(Ah, I hate when this happens.)
Just yesterday I posted about how I didn't agree with some of the ideas in this sleep article. The main things I disagreed with was her decision to let her 3 year old (who needed less sleep than usual) go to bed at 10:30pm at night and wake up at 7:30am, so that he could still take a 2 hour afternoon nap. "Not for me," said I, shaking my head. Children should be in bed no later than 8pm, I silently judged.
But her ideas stewed in my mind. And instead of thinking about Juliette, I started thinking about Benjamin. You see, he gave up daily naps just around 3 years old. Very similar to what the author of the article was saying about two of her children. And I started to see that perhaps Benjamin needs less sleep than I was asking of him.
Right now, Benjamin is usually in bed for 7:30pm and wakes up about 6:30am. 11 hours is what he needs in a 24 hour period. The times when he crashes, falling asleep in the middle of the day, he is often awake until 9:30pm, because he used up two hours already. So I cut his naps out. The result hasn't been pretty, but until now I hadn't associated it with naps. After about 2pm, he whines incessantly with me, bothers his brothers non-stop, and is rude and ill-tempered all around.
I realized that while Benjamin needs only 11 hour of sleep, he can't handle being awake for 13 hours straight. He needs that two hour recharge in the middle of the day. So I am readjusting his schedule. He will now go to sleep at 9:30pm, wake at 6:30am, and nap after lunch for two hours.
And here's the real gem of the article - enable your kids to nap, don't force them. Benjamin will not be forced to do anything right now. But if I pack his mornings with physical activity (preschool and swimming lessons, and the park when it gets nice) and combine that with less sleep at night, he will hopefully fall into bed and then wake up much more pleasant.
(And hey - I'll gladly eat any words that make our home a little happier.)