Unicorn Babies and The Myth of The Tandem Nap

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A unicorn baby is that perfect child that naps twice a day, easily transitions in feeding stages, is a good balance of independent and clingy, sleeps well, eats well and basically follows a majority of the pages right out of the parenting manual. A tandem nap is a myth.

My mother always said that if you had had your second child first, you’d never have had more children. Guess what little sister, that makes me the Unicorn baby.

I am 3 kids into parenthood and I don’t know if that is actually the truth. I adore all three of my kidiots and want all three of them always, no matter the order. BUT I was recently on the phone with my aunt, long distance (yes, that’s still a thing) and my decently behaved toddlers were using their vocal prowess to attempt to deafen me while I was on the phone. Don’t they nap at the same time?ย I laughed because I thought she was trying to be funny. She wasn’t. When I told her that, no, they didn’t she insisted that I make them.

It is fair to note that she raised two kids of her own. I am thinking that she used chloroform, because she went on like two toddlers napping regularly at the same time was thing, and not just some anomaly you celebrate with mid-day wine and trashy TV every once in a blue fucking moon.

The tandem nap is a myth at my house because I welcome the myth. I tried welcoming the nap, but I am out-numbered on the energy level and I have resigned to outdoor play with barefoot kidiots instead of worrying over making them nap simultaneously.

Oliver is 7, and when I had Oliver it was just he and I. I was working and finishing college and we basically napped at the same time. Twice a day. Every day. Oliver, my friends, is a Unicorn. Oliver is the hands-down best sleeper you’ll ever find. He started sleeping through the night consistently at maybe 4 months old and took two daily naps, from 10:30 to 12 and from 4:00- 5:00, from birth until they started making him go to school full time.ย  He even got an award for being the “Best Napper” in his pre-school. Shit you not. That’s the kind of award one can only aspire to win. He will occasionally take a nap to this day if we are having a lazy day or a long, hard day of work.

Madeline and Henry are 15 months apart. This was a surprise, and accident if you will. Although doing the thing that makes the little people was no accident, it is better just to say that having two babies that close in age was an unplanned event. It was fortuitous. Madeline was a fucking demon to sleep train. Congress would be proud, because no matter what we tried She Peristed. We eventually won after consistency in our routine of rocking a shrieking baby to sleep for 3 months straight, for 3 hours straight. It was rough but it was worth it. After that she became a Unicorn. Well, maybe not a Unicorn – but a well-trained Arabian.ย  She would ask for a nap midday when she got tired. Putting her to bed was as easy as saying “Madeline, it’s time for bed.” We could even catch a nap together in the afternoons before Oliver got home from school and I swear she would just close her eyes and sleep soundly. None of this is made up.

After Henry was born, the first couple months the two littles would nap in tandem. They did so just long enough for me to think that I was a capable parent with my shit together. They conspired for a little while, leading me to develop a routine that I would be seriously pissed about them interrupting. Then Madeline quit napping. Henry goes down great for bed in the evening, but a nap is apparently asking too much. He has to be snuggled in an MMA position for exactly 37 minutes, in silence and near darkness, in order to fall asleep in the daytime. If, by some miracle I can recreate these conditions, I give Madeline free reign of Dora the Explora on repeat on the living room TV. She alwaysย needs something while I am “arm-barring” the baby to sleep, which keeps him from napping. So now, no body naps.

I have no idea if there are still Unicorn babies like Oliver, or even well trained Equestrian Horse babies like Madeline was, albeit fleeting. Now, instead of wishing for the tandem nap, I cherish the “quiet time”, where Madeline will play in her room for 20 minutes, while I lay with Henry. He refuses to nap, but to have a little lay down with him in the quiet is ok. The rest of the time we are shrieking Pterodactyls and mess makers.

I used to dread nap time before I just loosened the F Up.



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  • Tee April 8, 2017 at 7:33 pm

    LOL, I laughed the whole way through reading this. You’re such a good writer, but also what you say is soo true. Before i had my little one, i thought sleeping / napping was natural and I didn’t have to do anything but alas, I needed to think and work hard at it. It worked well in the end but it wasn’t smooth for us. I must say you seem to be doing well with the 3. I have 1 and sometimes I think I have many!

  • sar_ii April 8, 2017 at 7:44 pm

    Sleep is so hard! And everyone talks boutique babies sleeping like they are so damn good at it – the reality is that they suck at it like everything else ๐Ÿ˜… your doing a good job mama

  • Ellyn April 13, 2017 at 10:51 pm

    Dude, your daughter plays by herself in her room? For 20 minutes? That is what I would call a Unicorn! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜ญ
    I had my two boys 15 months apart too! Also not on purpose! The subsequent tubal ligation was very much on purpose. ๐Ÿ‘

  • sar_ii April 14, 2017 at 12:47 am

    Haha me too!! โœ‚ and I may have oversold those 20 minutes – she might be quiet but she is certainly destroying something ๐Ÿ˜œ


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