As a kid, I hated taking naps. Heck, even as a pre-kid adult I hated taking them. They seemed like a waste of time that could better be used reading or eating or binge watching a Real World marathon.
Then I had kids.
Science tells us that kids need naps. It’s good for their development. What science doesn’t tell you—but I will—is that we need our kids to take naps for our own sanity.
Like every other kid on the planet, my kids also fight naps. What’s worse, though, is that while there are ten different types of naps a child can take, there’s only one that is actually a gift from above. Can you guess which one is the only good nap on the list?
1. The “I Need’ Nap. This is the nap where your kid needs something every seven seconds. “I need a drink of water,” “I need to go potty,” “I need a story,” “I need, I need, I need.” By the time the kid actually falls asleep, it’s time to wake them up and begin the countdown to bedtime.
2. The Cat Nap. Ahhh, the child is asleep and now it’s time to relax for a few minutes. Wait. What’s that? The kid’s awake?! It’s only been 15 minutes! Are you kidding me?! I just sat down!
3. The “Not Really a Nap” Nap. You put the kid in their bed, close the door, and everything is quiet for a good chunk of time. “They’re asleep,” you joyfully think, only to turn on the video baby monitor and realize they’re wide awake. They’re just chilling in their bed, playing with toys or reading books and NOT SLEEPING.
4. The Accidental Nap. You’re in the kitchen prepping dinner while your child watches Curious George. You glance over to check on them and, sure enough, they’re slumped in their chair with their pacifier daintily dangling from their lips. You can also find this nap in the booths of restaurants, at ball games, and anywhere else you want the kid to actually be awake.
5. The Car Nap. You know the story. Your ten minutes away from home, your child has been chattering away nonstop all morning, and suddenly they’re passed out in their car seat. You pull into the driveway knowing that if you get out, they’ll wake up and consider themselves to be completely refreshed and ready for the rest of the day but YOU ARE NOT READY FOR THEM TO BE AWAKE. If you ever see a mom sitting in her car in front of her home for no real reason, there’s a good chance a toddler’s asleep in the back seat.
6. The Early Nap. This occurs often when the child is transitioning from two naps to one or is going through a growth spurt or has just decided to punish you for leaving the crust on their PB&J sandwich. They begin rubbing their eyes and yawning at 9 a.m. You know if you don’t let them sleep, you’re in for a world of hurt. But if you do let them sleep, they’ll be awake by Noon and that is so, so, so far away from bedtime.
7. The Late Nap. This is the fraternal twin of The Early Nap. Sometimes you’re out late running errands or a play-date goes long and your kid doesn’t fall asleep until 3 in the afternoon. This sucks because inevitably the child will sleep well past dinner and choose to regale you with their screams and energy deep into the night.
8. The “Disturbance in the Force” Nap. Your baby’s been quiet for thirty minutes now and you think you have enough time to dust and vacuum and go forth into the Battle of Laundry Mountain. Then you hear crying because your kid has pooped. They are now awake and pissed off. Honestly, I can’t say I blame them; I’d be upset if I pooped in my sleep, too.
9. The “Never Gonna Happen” Nap. Those moments where you know deep in your bones that your children are not actually going to sleep, but you put them in their room anyway, clinging desperately to just a sliver of hope that they will fall asleep. It’s not going to happen but you wish and you pray and…. get them out of their room a few minutes later with a sigh and a yawn of your own.
10. The Real Nap. The perfect nap where you give your kids their bottle or cup, their pacifier, their stuffed animal, their book and whatever else they need, and they lay down to drift off to Dreamland. It’s peaceful. It’s perfect. It’s everything you’ve ever wanted in life.
If you guessed that number 10 is the only good nap on the list—congratulations! You win! Too bad you can’t celebrate, though, because…
Your kid’s awake.