I Unapologetically Adhere To My Kids' Sleep Schedule

by Mary Katherine
Originally Published: 
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I’m a pretty chill mom.

My kids eat Cheerios off the floor, and our sleeping arrangements are flexible. Our family has been known to log a decent amount of time at my buddy’s Clubhouse. His name is Mickey. Maybe you’ve heard of him.

It’s not that I’m lazy. What our lifestyle basically boils down to is survival mode. With two kids, two dogs, and a husband who disappears into the workforce daily, there are choices that must be made. So you better believe that if I’m given the opportunity to relax and preserve my remaining crumbs of sanity, I will take it.

Which is one of the 8 billion reasons I unapologetically adhere to my kids’ sleep schedule.

From the moment my human alarm clocks wake me up, our world becomes a tornado of Cheerio dust, VTech soundtracks, butt-wiping, and “Don’t poke your sister with a fork. How did you even get ahold of that?

I don’t feel bad admitting that I’m awake for approximately 45 minutes before I start thinking about nap time.

Longing for it, really.

So when that text message comes in asking if I’m available for pho at 12:30, my answer is (and always will be): “Nope, sorry.”

Because my children need to sleep, folks. My children. I recognize that some of y’all have those magical napless unicorns who push straight through the afternoon sleepies and maybe you are better off for it. I don’t know. What I do know is that the few times I’ve tried to take my kids out into the wild minus sleep, I have regretted that choice with every fiber of my being.

When my kids skip nap time, tantrums are thrown — so are sippy cups. Top-volume, ear-bleed-inducing cries come from the 1-year-old. And I’m sorry to say that, right now, at this season of life, an hour of herding cats, cleaning spills with baby wipes, and generally regretting my life choices doesn’t sound any better when it’s served up with a bowl of delicious pho.

I’ll pass. My kids are gonna take a nap today.

I admit that my reasons aren’t entirely selfless. Not only do my kids need their naps in order to better control their emotions (read: not bite, scream, kick, or destroy one another) but I need their naps. It is the only break I have in the day to sit on a couch unbothered, untouched, and un-Mommy-I-Need-You-ed.

This doesn’t come without complications. Take, for example, beach vacations. There is nothing more frustrating than loading up a ton of snacks, a tent, two pre-sunscreened children, and pack-muling it down to the beach for approximately one hour of sandy enjoyment, only to check the clock and announce: “NAP TIME!”

I am accustomed to the groans that come from children and adult family members alike. I know it’s frustrating. I know you think we should “skip it just this once.”

But in my family, we stick to our sleep schedules. Hard stop. Nap time is the most life-giving hour of our day — for both parents and kids. No way am I gonna throw away those moments of necessary rejuvenation in exchange for a few extra minutes on the beach. I know what happens when these kids get too tired. And what I don’t wish to add to that disaster is a bucket full of sand and a large body of water.

We stick to the freaking schedule. And yes, that goes for bedtime too.

I’ve fought that overly tired battle on one too many occasions, and I know better now. My kids don’t “stay the extra hour” to finish a movie. We don’t hang around for dessert at the birthday party if that means getting home past bedtime. My father always said, “You can’t hoot with the owls if you wanna soar with the eagles.” I am pretty sure that was Southern Dad-speak for: “If you truly wish to regret your life choices, stay up late and then wake up at the butt crack of down with young children.”

So if my husband and I are going to have a late night, it’s going to be sans kiddos. That’s what babysitters are for. By 8 o’clock — okay, fine — 9 o’clock, those little munchkins are going to be tucked into their beds, dreaming about candy and puppies and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

Call me a stickler.

Call me a killjoy.

Call me uptight.

I do not care.

I’ll be over here on the couch during nap time, killing all the joy in the world with a hot cup of coffee and beautiful, beautiful silence.

Because in this family we have a sleep schedule, and we stick to it.

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