It feels like only yesterday that I was welcoming her into my arms and yet I will suddenly have a preschooler on my hands in just a few short weeks. How did this happen? Every time that we thought we finally got things figured out, everything changed and it’s happening all over again with my daughter starting preschool next month.
Her “typical” daily schedule has gone through several changes and phases these last three years, but at least for the last several months, we’ve reached a certain level of predictability. She’s been down to just the one nap in the afternoon for a while now, and the times we can expect her to wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night have been reasonably consistent. That’s all good, except preschool is about to wreak havoc on all of that.
You see, she’s going to be attending the afternoon class at her preschool and the timing of the class aligns (and conflicts) almost precisely with her usual afternoon naps. And so, as parents, we are now faced with a dilemma. What should we do?
Option #1: Nap Before School
We could try to squeeze in a nap before she goes to school. This introduces a few challenging dynamics. She would still need to eat some lunch before we take her to class, so that would mean she would need to wake up from her nap around noon. If that’s the case, it means her nap would need to start shortly after 10am or so.
Right now, she usually wakes up around 7 or 8 o’clock and somehow I find it very unlikely that she’ll want to go down for a nap a mere two or three hours after waking up. To shoot for a 10am nap, she’d have to get up no later than 5am… and that doesn’t sound like fun for anyone involved.
Option #2: Nap After School
By the time we get home and we try to settle her down for a nap, it’ll likely be around 4 o’clock (and that’s optimistic). If we let her nap for an hour or two, this could push bedtime into the midnight range, which probably isn’t the best idea for a three-year-old. I mean, the occasional exception — like if we’re attending a wedding banquet and we stay out late — is perfectly fine, but I don’t want to see this as her “usual” bedtime.
It also virtually eliminates any possibility of a third shift for me, for better or for worse.
Option #3: Skip Afternoon Naps Entirely
The third option is to get her drop her afternoon naps altogether, amalgamating all of her rest requirements into the regular overnight sleep. Experts (and parents) say that different kids drop their naps at different ages. Some stop napping when they’re three years old. Some might still be napping when they’re five. It depends and it varies.
Truth be told, I could use a nap myself some days. Okay, most days. Okay, pretty much every day.
If we do end up taking this route, it’ll likely mean that her bedtime will be earlier (just after dinner). That might not be such a bad thing on regular days, but it could prove a little challenging if we end up going out late for whatever reason.
Choose Your Own Adventure
I’m not completely convinced what we should do. I totally realize that our situation is hardly unique and millions of other parents have gone through the same thing. It doesn’t make the decision any less nerve-wracking for me. Classes haven’t even begun and I’m already learning so much at preschool. What’s that? My daughter is the one who’s supposed to be learning? Why not both?
Any more experienced parents out there care to offer some insight or advice? What did you do when it came time for your kids to start preschool? How should I handle this whole nap situation?