Screwed by an unplanned nap?

Mar 3, 2008 at 3:00 a.m. ET

It's 5:30 in the evening. Your baby is in the den playing with an educational toy, listening to classical music. You're in the kitchen preparing an organic, health conscious gourmet meal for your family while watching Nova. Okay, okay... Your baby is zoning out in front of "Teletubbies" while you're in the kitchen nuking some neon-colored macaroni and cheese while watching "E! True Hollywood Story." Regardless of the scenario, your baby nods off in mid-tubbie custard. What are you supposed to do now?

You have two options: Wake him up and deal with a cranky baby until his bedtime, or let him sleep straight through dinner and run the risk of having him wake up at four in the morning hungry and raring to go for the day?Many "experts" would advise that you wake up your child and put him to bed at his regular bedtime. But then again, these "experts" aren't the ones who'll have to deal with him for the next three hours.  Besides, these "experts" would also be adverse to your choice of dinner and, even worse, frown on you for letting your kid watch TV at all. Great, thanks for the advice, Now let's talk reality.

Their sleep, or your sanity?

In real life, we moms tend to deal with situations like this on a case-to-case basis. For instance, if little Petunia falls asleep right before dinner, and you've had such a horrible day that you're one step away from shaving your head and joining a cult that frowns upon things like procreation, then by all means take the night off and go to bed early. Sure, you may be up at four A.M., but at least you'll still have hair.If, on the other hand, it's your kid who's had the bad day and you're feeling strong, then wake him up. Sure, he'll be pissed off, but he'll get over it. He's going to have many occasions to be mad at you throughout his lifetime like when you kiss him goodbye in front of his friends, or when you refuse to buy him those trendy sneakers that all the other kids have.Keep in mind, this "not sure whether to wake your kid up or not" also applies to a nap that lasts much longer than usual. While it's great to have a chunk of time during the day when you don't have to deal with things like diaper changes and projectile vomit, you also stress out knowing that your baby won't go to bed until midnight because he won't be tired. How could he be after a four hour nap? You do the math.And while this to-wake-or-not-wake confusion is horribly difficult to deal with, there are some things in life that are even worse. So, in hopes of putting this naptime frustration in perspective, take a further read....

Worse things in life than having to deal with a messed-up sleeping schedule:

  • Your husband tells you he's leaving you because he found his soul mate in Tori Spelling.
  • You lock your keys, and your baby, inside the car.
  • Your computer crashes along with the thing you use to back up the files.
  • You weigh yourself and discover that you somehow found the 10 pounds that you've managed to lose.
  • Since nothing else has worked, you try to remove the sap from your car hood with nail polish remover, but don't figure out the problem with this strategy until it's too late.
  • Your husband's company informs him that, instead of his much needed Christmas bonus, they've decided to go another way and make a generous donation in his name instead.
  • Your period's late!

For more from Joanne Kimes, author of
Bedtime Sucks, visit 

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