Naps Make A Comeback by Maureen VanWalleghan
My daughter H. is in kindergarten. A half-day program at a Waldorf-inspired charter school. We picked it because she is on the young side for a kindergartener. After three years in a great preschool it seemed the best option.
At her wonderful preschool, H. went everyday and got a nap everyday. The preschool was such that she had breakfast, lunch and a snack there also. Needless to say her school was doing a lot of the heavy lifting when it came to managing my daughter. Now with a half day kindergarten I am back in charge.
Last semester, my very social daughter wanted to go to kindercare, which covered the time from noon to 3:00pm when the whole school got out. I had planned for two days because of my teaching schedule and H. asked for one more. There was a rest time at kindercare, but no real nap.
Little did I realize that without a daily nap our daughter was becoming very unpleasant. We have a happy kid. It felt like she was born happy. She is a teaser—a jokester, she likes to say. She is also very animated and quite flexible. As kindergarten progressed she became more moody and weepy in the evenings; also in the mornings as well. Basically, everything became a crisis. My husband and I kept wondering if she was trying on behaviors that she saw other kids doing at school. It was really difficult to know what to think. After working all day we found ourselves frustrated with all the acting out. Frankly, nothing was helping. I was trying to get her into bed by 7pm, but even that was having little impact on all the tears.
When my husband went hunting for a week at the beginning of December, my mom came to stay with us and help out in the evenings since I had evening teaching commitments. My mom is old school. All kids get naps; so H. got a nap every day. At the end of my mom’s visit I felt like a got my happy girl back. That’s when I realized that H. was tired. Really tired. No crying, no tantrums, no rudeness, just a happy girl again.
I decided to commit to a nap everyday during the Winter Break, but it was difficult as my husband was off and I was off and we didn’t have a routine to follow. Since I have some control over my teaching schedule I decided to set things up for this semester so that I could be home everyday at noon to fix lunch and do the nap tuck in. Funny to think that’s how my mom did it. I guess she knows a thing or two.
We just finished our second week with nap time firmly set into our day. The change has been noticeable. Evenings are a pleasure again. In the mornings H. jumps out of bed like she used to, plays and gets ready for her day. Her teacher at school has noticed a change as well. What a difference a nap makes. I feel very lucky I could adjust my schedule to meet that need. Now if I could get a nap in for myself everyday...would I be nicer too?