Being at home full-time with Lenny, my day is largely structured around his schedule. However, despite trying to keep to a predictable routine for meals, naps and bedtime, an infant can be, well, unpredictable. We’ve been going through a clingy phase lately and, combined with what I believe is a growth spurt, recently our days have been less ruled by routine and more by the needs of my growing baby. Taking the predictability out of our day is sometimes freeing, and sometimes challenging. It can be exhausting being on-demand to a clingy, needy baby.
This feeling of being always on-demand has been highlighted most at nap time. Lenny nurses to sleep for each so my time stops at least twice a day so Lenny can sleep. Lenny will sleep on his own at night but, for naps, I hold him. We got into this habit early on–after returning to work so quickly from maternity leave, I cherished every snuggly nap on the weekends and didn’t mind cuddling Lenny as he slept, even if it meant I had less free time myself. Now that I’m home with him every day, nap times take up large portions of both of our days, yet I still continue to hold Lenny while he sleeps.
About a week ago, I started to question this portion of our routine. My mother-in-law had stopped by for a quick visit and, while she was here, put Lenny down for a nap. For the first time ever, Lenny napped in his crib while I was also in the house. I wasn’t holding him, no one else was holding him, we weren’t in the car sneaking in a nap, and we weren’t at someone else’s house. I was able to relax for a full hour and a half on my own, in my own house. Was I doing myself a disservice by holding Lenny while he napped and not allowing myself “me time”? Am I perpetuating this clingy phase by holding him? Are we turning our habit into a bad habit?
I gave this a lot of thought over a few days. The next day, I tried to put Lenny down in his crib again for a nap. Of course, he protested. And, as I was lowering him into his crib, I realized that I wasn’t ready either. I would have missed the snuggles if he slept upstairs. I know that it would take time for both of us to adjust to a change In our routine, and I’m not sure either of us are ready for it.
But what is the harm in holding him? I feel like I’ve been given an opportunity, while not working, to do those things I was not able to do when I was working, like allow ourselves a snuggly nap each day. As Lenny’s first birthday quickly approaches, I am reminded each day how quickly he is growing up. He’s at a great age right now where he wants me close, and I happen to be home to allow for that. Taking some time out of my day to sit and hold a sleeping baby is a reminder to this usually on-the-go, easily bored mom to relax more. Not putting Lenny down for a nap is temporary and is good for both of us, so I’ve stopped worrying about what I “should” be doing and focusing more on enjoying my time with Lenny, even if I am always on demand.