping inside, is there?”
“Yes,” I hissed through gritted teeth, “Yes, there’s a baby napping inside.” I neglected to add “And he better still be napping when I close this door or so help me I am chasing your van down the street and YOU WILL PAY FOR WHAT YOU HAVE DONE SIR.”
It wasn’t always like this.
My husband and I were the first in our little group of friends to procreate. Upon finding out that we were expecting, a furrow-browed friend asked, “You’re not going to become those parents who are so obsessed with sleep schedules that they stop going out and doing stuff, right?”
And we laughed. Of course not, we assured him. Only mega-uptight parents would be like that. We were going to be super-chill parents. The baby was going to fit around us and our lives.
“Babies sleep anywhere,” I added knowingly.
Now here I was a year later, shooting invisible daggers at a retreating mailman whom, technically, I had actually summoned myself when I clicked “purchase” on my ASOS shopping cart.
One of the first lessons I learnt as a new mum (and what that friend will very soon understand himself, as he is about to become a Dad) is that nap time is everything. EVERYTHING. And you will move mountains in order to protect it. You will schedule social activities around it, leaving a 1-hour buffer either side to be safe. You will consider skipping coffee catch-ups, birthday parties, heck, weddings, if they threaten to disrupt your carefully constructed routine. Want to catch up with a fellow mum-friend whose child is on a different nap schedule to yours? Just forget it. You guys are destined for a texting-only relationship for the next 2-3 years.
I have the added complication of having a kid who a) nods off within a minute of being buckled into his car seat, and then b) thinks that a 10-minute car nap equates to a full 2-hour morning nap and won’t go back to sleep no matter how tired he is, and so I spent the first year of my life as a new mum imprisoned (by choice!) in my house every morning, not even daring to go to the shops in case he fell asleep on the way home and I lost that all-important nap-ortunity. This is precious currency, people!
Yes, I adore the guts out of my kid, and yes, he constantly brings me joy. Also, yes, when he goes down for the night I often just spend my free time sprawled on my bed watching videos of him on my phone.
But his nap time is integral to my sanity. Nap time is when I can unfurl a little; make myself a snack that his chubby hands won’t demand a piece of, pour a cup of tea that isn’t in danger of being pulled down from its perch on a shelf that he couldn’t reach last week but can today, check my emails, clean the kitchen, write a little, heck, binge-watch Netflix. When nap-time is off-kilter, I’m off-kilter.
So please, people. Stay the hell away from my kid’s naptime. For my sake… and for yours.