The baby is finally asleep for a nap and your to-do list is about a mile long.
Your mind starts spinning with what to do first. You check Instagram for just a moment and suddenly an hour has passed and the baby is now awake.
Enter: the nap time conundrum. This unknown nugget of time has always thrown me for a loop and, for the lifetime of my son, I’ve had a difficult time being productive during it.
Why is nap time so hard?
You don’t know how long it’s going to last. Perhaps one of the hardest parts about nap time – for me – has been the obscure nature of the nap. In other words, there’s no way of telling how long your babe is going to be out. It could be 30 minutes or it could be 3 hours. That ambiguity has always send me directly into a spiral, not knowing where to start.
1. Take care of yourself.
Eat, nap, or both. If you’re able to, use baby’s nap time to take care of mama!
When my husband was on paternity leave, I only had one job: feed the baby. That meant one of his jobs was: feed the mama. I’m sure he worried whether I’d feed myself once he went back to work, but I did find a way to manage.
In the newborn days, I would do both meal and nap. Now that Roman is down to two naps a day, I’ll typically eat first and then move to other things if I can.
Often, though, I use the time for other self care like giving myself a manicure or getting myself ready for the day. Taking care of an infant is not an easy job and your body (and your brain) needs time to rest. I try to avoid the TV during nap times, as I don’t want to numb my brain, I just want to rest it.
Craving a more structured day with your 18 month old?
2. Try not to spiral.
I can’t tell you the number of times I literally walked around in circles during nap time trying to figure out what I wanted to do first. (You can ask my husband….he’s watched me do it.) And I still struggle with it sometimes.
The reason is, in those moments, all I can think about is how many things I want to accomplish and cannot get a handle on where to start. My guess is, if you’re a nap time hustler too, you know the pain of this.
So, how do you solve it? Try to get organized and your thoughts in order. Make a list of everything you want to accomplish during nap times and prioritize them. Then focus on them, one by one.
3. Focus on the small tasks.
Something I do these days that seems to work well is taking the last tip to the next level by focusing on small tasks. First, I split that to-do list we made into things I can do only when Roman is asleep vs. things I can do while he’s awake.
Then, I choose items from the asleep pile that take 15 minutes or less. I start going down the list, checking off as many items as possible.
The reason being: I feel far more productive getting a few small tasks done (like cleaning), rather than trying to get into something like a big work project. That way, once I get disrupted (baby’s awake!), I got a few things complete. If I choose a two hour task, there’s no telling if I’m going to get a full two hours to finish it. If I’m interrupted mid-task, it’s incredibly difficult for me to get back in the zone again.
4. Be honest with yourself.
As a stay at home working mom, I have tried and tried to work during nap times. The simple truth? It just doesn’t work for me.
It took a long time for me to get honest with myself about that. By the time I get started and into something, Roman typically either wakes up or my attention is distracted by something else. Instead, I typically work after my son has gone to bed. He’s a great sleeper at night, so after he goes down at 7pm, I know I’ll have (generally) uninterrupted time to work for a few hours before I hit the sheets myself.
There are certain times where I can focus – or Roman has a really solid nap – where I can get work done during a nap time. I take those moments as a great win, but I don’t count on them anymore.
What I will do, however, is take meetings during nap times. Since Roman’s on a schedule, I know I can trust certain times of day will work for naps. If he wakes up early, I just roll with it; and my clients are all very understanding.
So be honest with yourself: what does and doesn’t work for you during nap times? If you’re pushing to do a certain task and it just isn’t working, do it during another time – maybe when baby is awake, your partner or someone else is home to help, or after bedtime.
How do you handle nap time? Tell us about your tips and tricks below!