My son Ari is now down to 1 nap, and it was a long and challenging transition. During this time, he sometimes (more and more increasingly as time went on) skipped his afternoon nap. I did everything I could to prevent this from happening. I cut his morning nap short and woke him up no later than 11, I kept him very active in the mornings, using lots of gross motor skills, and I pushed his afternoon nap a bit later. And for a while, this strategy worked. But after some time, he would just have a short morning nap and no afternoon nap. This would mean that he was awake from 11am until bedtime! That really stressed me out.
All of the sleep experts seem to agree that sleep begets sleep. In other words, the more they sleep the more they sleep. In other words (or in a glass half empty view) sleep is a vicious cycle. If they’re overtired during the day then they will have trouble falling asleep at bedtime and they won’t sleep well at night and they’ll wake up too early in the morning and they’re too tired during the day and…the cycle continues. This is counterintuitive, right? You’re probably thinking, “if they’re tired, they should sleep more.” But for some reason, that’s just how it is.
Despite the fact that Ari has continuously surprised me with how well he copes with being overtired, I became anxious when these times would come. I like to be in control. And so I struggle with the curveballs that come from raising a little one sometimes.
“Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it.” – Kahlil Gibran
Recently Ari and I went on a road trip to Ottawa to visit a very special childhood friend of mine from camp. She is a mother of 3 and happens to also be somewhat of a brain-science genius, educated at Harvard and everything. While we were staying with her, she got to experience first-hand how anxious Ari’s skipped naps could make me.
Nothing beats your child playing with the children of your friend
Watching the changing of the guards on Parliament Hill
Earlier this summer, I posted about the importance of positive self-talk. I’ve been working really hard at this skill. And in this instance, while Ari was playing and rolling around in his crib I could feel myself getting anxious. I was trying to give my mind the ammunition to win this mind-over-mood battle with lots of positive thoughts. “Ari has gone on less sleep than this and been fine.” “It’s just one day, if he’s miserable later he’ll have an early bedtime.” “I can’t force him to sleep. I’ve given him the best sleep-inducing environment I can and the rest is up to him.” And so on… Eventually I gave up and we went on with our day and everyone survived.
Later that night, I spoke with my friend about that experience. “I was so anxious,” I said. “I did everything I could think of to calm myself down, and explained rationally to myself that it would be fine, but my heartbeat still started racing and my chest still felt tight and my breath still sped up.”
She gave me some really interesting advice. Her advice to me was to stop berating myself for being anxious and learn to love all the parts of myself. She said that in another environment (such as my previous career path, for example), that perfectionism and desire to be in control at all times may be a skill set that might actually be useful. In this circumstance, it is not. But it is not a “bad” part of myself that I need to be ashamed of. Try to love myself. Try to love even the anxious parts of myself.
A good friend, and one of my favourite yoga teachers, recently shared a mantra that she meditated with at a retreat: “I am my own.” This resonates so much with me and was so fitting to learn right after going through this experience.
A couple of weeks ago was my husband Navin’s birthday. For his birthday, he wanted a party. He loves his people and wanted to celebrate by spending time with them. And so, I got to work planning. We ended up hosting about 30 adults and a surprising 15 kids (!), and I had no mama around to help because she was up north at the cottage! I did what I could by planning ahead and lowered my expectations significantly. I would not be making homemade popsicles like I did 2 years ago (in fact, I even forgot to serve the store-bought ones I had), but most importantly I made a conscious effort to stay calm all day. I have a track record of having a meltdown of some kind or another right before we host a party. But that wasn’t going to happen this time. I did a short yoga practice before the party with lots of strong poses, like warrior I & II, and chanted (in my own head) the mantra: “I am grounded. I am calm.” Every time I started to feel flustered during the day, I kept coming back to this mantra and would no longer feel overwhelmed. Leaning on these words, a weight was lifted from my chest and I amazingly stayed calm all day long!
So whether the words you need to hear are “I am my own” or “I am grounded, I am calm” or anything else that nurtures you, try choosing your words carefully and turning to them for comfort or inspiration when you need it most.
“There are plenty of difficult obstacles in your path. Don’t allow yourself to become one of them.” – Ralph Marston
PS – /”98ik.i9ooioojuh ,’pki,m,kkjni – Love, Ari