“My youngest stopped napping,” my friend complained to me one day. She was worried about not having any time to herself during the day. To watch a little television or have a cup of coffee alone or to do some chore uninterrupted or to be on her phone. “I mean, we’ve worked so hard at this schedule. What do I do now?”
“Is it every day?” I asked.
“Most days now,” she sighed. “He might fall asleep in the car now and then.”
“What about quiet time?”
“My older ones are starting to fight that too,” she sobbed.
It was then that I knew she was ready. She was about to be told a great mommy secret. I sat her down and told her not to worry about the schedule. About how she’s better off with an earlier bedtime than an afternoon nap. “You get down time with your husband now,” I told her. “Alone. After the kids go to sleep. To watch TV that isn’t a cartoon. You’ll love it.”
“I don’t know if I can put them to bed earlier.”
“Sure you can,” I assured her. “And, you don’t have to rush home after being out all morning for that damn nap. You can actually stay out of the house in the afternoon. It’s very liberating.”
“I’ve heard all that before,” she said. “I’m still not ready for it.”
“Don’t worry,” I consoled her. “You’ve just graduated, that’s all.”
“Graduated to what?”
“To the afternoon play date.”
“What’s that?” she wondered.
So, I told her about it. Even though my kids weren’t that much older than hers, she hung on my every word, trying to understand how an afternoon play date was better than a toddler-free afternoon. I described a typical scene. In the afternoon, the kids are usually old enough to play on their own, leaving the moms alone for much gossiping. “You can leave the morning play dates behind forever.”
“What’s so wrong with morning play dates?”
“You can’t drink wine at them.”
“What? Wine? At a play date?”
She was angry that she’d never been told about these types of play dates before. “That’s because you weren’t able to handle it before,” I told her mocking the famous line from a Few Good Men, You can’t handle the truth.
“Before my youngest gave up the nap?”
“Yes. And, once you find that group of moms that drink, you will never do a morning play date again. I promise.”
“And the kids are OK?” she worried anxiously.
“Of course they are.”
“That actually sounds fun. Wine at a play date,” she smiled. “I always bring these Trader Joes muffins.” She gestured to the untouched gluten-free dozen.
“Let’s have one here on Friday,” I suggested. “But remember, husbands may not understand. The first time I had an afternoon play date I served my husband the leftovers and he was like, um, ‘I can’t just eat chip crumbs, salsa, two chicken nuggets, one mini-cupcake, and white wine for dinner.’”
“I’ll make his dinner before coming over,” she decided.
Good luck as you give up the afternoon nap and graduate to the afternoon play date.