Almost five years ago, when my oldest son was born, my life changed in a very profound way: I became obsessed with naps. And now that I've brought my 6-month-old son into the fold, it's safe to say that my life revolves around my children's nap schedules. But getting a second baby to nap isn't easy, my friends, and napping with baby number two has proved to be a very, very different ball game than napping with kid number one. It just goes to show that no two kids are exactly the same, and just when you think you've mastered an aspect of parenting, your kids throw you a curve ball and you're stuck feeling like a rookie all over again.
That's not to say it's all bad news, my friends, or that napping with two kids is impossible. There have been moments — glimmers of hope — when I have been able to get my two kids to sleep at the same time, and those moments are glorious. I feel like I can conquer the world. Cure cancer. Or, at the very least, get some damn rest myself. Those moments just require a lot more planning, and a lot more diligence and hard work on my part, than getting my older son to nap ever did. In other words, I have to be at the top of my mom game if I'm going to enjoy a nap with baby number two.
Knowing the size of the mountain you're hoping to climb is, in my opinion, step one in trying to tackle any parenting obstacle, which is why it helps to know what you're in for when it comes to napping with baby number one versus baby number two. So with that in mind, here are just a few ways your sleep situation will differ the second time around:
Establishing A Nap Schedule Will Be More Difficult
Establishing a nap schedule for one child is, in retrospect, relatively easy. But when you have two kids? Well, things get a touch more complicated. You have another kid's sleep schedule to contend with, for one, and that doesn't always line up well with your baby and/or younger child. You also have to worry about your older child's school schedule, their established play times, and/or any extracurricular activities they may be enrolled in.
With kid number two, you're at the mercy of another child's schedule. Gulp.
Kid No. 2 Won't Nap As Easily
It can't just be my kid, right? Because as it stands, right now, my 6-month-old son doesn't nap worth a sh*t. It's like he's afraid he's going to miss out on time with the family and, more specifically, time with his older brother. I remember my first kid napping like a champ, but kid number two just doesn't want to sleep for any significant amount of time.
Kid No. 1 Will Always Wake The Baby Up
Oh man, hell hath no fury like a mom who just put her baby down for a nap only to have her toddler wake the baby up on purpose. WHY. WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO ME, DEVIL CHILD.
You'll Need Double The Nap Space
Experts suggest, when trying to get two kids to nap at the same time, you separate them and provide two different locations for your kids to sleep sans each other's company. That means nap time with kid number two requires double the sleep space.
You'll Rely Heavily On Noise
My second child, thank the heavens, can sleep through anything. I credit his older brother's near-constant need to make noise for this phenomenon, because my kid could sleep through the end of times if it was necessary. And since it's suggested that parents use white noise to help their kids nap anyways, relying heavily on noise to lull your second little one to dream land isn't the worst thing in the world.
You'll Incorporate Kid No. 1 Into The Routine
I've learned, painfully, that in order to get baby two to nap, I have to incorporate kid number one. That might mean having my 4-year-old son "help" in ways that low-key encourage him to be quiet so the baby can actually sleep. My advice? Get creative with kid number two's nap time. Whether it's having the older sibling "tuck" the baby in, read to the baby, sing a little song, or just be part of the process in any way, having your older kid involved will help make sure everyone is firmly and enthusiastically on the nap train.