Last summer, our newly-turned-two-year-old decided that he was going to stop taking his daily nap. Up until that point, I could lie down with him and we would both pass out for an hour or two, then awaken feeling refreshed. (This worked out fairly nicely for me, as I was pregnant and dealing with the "pregnancy tireds".)
However, right before his 2nd birthday while we were on vacation, our son decided that he was absolutely not going to make napping one of his daily activities. It wasn't that he had outgrown napping, because he hadn't. He still needed a nap and was a miserable little guy if he did not get one. He just thought he was ready to give up being well-rested.
He did not realize that we are seasoned parents who have the patience of saints, coupled with a million parenting tricks up our sleeves.
We panicked. My husband did the "get in there and nap. NOW." routine, while I sobbed and pleaded with a toddler.
Yeah, I know what you're going to say, "That doesn't work.". You are correct.
So, there we were. Two intelligent, creative adults brought to our knees by a very short tyrant with gorgeous, big blue eyes and juicy, chubby cheeks. Always a man of action, my husband told me to take a nap by myself, while he buckled our son into his stroller. I think his plan was to distract our over-tired toddler with the sights of the country roads so that his pregnant mama could still get a break.
Approximately five minutes into their nature walk, the little guy fell into a deep sleep and my husband brought him back home. It was obvious that this new "independent phase" required our son to by physically immobilized along with being constantly moved, not unlike swaddling and walking him when he was a newborn.
So, the walking continued, interspersed with some napping in his car seat during errands. Two weeks before his baby sister was born, I was still pushing him in his stroller around our neighborhood after lunch every day, so that he would fall asleep and I could bring him back home so I could join him in Dreamland.
Now, I realize that his 5-month-old sister has never liked to lie down for a nap with mommy; she has to be walked and nursed and slowly "tricked" into it. Every day after lunch, I put both kids in their double stroller (yes, even if it's lightly raining) and we trek all over our neighborhood until my little ones cave into the Sandman's persuasions. Then, we all come home for a "group nap".
The other day, I realized what a huge relief it was to get the kids buckled in and start walking. They both start off the walk jabbering and/or fussing, but very quickly are mesmerized by the Spring breezes and the rhythmic movement of the stroller's wheels on the pavement. It is the Mommy Equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and saying, "I can't hear you! I can't hear you!".
I also realized that I enjoy the walk and the new perspective it gives me. All of a sudden, my neighborhood looks friendlier and more beautiful. I can pray in peace. I can leave the chores, the computer, and the phone calls behind. I get some much-needed exercise. I feel like a better mother, a new woman.
Our daily walk is an escape for all three of us, in so many ways. I hope that my little ones feel the same way and continue to take daily walks as they grow into adulthood. I hope that they ask me to join them, sometimes, too!