It’s official: At 23 months, Maria is not napping anymore. It’s kind of a shock for me, although it has been coming for quite some time.
I remember when she was 18 months, Maria suddenly resisted sleep during the day. Whenever that happened, she would usually fall asleep later in the afternoon, sometimes as late as 4:30 p.m. outside in the stroller.
During our stint in Holland, she would be on bed for an hour (or more!) before she fell asleep, or not sleep at all. On other days, I had to wake her up after 2.5 hours of deep sleep.
Back in New Zealand, she continued taking naps most of the days, but more and more often she would not sleep at all if I put her to bed. She would read books, talk to her teddy, sing songs, you name it. At times, I put her down just to have some time for myself, if only to take a shower.
Last week, however, she slept perhaps once during the day. On other days she looked tired, but she wouldn’t fall asleep. Even if I took her out in the stroller, she would stay wide awake. Most of the time, she seems to be okay until bedtime, so I guess she really doesn’t need the sleep anymore. What’s more, yesterday we had a full program going to the playground and swimming. She fell asleep in the stroller and slept for almost an hour. But that one hour made it hard for her to sleep in the evening – only around 9 p.m. she stopped chatting and singing!
A few days ago, we went out for breakfast and got into a conversation with an older lady and her husband. According to her, “the brighter they are, the less sleep they need”. I’ll take that! And apart from the lack of daytime naps, we are very happy with Maria’s sleep. She usually goes to bed around 8 p.m. and wakes up at 7 or even 7:15 a.m.
The photo above says it all: Maria is getting stubborn! I took this snapshot on a trip, and Maria insisted to go down the stairs by herself. The stair railing was too high for her to hold onto, but she refused to take my hand. Oh well…
I take the phrase terrible twos with a grain of salt, because, in all honesty, I love seeing how Maria’s character develops and how she tries to do more and more by herself.
But I won’t deny that it is challenging at times. Going somewhere quickly is out of the question – Maria loves to walk. It also means it takes a whole lot of effort to keep her out of the kitchen when I try to cook. Or convincing her that she cannot have cheese for breakfast, lunch AND dinner.
Ever Expanding World
On a more positive note, it is fascinating to see Maria discovering the world. Her increasing vocabulary makes it easier for her to make herself clear. When she is hungry or thirsty, she can tell us. Even if she needs a clean diaper she will tell us (in the unlikely case we haven’t smelled it yet).
We can do more and more activities with her. Last month, for instance, we went blueberry picking. We did so last year as well, but this time she could actually help picking the berries.
It amazes me how many words Maria knows: book, reading, coat, cold, hot, put here, give me, mouse, cat, spoon, eating, little bit, piece, walking, jumping, sleeping, nose, mouth, head, feet, belly button, pants, diaper, playing, ball, blocks, book, girl, baby, bear, apple, bread, tomato,… the list goes on and on. And while her Dutch vocabulary is the most expansive, she knows many of these words also in Arabic.
Maria’s favorite pass times and toys: blocks, reading books, water play, pushing a stroller, drawing/painting and the swings.
Plans and Ideas
With Maria’s second birthday approaching, I start to think more and more about returning to work or doing something else for myself. In New Zealand, the government offers 20 free hours of kindergarten from 3 years onwards, but many centers offer this from the moment the child turns 2. I always thought we were not eligible with our visa, but it appears we actually are. This means Maria could go there for a number of hours, giving me the chance to work or study. Besides, I think it would be good for Maria to spend some time without me and with other kids. I stopped breastfeeding about a week ago as well, making it easier for her to be away from me.
Besides, I would like to have some time for myself. I have many ideas but no concrete plans as of yet, so this is something I will try to figure out in the weeks to come.