We have officially crossed that bridge. The one that was a bit wobbly at times, a bit uncertain, and one that I was more than happy to stay on the other side of for the time being. As our youngest passed the 2 1/2 mark, night time became even more of a challenge. Okay, who am I kidding? His bedtimes have pushed the proverbial envelope since we moved him into a 'big boy' bed after he climbed out of his crib. A whole story in itself -- At 16 months he tried to climb out of his crib. Most likely, he twisted his leg in between the slats and then fell to the floor. Unlike most children who accomplish the climb largely unharmed, Nathan ended up with a broken leg. He took some of his first steps with that blue cast on (late walker, made later by the injury). Bedtime was never the same.
Finally, we have gotten to that point where naps seemed to cut into his ability to fall asleep at bedtime and became somewhat optional. For a while we wavered in the middle of the bridge, struggling with his evening crabbiness with bedtime still an hour or more away. We made it though, and here we are. After almost 11 years of afternoon naps, that time is ended. Occasionally someone falls asleep in the car, or in the middle of afternoon read aloud time, or some other quiet activity. It feels so grown up, though. No more nappers. We all just go to bed at night and awake in the morning (hopefully with no events in between).
So . . . what does it mean? I still like to keep our afternoons quiet. I love to read aloud, and we are currently working our way through a few books during that time: Richard Halliburton's Complete Book of Marvels, Hillyer's A Child's History of the World, and Howard Pyle's Men of Iron. We still do school, of course, with the older ones, so I just have a bigger audience now. We spend time on geography each afternoon, some days we dabble in Spanish or have our PE and then Science time. The days are never long enough for all there is to learn in God's amazing world, and now all my kids are involved the whole day! I do miss sneaking into my own bed for a few minutes of shut eye, or curling up with my little one for a little snooze as he dozes off. Precious memories.
Sometimes I do like to disengage myself from their learning for a few minutes, encouraging their independence and discovery. I have found some great ways to keep the kids engaged (all of them, 2-10 years old) Educational videos are a great 30 minutes now and then. I usually try to keep one eye on it so we can discuss as well at the end. Independent art projects are something they all sink their hands into: playdough, drawing, pipe cleaner creations. Audio books are available at the library, or even online. I love the illustration that teaching different ages is like a bus ride -- we all get on together and then each child gets off at their appropriate stop. They absorb and contribute at their level, while still being challenged to reach for the next one.
Our mornings are more individualized, but the afternoon we all work together, so No-Nap Land isn't all that bad. Just one more to join us on the journey of learning all day long. Sweet memories of those baby and toddler days that pass more quickly than ever imaginable, and now adventuring ahead into more learning and growing together.