Ah, nap time. That space-time continuum where all our dreams could come true, but usually don't. After all, if your kid naps more than an hour (God willing), you could:
- wash and dry the dishes
- do the laundry
- sweep the floor
- do homework/work work
- read that book you've been meaning to
- call that so-and-so you've been needing to
- plan your calendar
- sit and savor doing absolutely nothing
- catch up on TV shows
- finally clip your toenails
- actually sit down to a peaceful meal
- sit, relax, and have a minute to yourself
I get it, ladies. I am right in you corner when it comes to taking nap time for my own. It's not like my kid falls asleep and my first desire is to type up an article about hospice care. There are definitely days where you need to do some self-care, which often includes doing nothing at all. But, if you're anything like me, you also have a mondo-huge to-do list that ain't gonna do itself, so nap time becomes a battle of "I should, but...I don't wanna."
And to non-SAHMs, this post might show some of our vulnerabilities. Yes, we sometimes watch TV and do nothing when given the chance, but I think we can all agree that a full-time caregiver deserves a break during the day if he or she should be so lucky. Regardless, it's a battle, and we need to pick and choose what we're going to agonize over.
Here are my tried and true (but frequently ignored by me) tips to getting the most out of nap time:
1. Have a Plan
If you already know the essentials that must get done during nap time, have those things in the forefront of your mind (or the forefront of your notes app). Calling the insurance company, putting dinner in the crockpot, or doing that sink full of smelly dishes could be examples. Limit yourself to 1-3 essentials, and then plan some "me" time afterward. If you play your cards right, you can accomplish a lot and take some sweet time for yourself afterward.
But, be warned...I have tried to do the "me" time first, but the "essentials" never seem to get done when I do that. So, stick to this order like gum on a shoe: 1. essentials, then 2. me time.
2. MultitaskThis is what we're born for, ladies! We rock at multitasking, so why not embrace it in a way that benefits you? Fold laundry while you catch up on your favorite TV show. Do the dishes while you listen to music or watch TV. Listen to an audiobook while you sweep the floor and wipe down the counters. It is possible to do two things at once, so go ahead and give it a whirl!
3. Get a Head Start
I find that when I use my morning well, nap time becomes less stressful because I have less to do. Yes, some tasks are impossible to do with a needy toddler around, but others are just a little difficult while still being probable. It helps me to try to shower in the morning (rather than during nap time) and to try to eat a good-enough lunch while I'm feeding my toddler lunch, too.
With a shower and lunch (and even the first load of laundry) already checked off my list, I have nap time left to write, watch TV, or--dare I say it--take a nap! It doesn't happen every day, but sometimes a little extra effort in the morning makes for the perfect nap time.
4. Be Kind to Yourself
It's all too easy to get down on yourself when nap time comes and goes, and you haven't done a productive thing or you whittle away your time looking at Facebook. But, please know that everyone needs time to unwind and do nothing--just don't let it take over your golden free time. That's what nap time is, after all. It's like a treasure that's powerful and fleeting, and we have to do our best to take advantage of it.
If you don't clean the entire house or write a best-selling novel during nap time, all is not lost. Just remember that this time won't last forever, and you might as well make good use of it to help keep yourself sane. Do your best--that's all anyone can ask.