It's no secret that nights in our household are not as peaceful or as restful as we adults would like them to be. My first round of sleep training for S helped but was derailed by some other issues that I'm still not ready to let go of yet to start re-training. He wakes up at least three times a night, between bedtime at 6:30-7pm and waking up at 6-7am. And more often he's waking up every 2 to 3 hours wanting to eat or be comforted. K wakes up at least once most nights of the week, sometimes a couple of times and sometimes staying up for a while. Thus, nights are not much fun for me.
However, S is a pretty good napper during the day. He takes two naps, morning and afternoon, and they last at LEAST an hour (unless he's sick or something weird happens). Most of the time he naps 1 1/2 to 2 hours for each nap, and sometimes he'll even give me 2 1/2 to 3 hours!
Now that I have had both a napper and a non-napper I can confidently say that there is ABSOLUTELY NO COMPARISON in quality of life and parenting.
I used to be jealous of people who talked about their sleeping and napping children. I always suspected that the world was a different place for them, and it's true. If a parent has always had children who nap, they literally have no idea how much harder in every possible way life is for the rest of us.
K was not a napper. His "naps" were 20-40 minutes for his whole life. The first few weeks of life, I would get longer stretches of sleep from him, but that quickly disappeared. Then that awful, useless 20-40 minutes. You can't do anything in that amount of time. If I was exhausted from a long, sleepless night it wasn't even enough time for me to fall asleep if I laid down for my own nap. If I decided to get stuff done, it was enough time to take a shower OR make and eat lunch OR get some cleaning done.
There is a tension level as a parent that surrounds your sanity. At certain points in the day or week, the tension is high and you are at a breaking point. You need some time alone, some quiet, a chance to be uninterrupted for a few moments. Nap time provides that. It lets you loosen the slack, take a breath, grab a firmer hold of your sanity and prep for the rest of your day or week with the little person you really do love and cherish.
When your child doesn't take a decent nap, or a nap at all, the tension level stays elevated. The wire around your sanity frays and snaps around. It is hard to be strong, to go toe to toe with a strong-willed or even just high energy child.
Now that I have a baby who naps, my days are so much better. Even though K does not nap (and hasn't napped regularly for over a year now), I can feel the difference. It is much easier to let go of stress when S is sleeping. I can let K watch TV and take a shower and still have time to do a few other things, either with K or while K is occupied. Despite having two kids now, I feel more peaceful than I did when I just had one.
Anyone that gives moms of non-sleepers a hard time for losing their tempers, being negative, complaining, not being as involved or proactive with their kids needs to realize how hard life is for those moms. They need a break, because heaven knows that the kids sure aren't giving them one!