The most profound thing I read about parenting this year–maybe ever– came from Jim Gaffigan’s book Dad is Fat. (Maybe this says I need to read more seriously on the art of raising children. But maybe not! Because this is pure gold.)
Naps are a necessity. Unfortunately, around the age of three, there comes a time when napping your child becomes counterproductive. It’s not worth it. The nap during the day for a three-year-old becomes a payday loan…If you take the payday loan of some free time by letting your cranky, drowsy, three-year-old succumb to the relinquished nap habit, be prepared that your child will be awake very late. When I say awake, I really mean a nuisance to your life and sanity…When I say late, I mean late. A three-year-old with insomnia is very similar to a heroin addict going through withdrawal. There is nothing that calms them. They can’t focus. You can’t tell them enough stories. They don’t understand why they are awake four hours past their bedtime…
Sure, while your three-year-old naps during the day, you can get some work done, nap yourself, or waste time the internet, but at what cost? Now it’s payday, and you squandered your loan on what?
Seriously: mind blown. Of course it’s common sense that the easy way out NOW often ends up costing you big time in the long run, not just with naps but with basically every aspect of parenting (or, you know, life). So although the insight is not new, the metaphor of the payday loan has been useful to me in those moments when I’m tempted to turn on the TV, drive through Chick Fil A (again), yell threats from the couch, or otherwise fall prey to the temping lazy short-cut the moment.
Here’s to a Merry Christmas and an interest-free New Year.