The car-to-cot transfer. The premature nap. The Sky Sports snooze. Everywhere you look, you’re running the gauntlet with the mother’s most precious commodity: sleep. This is a game for all the family. The wheel’s always spinning but who’s got the balls? Welcome to Nap Roulette.
Baby Nap Roulette: The Baby Always Wins
My pulse is racing, my palms are sweaty, my jaw is clenched in concentration. I’m throwing in all my chips. I’m about to attempt to transfer the sleeping baby from the car to the cot. It’s the greatest gamble of all. My sanity depends on it.
But as any mother knows, the success of baby naptime is in inverse proportion to how much you need him to sleep. If I’m planning to get my head down while he continues to slumber, his seatbelt clip will grab on to his belt hook as I ease him out and won’t let go till he is fully awake. Or a damn bird will burst into its sweet song and wreck the whole plan. Even if we’re already home, I have tried so many times to “sleep while the baby sleeps” on the advice of some great pranksters, and every time, just as I’m about to drop off, there comes that telltale wail. I have lost again.
Conversely, when you don’t want the baby to go to sleep, as you – with desperate optimism – wish to “save” his nap till later when you’re attending a school assembly / driving 300 miles to your in-laws / having your smear, his little eyes will cutely close while you’re clearing up breakfast. After all, the first rule of Baby Nap Roulette is that The Baby Always Wins. But I can forgive him that, the little angel. Adult Nap Roulette is a different matter, however.
Adult Nap Roulette AKA The Marriage-Wrecker
Nothing lives longer in the marital memory than an unapproved nap.
Most couples work out a way to survive the sleep-deprived years. At the weekend, my husband and I have a tag-team lie-in system. One of us gets to lie in, while the other keeps the children quiet by any means possible; then the other gets a lie-back later. How much later depends on how early the household was raised, what time we have to be out of the house – and how many brownie points have been accrued during the week. For example, if he came home at midnight following “one pint after work” on Friday, I send in the dogs (my heat-seeking missile baby and however many of his brothers can bestir themselves from the box) within the hour.
But this has its flipside. He will get up, sure. But then he will say, “You go back to bed. I’m going to need a nap later, though.”
I’m going to need a nap later?!?
And there it is. The gauntlet has been thrown down. The pin has been pulled on the nap timebomb. The ball is rattling in the wheel. We are playing Adult Nap Roulette.
We have a long weekend day ahead of us, filled with such delights as children’s birthday parties, trips to B&Q, and pulling moss out of the stupid lawn with our bare hands – during which, at some undefined point, my husband will fall asleep. I will be cooking lunch, wiping bums, packing the bag for our next outing when I’ll slowly become aware of a silence. A certain absence of sound from the lower register. The children continue to scramble all over the prone form on the sofa, like the Lilliputians over Gulliver. But on closer inspection, I’ll discover he’s done it. He’s snatched a nap.
There is no Poker Face here. There is one face smiling peacefully in slumber on the sofa. And one looking apoplectic as it tries not to swear in front of the children.
A Nap on the Sofa Is Worth Two In The Bed
The Sky Sports snooze exemplifies where our gambling styles differ. He’s a high roller. He’s got the guts to fall asleep in plain sight. He doesn’t waste time trying to get to bed. Regardless of how cross he knows I will be when he wakes up, he can’t help but sink into the short-term solace of the sofa stealth nap.
Believe me, if I could do it, I would. But I simply can’t fall asleep in a room with the children in it. If I hear some anti-protocol parenting occurring, my eyes will snap open. My husband can look after them how he likes – but not in my earshot.
But eventually, my number will come up. While he is an all-or-nothing short-termist, I am playing the long game. I’m banking all my un-taken naps until I have enough for a spa weekend. Which I shall spring upon him at 6am on the day of departure.
Related posts: I’m so obsessed with naps I was surprised to find I have only written one related post, but here it is: