Constant demands, endless to do lists, not enough hours in the day. No matter how old your kids or their age ranges, there’s always more to do. No wonder moms are a notoriously tired lot! Rather than hitting the drive-through for an afternoon cup of coffee to get you through, how about recharging with a 20 minute nap?
Impossible, you say? Challenging, maybe, and every day, probably not, but finding twenty minutes in your afternoon to just shut your eyes can have a remarkably rejuvenating effect on the rest of your day.
The power of sleep
Preschools have it right. Afternoon (after lunch) nap time is a great way to recharge the batteries, and turn negative energy into positive energy. The thing is, as adults, we don’t need an hour and a half nap to accomplish this. We need about twenty minutes. Really.
Lack of sleep – lack of rest – is an issue of increasing awareness. Not only are there dozens of books written about the sleep cycles of babies and young children (and how to get them to sleep better), there is increasing research on the sleep needs of adolescents, and the risks of lack of sleep in adults – including dangerous driving and less competent decision making. Finding a time to take a brief nap in the afternoon can help make you a safer parent.
Look for napping opportunities
New mothers are often told to “sleep when the baby sleeps,” and this can hold true right through toddlerhood. when you settle your little one down for a nap, close your eyes, too. Every once in a while, when my daughter was younger, I’d let her nap in my bed, and I’d lay down beside her to snooze a little, too. My naps never lasted as long – I would wake up before she did and still accomplish a few household chores before she was up – but they felt great. I used to think of these naps as a little decadent and rarely admitted the routine to others, but they made such a difference, particularly during really busy times of the year.
If you have older kids, you have other opportunities. Arriving at the school pickup line early, perhaps, is a great way to sneak in a nap – or while waiting for your son or daughter to finish a music lesson in the afternoon (you can forego chatting with the other parents once in a while). I’ve seen many a parent nodding off in a lawn chair at afternoon sports games. If you have older children that can help look after younger children while you nap, all the better.
At home, if a nap is desperately needed, I’ve occasionally turned on PBS for one of my kids to watch while I have dozed next to them. While that situation is less than ideal, I do make sure the environment is otherwise safe, or as safe as can be, and I set an alarm so I don’t sleep too long.
Sometimes, even though needed, a nap can’t happen because the kids’ immediate safety comes first. While I much prefer short naps, and highly recommend them, in those cases, there’s still the drive-through.