Yes, the child is addicted! But we can cure her!
We had noticed a disturbing trend in Norah's sleeping patterns. She would get cranky anywhere between 9 and 10 in the morning, depending on when she got up (she usually wakes up prior to 7). I would put her down and she would fall asleep pretty much immediately. However, three days a week I needed to wake her up no later than 11:15, because I need to pick Mia up from school. I also didn't want her sleeping too long and skipping her afternoon nap, because she would get cranky in the late afternoon if she missed that nap. Since she was very little, that has been her pattern.
Well, two weeks ago she didn't take an afternoon nap. This happened occasionally, and I just figured she was having a problem that day. Then the next day - Friday - she didn't sleep in the afternoon again. This not only makes her grumpy, it also threatens to wake Mia up because of the loudness of Norah's protestations, and it makes Daddy grumpy. And that's the worst consequence of all! So then came the weekend, and we decided to let her sleep in the morning as long as she liked, hoping she would get a nice five-hour nap, wake up in the early- to mid-afternoon, and not need another nap. Yeah, fat chance. On both Saturday and Sunday she took no more than a two-and-a-half hour nap, woke up around noon, and then refused to sleep in the afternoon until close to five, when she became very grumpy. The only solution we could see: excise the morning nap from her routine!
And so it fell to me to break her of her habit. Our reasoning: if she stays awake until around 1 or 2, she'll be really tired and sleep well until 4 or 4:30, therefore remaining un-cranky until bedtime. Also, I'm a lot less grumpy at 10 in the morning when Mia is at school than I am at 5, and Krys certainly doesn't want to deal with a cranky child when she comes home cranky from work (and her work gives her good cause to be cranky, let me tell you!). So if Norah wants to scream her head off at 10 in the morning, I can deal with it much better than if she's screaming her head off at 6 at night when we're trying to eat dinner. Makes sense, doesn't it?
Well, we're a little over a week into the grand experiment, and it's working pretty well, even though there are still some problems to be ironed out. Norah is very upset every morning when it becomes clear I am not going to put her in her crib, but the screaming periods have gotten shorter, although they appear a long way from ending completely. I sit on the floor with her and try to play with her, but often she just screams and flops down by me as if to say, "Please let me sleep!" At several times over the past ten days, she has fallen asleep in the car when we go to pick up Mia or are driving home from school, and although it's not long, it does refresh her nicely but also chews into her napping time proper. She also is not sleeping as long in the afternoon as we'd like - back when she would take a morning and afternoon nap, it wouldn't be uncommon for her to sleep two hours in the morning and two in the afternoon. She's still sleeping at least two in the afternoon, but we were hoping she would go down around 1 or 1:30 and sleep until at least 4. Sometimes she does, but sometimes she's waking up at 3:30 or so. Therefore, she's still somewhat tired by 6:30 and becomes unpleasant. She's not as bad as when she misses her afternoon nap entirely, however, so that's something.
This week the morning screaming has been lessened, and I hope she's slowly starting to get used to not sleeping in the morning. I've been riding the screaming wave out and giving her a snack or a cup with juice in it, and that makes her happy. She has also not fallen asleep in the car this week as much as last, which is also a good sign. She really does need her sleep, and we're hoping that she takes slightly longer naps in the afternoon as she gets more used to it. We continuously mock our children for wanting to skip naps, as we would both love to take more of them. It's one of those things I tell them I will enjoy when they are teenagers - denying them sleep because it's time for school. They will have had their chance!
For now, the experiment continues. It's a moderate success! Yay - parenting works occasionally!