Everyone is crabby here – the weather is overcast and threating to rain in the same way parents who never follow through lord it over their children’s heads. It’s hot but not sunny and humid without the vacation tranquility of water beating down on broad leaved plants just outside the window. Sigh.
The kids (who I make out to be terrors – when they are actually gorgeous and bright and kind) were fighting and whining and miserable with each other though the adamantly refused to separate. The time had come to lay down the law. I could hold it in no longer. There would be naps.
Now, you might read this and say, Oh, honey, they are faaaar too old for naps. You might tell me that your sweet pumpkin never took naps and stayed awake for twelve hours each day, happily pondering how he could make the world a more cheerful place (for the dregs of society like me). To that I say, congratulations, you won the offspring lottery. My people, they are a people of sleep requirements. Mine personally hovers around sixteen hours a day but no one seems to support it.
You might also say that you can’t get your child to nap. Now, I am prepared for you to hate me and roll your eyes and talk trash about my haircut after I say what I am about to say, but I am going to say it anyway. YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG. If you are still reading this, I want to pat you on the back (do people still do this or is it all fist bumps at this point?)for your self-actualization.
Without further ado let me show you how to do it right. There are some absolute requirements if you are trying to get more than one person to nap at a time. First, you need to separate the exhausted. Yes, even if they share a room. In a yurt. One goes outside the flap. I’m sorry but it’s science – you have to separate the herd or they will overpower you. Second, you must execute the pre-op. That means everyone has to try to pee first and you need cups of ice water (WITH LIDS FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE!) so as not to disrupt the flow by a potty or drink request. Once the sleepers are in separate locations, explain to the older (or least dramatic) child that you will be in to settle them after the younger child. If you have twins, start your least favorite (kidding!) – one of them has to be older by seconds, right? Repeat as above. Now the work starts.
1) Linens. You need to have a comfortable place for this to occur. Yes, I know kids fall asleep cheek to tile with their butts in the air sometimes. That is not going to help you here. A bed is best, but any semi-soft surface will work (strike that, maybe not cream cheese…). Make sure the sheets aren’t crumbly, or wrinkly, or too hot / too cold, etc. The easiest way to do this is by ripping off whatever science experiment is going on underneath their zippy sack and putting clean sheets on the bed. Also, put the kids in jammies or a loose tee shirt of yours (This is the exact reason you kept all of those Stussy and No Fear shirts from middle school).
2) Lavender. You might hate this and like something else. Use baby lotion if you feel so inclined. If you are with me on the positive benefits of lavender – make friends with someone who works for Young Living – because whatever magic happens in that tiny bottle is necessary and now is no time to cheap out and buy a similar product from Walmart – and I am thrifty. Apply this to the soles of the feet and wrists of your tired pal.
3) Listening. You will be doing an obscene amount of it at this point. Getting comfortable is its own kind of truth serum and your kiddo will now want to tell you what was bothering them at the book fair seven months ago. This is a good sign, like the loopy things people say when anesthesia is starting to take hold. NOTE* You are probably beyond tired yourself and you will want to hurry this process along – especially if you have multiple children. DO NOT LET ON THAT YOU ARE THINKING THAT WAY. Now is the time to slooooooow it down. You are projecting the idea that you have all the time in the world, even if you have approximately 786 things to do as soon as they start to sleep. If not, your kids will sense that and will add at least 48 minutes to this ordeal if they think you are rushing them.
4) Love. You do really love these people. Scratch their backs or hold their hands or tuck their hair behind their ears while you tell them that. I don’t care if they drew on the walls with your good nail polish or broke a dish or spilled cranberry juice on the carpet and tried to clean it up with Vaseline earlier. That is in the past. You love them and you will love them even more when they are well rested.
5) Leave. I know I just told you not to rush, but if they are in a clean, soft, quiet place and they feel loved, relaxed and no urge to drink or pee, you have done your job. They might tell you they are not tired. Agree and tell them you will check on them in thirty minutes. Then do it. Bring your phone and you can even snap a time stamped picture of them snoozing.
The key to this all is staying as calm as you possibly can. Try an accent or adopt a persona of a sleep butler if you need – but (and this hurts) don’t necessarily be yourself. Because “yourself” at that point is probably in dire need of the same service or at least a cup of coffee or tea and a shower and that is putting it nicely. You are likely not at the top of your game, but you don’t want to let on to that. You might point out that its mid-afternoon and bedtime is only a few hours away. Don’t push through till bedtime. As your friend, let me suggest that you cave and make them take naps. And those 800 other things can wait because honestly, you probably need a nap too.