While I was tidying up downstairs, Enzo was supposed to be eating yogurt and a sweet bun upstairs… what he was actually doing was spreading yogurt all over my couch, the carpet, the wall, himself, and multiple toys. He also crumbled the bun all over the couch… somehow into a fine powder. Though he often gets to sit on the couch in the morning, eating breakfast and having some screen time, this particular day, he decided to make a mess of an otherwise normal — without incidence — routine.
The day to day of being a parent can be challenging — also beautiful, exciting, rewarding, etc. — but because even the most simple of situations can shift so very quickly, and because children are literally supposed to be throwing tantrums, getting into everything, making messes, etc. in order to learn, grow and develop, nap time is “me time” most days of the week in my house, and here’s why you should consider doing the same… especially if you’re a stay-at-home parent.
Being a stay-at-home mom was my dream far before Baby E ever came into this world… and it still is. I feel incredibly blessed to be able to be with my child from the moment he wakes up in the morning until the moment he goes to bed at night… and through the night. BUT, all that togetherness means very little time to myself. I also happen to be one of those moms who lacks balance and has never been away from my child for more than 8 hours and that happened once… so, there’s that. And no, he’s not even in day care.
Anyway, for the first two years of E’s life, I would hurriedly rush around when he fell asleep for nap. I mean, to be fair, up until he was about a year old he only took 15 – 20 minute naps, but even once they climbed to an hour, I couldn’t shake that habit. It felt like the easiest time to get certain tasks done and I hated to “waste” the quiet, uninterrupted time. How much easier is it to load the dishwasher when you don’t have a little one trying to grab the dishes out, climb onto the dishwasher door, watch that they don’t grab anything sharp, etc.?? Wayyyy easier. How much more quickly can you fold a load of laundry without a little one climbing into the fresh clothes and knocking over the neatly folded piles? Muchhh easier. But, I’ve changed my tune and you should probably consider it too.
If, like me, you don’t have much — if any — time to yourself, nap time can be a much needed break from the madness and… a reset. I sometimes use it for a quick 30 minute workout (something I will be doing more regularly very soon), I often take a shower in peace, I meditate, I read, I blog, I eat lunch without having to help my kid eat his lunch, I write in my gratitude journal, I catch up on trash TV, I have uninterrupted calls with friends, or on a particularly crazy day…. I just sit quietly (for a few minutes anyway.) If I was still doing remote work from home, I could also use nap time for that because that’s something for me. Since I began the practice of “me time” at nap time, I find myself to be a calmer, more collected and patient mom. If needed (and let’s be honest, most days it is… at least in this toddler stage of life), I’m able to adjust my head space and put the chaos of the morning behind me so I can be a better more present mom in the afternoon… something that can be incredibly difficult if I don’t allow myself the time to reset.
Now, if your child takes three hour naps so you’re having a hard time wrapping your mind around this concept, I get it. Enzo only takes one hour naps and I feel entirely great about giving myself an hour out of the day. If E took longer naps, I might use the first half for myself, and the second half to get housework done. I also only have one child, so if you have multiple with different nap schedules, none of this may be feasible at the moment. But, something I’ve realized that’s important to note, I think it is crucial for kids to see all the work that’s done at home… I don’t want Enzo to just wake up from nap and the entire house is newly cleaned and he thinks a magic cleaning fairy came in to do it while he slept. Seeing me get stuff done — and helping when appropriate — creates, in my opinion, a more aware, appreciative, and helpful child.
Yes, some days our schedule doesn’t allow “me time” while he naps, and that’s okay. But, I think in a world where “grinding” 24/7 seems to be celebrated yet we’re also all supposed to somehow prioritize “self care” and “mindfulness” simultaneously, saying yes to “me time” when possible while your child sleeps is a simple way to take a break from the mom (or dad) grind, and intentionally care for yourself… which ultimately helps you to better care for those around you. So, if you need permission from a random lady on the internet, here’s yours: make nap time “me time” immediately.. and hey, if you hate having some focused time to yourself, you can always give up the nap time practice whenever you want 😉