On Monday morning, Gwen woke up at 6am.
On Tuesday morning, Gwen woke up at 6am.
On Wednesday morning - today - Gwen woke up at 5:30am.
Well, that's enough of that, isn't it?
There are two main avenues to dealing with this (well, three, if you count industrial-sized earplugs and a slug of brandy): either we adjust her bedtime or we adjust her naptime.
Thus, only a few days after writing that her nap schedule is good and solid and doesn't need any intervention, I'm intervening. I really don't want to change her bedtime if we can avoid it. Those evening hours are vital for Chris and I to recharge, to connect, and to Get Things Done. Just the idea of her staying up for another hour makes me want to curl up and whimper. It'll be fine when she's a bit more self-sufficient - when she can at least entertain herself, for Pete's sake - but for now, no.
So, naptime it is. On both Tuesday and Wednesday, she napped for over 3 hours, and on Monday, it was over 2.5. On each of those three days, she declined to take a second nap, and who can blame her? Three hours of midday sleep is entirely adequate. I was a little worried about how she'd deal with the long stretch between waking after the so-called "first" nap, around noon, and bedtime, around 7pm. But she has done fine.
I had these preconceived notions that if she was to have only one nap, it should be in the afternoon, not at 9:00am (if she wakes up at 6, she's down for a nap by 9). I even examined these assumptions to make sure I actually had some reason and logic behind them rather than just blindly following protocol. Admittedly, protocol is the start, because after my in-depth search for daycare last month I heard over and over and over about every daycare's daily routine, which invariably included "...then lunch, and then naptime." I reasoned that her current nap schedule often prevents us from eating lunch until 1 or 2pm, and that eating at noon and then napping afterwards does make more sense.
Furthermore, assuming she can be awake for six or seven continuous hours - which, wow - they may as well be the ones for which interesting things are happening. For now, this includes playdates, swim sessions, library story time, Strong Start, etc. In a few weeks, such a schedule will match up well with the other kids at her daycare.
So, she's been getting about 11 hours of sleep a night plus 3-4 hours of naptime. The hope is that if we eliminate the second nap altogether, and possibly set a limit to the naptime if necessary, she'll sleep longer at night. According to my sleep Bible, The No-Cry Sleep Solution, kids this age still need about 12 hours at night as well as 2-3 hours during the day.
I'm going to try delaying her naptime tomorrow until after lunch - a three-hour change. Dramatic, yes, but she coped fine this afternoon with no sleep between 1:30 and 7pm, so I'm optimistic.
Overall I know we're pretty spoiled. Plenty of parents are still dealing with night wakings, and we encounter them so rarely that when they do occur, we look at each other in confusion, like "....um ... do you remember how we're supposed to handle this?" On the flip side, though, it's one thing to sleep for a few hours, then get up and feed/soothe a baby for 20 minutes, and then go back to sleep. It's another thing altogether to sleep for a few hours, then get up and feed/soothe a baby, and then start your day. Plus, have I ever mentioned I don't drink coffee?
Wish me luck tomorrow!