31 May 2009

Nursery Bound

This Sunday, Blake will officially be old enough to attend nursery during church. This is a day that parents eagerly look forward to. It means that they are no longer sitting through Sunday School and other meetings trying to entertain, feed, and keep a restless toddler quiet. It symbolizes the end of strolling the hallways in a desperate attempt to get the wiggles out and return to class. It means being able to actually listen to the lessons being taught and maybe even participate. It results in toys, friends, space, and snacks for the inquisitive and fidgety toddler. It is truly an anticipated milestone.

For us, the privilege of nursery is the opposite of anticipated, in fact, it is completely dreaded. Since we rotate church times, we have the awful meeting time of 1:00pm this year. Being in church from 1-4pm is basically a nightmare for trying to fit in nap time.

So, I have dreaded, fretted about, and worried over the onset of nursery every day since I found out about the afternoon meeting time last September (worrying is what moms do best). So far this year, we have had a system that has worked pretty well for us. We all go to Sacrament Meeting together because we feel that is the most important meeting. Then, one of us takes Blake home for a nap which is still at 2:30pm, an hour and a half later than usual. The other one of us stays for Sunday School and then we switch again for the 3rd hour. We rotate who goes to which meeting from week to week. We live close enough to our church building that this system works quite well. It actually is nice because instead of being out in the hall the entire time with an overtired toddler, we each get to sit and listen to at least one lesson. Of course it is not the ideal situation. We would like to both be there for all meetings, but it has worked for us thus far.

Now, we have the dilemma of nursery vs. nap. We're torn, because we think that nursery is an important experience for every child of this age to have. It represents the beginning of their church-taught gospel education, independence from us, and is a great social tool that every toddler is entitled to. However, consistent nap time is also a high priority, especially for a child this young. I'm not a stickler on many things, but when it comes to taking naps, they are set in stone in our household.

Most of my inflexibility when it comes to nap time is in relation to Blake's temperament. He has never been very spirited, active, strong-willed, intense, or easy to anger. He is, however, an incredibly cautious child. He tends to be happy and peaceful but he does not like surprises. He lives life in the slow lane. He really assesses before he does new things. He thrives on a predictable, unchanging routine. He falls apart when he is forced to tweak his napping schedule, sleep in a new place, or change time zones. It often takes him up to 3 days to get back on schedule when he is thrown off for a day. He will sleep in his crib and no where else, including our arms and his carseat. He shys away from unfamiliar people and places. He struggles with separation anxiety and offers generous waves and bye-byes only after guests have walked out the front door. He is ultrasensitive to things such as lights being on, food being dropped on the floor, and items not being in place. He is also very clingy, trailing me from room to room all day long.

I have read from several books concerning cautious temperaments. Gratefully, I have learned that Blake's temperament was not caused by my being overprotective (which I often worried about). He has been this way from birth as each child is born with unique traits and behaviors. He will get better and braver, as long as I am gently encouraging. The best thing I can do for him is provide a predictable schedule, weaved with repetition and routine to help him feel safe and confident.

My point is that his cautious temperament mixed with an unfamiliar nursery at 2:30 in the afternoon is basically a recipe for disaster. This is why I have worried about it for the past nine months or so. However, despite everything, we still really want to try out nursery because it feels like the right thing to do and eventually will be a great stepping stone for our child. I also was recently called to teach Young Women's during the third church hour, and Troy has his own responsibilities during that time, so the debate about nursery is soon not going to be about if Blake goes, but rather how we are going to make the transition.

We are not the only ones with a toddler that are dealing with the afternoon church time. It seems like everyone is coming up with a solution that works for them. One toddler lays down her blanket and sleeps in the middle of the nursery each week (I can guarantee that Blake will not do that). Another toddler goes to bed at 11pm, wakes up late, and doesn't even take a nap till 4pm. The other children in nursery are older and are transitioning out of nap time, so they just skip the nap altogether.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has dealt with this predicament. Here are some options I have come up with so far:
  1. Try to get Blake to take a nap from 10:30am to 1pm, just before church. This is my favorite option, but I am worried that Blake will just play in his crib, will barely fall asleep, and then we'll have to wake him up again.
  2. Skip the nap altogether and put him down super early for bed. This is my least favorite option. First of all, an overtired, cautious child in nursery is not a good idea. Also, when Blake's bedtime is adjusted, he generally gets thrown off for several days, and will start getting up several hours earlier. I don't want to spend half of the week making up for missed sleep on Sunday.
I am counting the weeks until we're back at the 9am meeting time.


6 comments:

  1. oh boy do I relate!!! I am the same way with naps!!! It is not an option in our house and dave and i spent countless Sundays switching back and forth. I have also spent about 6 months spending an hour in nursery with her because of her stranger anxiety and apprehension to leave me. We started doing an early nap before church. She can easily nap from 11-12 now, but that sounds like it won't work for you since Blake will nap for longer (Quinn has never been a long napper). One good thing to look forward to: since Quinn has gotten a little older (she's 2) she is more flexible with her naps. I was going to skip her nap altogether yesterday, but as soon as we got home at 2:30 she said she wanted to lay down. And then she still went to bed at her usual 7 pm. That would not have worked 6 months ago!!! So hopefully you don't have to struggle with this for too long. But it's crazy how much Blake sounds like Quinn with sleep/separation/and routine. Good luck!!! (and oh--yesterday Quinn actually TOLD me to leave and go to class after about 15 minutes...ha, I never saw that coming!!!)

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  2. I'm having much the same problem with Joanthan, however I have one twist, I have been in the nursurey with him for the last 5 months. So we are used to not taking naps (kind of) but he is also used to having me in there. Yesterday was his first time without me...he cried for 20 minutes and I finally went and got him, poor little guy. He was extra tired yesterday and took a 4 hour nap when we got home, I couldn't believe it! I'm hoping next week will go better. Good luck, I'm praying for you.

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  3. First of all...that is a super cute picture of Blake!

    I wish I had some advice that would make it easier on you, but I think you have thought of it from just about as many angles as you could possibly. I hope all works out for you and things will get easier. I agree, though, that it is important for him to go to nursery. Have you thought of maybe easing him into it (like 15-30 minutes then home for a nap and increase it as he allows?)

    Good luck!

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  4. So we would put Ryland to bed before church, like you have listed. I was concerned about the changed nap time, but when we went through is sleep time routine (story, rocking, singing) and gave him his lovey, he knew right what to do, even if it wasn't the usual time. Ryland is spirited and sticks to a routine. But this worked for us. Good luck. Our nursery is creeping up on us too.

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  5. So many dilemmas and issues with toddlers!! I so feel you pain. We have experienced some major adjustments to Brody's naps since he stopped sleeping in a crib. He was an amazingly content and wonderful baby with sleeping and eating and now as he has grown up he has completely changed. I feel as much as children get used to a daily routine they get used to things that happen weekly. Brody knows what is in store for him when we go to church. The first few months Brody was great in nursery THEN he went through separation anxiety problem and honestly me staying in nursery didn't help - it just prolonged the separation. So I followed the logic of just ripping off the bandaid and just left him. The first 6 weeks or so he would cry and be sad when I first left him but he would stop after about 10 minutes and then hang by the door the rest of the time. Then after that phase he was fine. Its also a great introduction to a classroom setting away from parents and depending on if you and Troy will have him go to preschool it could be the only classroom setting till kindergarden. I would give each option you listed a try for about a month and see how he takes to each one. It will suck and it will be a big adjustment cause you have to deal with the after-effects of each option but at least you can see how Blake reacts to each one.I am sure after a couple months he will adjust to the change. Especially with how cautious Blake sounds perhaps seeing how kids are and being around them for 2 hours could brake down some barriers and help him adjust to changes better as he gets older. Good luck to you both!!

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  6. We have already talked a lot about this on the phone, so I don't have much new to add. I was just going to remind you that you are a child development major, and this is YOUR child, so no one is going to know better than you what to do. However, some things just have to be figured out by trial and error. There are probably going to be some rough weeks ahead, but you'll all get through it, and eventually he'll do great.

    Hopefully you can find a way to make nursery work. I agree that naps are super important, but this is also his first chance to get his feet wet before a long string of new situations, like pre-school, kindergarten, etc. Since he does struggle with separation, probably better not to put it off any longer!

    I thought everyone else had good suggestions and advice. Hope you can figure out a plan. Good luck!

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