Going against ages of parental wisdom, I am prepared to declare that naps for children are evil. Really the problem is not naps, it is anything to do with sleeping (including not sleeping). The holiday seasons seems to bring out the worst aspects of sleeping for kids. If you don’t make some effort to control their sleeping schedule you will have no control over your own schedule. If you do what you can to ensure regularity in their sleeping patterns then you are severely punished when there is a deviation in that pattern.
When parents think of naps they think of something that lasts for some noticeable period of time (somewhere between 30 minutes and 3 hours depending on the child, their age, the weather, and any other relevant factors) but children seem biologically to define naps as anytime they close their eyes for longer than a blink. If I wake my children from a nap they cry, but they won’t go back to sleep. If they fall asleep in the car for even two minutes before I can get them home and in their beds they are fully recharged and won’t go back to sleep for at least 2 hours – no matter how far past their bedtime it is.
The really insidious thing about naps for children is that the children are in a state of constant flux. The schedule that worked so well for my infant or toddler all of last week may be totally useless today so I am constantly in a state of retraining. Then there is that unenviable period where the child is not quite able to handle a full day without a nap, but they are not tired until 2 hours before it’s time for bed.
Note – this is not really a frustrated rant though I’m sure it sounds like one. It is actually a collection of thoughts I’ve had as we have started the holiday schedule jockeying and I have reflected on the mirage of nap-time benefits from the past. I found the thoughts amusing and thought I’d share.