Is there anything more glorious than nap time?
From birth to five-ish-years-old there is an hour a day, maybe longer if you’re lucky, set aside for your child to rest.
It is bliss.
The anticipation builds throughout the morning. You watch for that first eye rub or nod of the head.
And then, after a morning of playing, running, creating and eating, you put them down and take your first deep breath of the day.
Nap time gives you the ability to reclaim precious time just for you; moments you savor like a chocolate lava cake with the warm gooey center and cool vanilla ice cream coming together to make the perfect bite. Yes, nap time can be that delicious.
Watching my child sleep was one of the unexpected gifts of parenthood I cherished the most and nap time became one of my favorite parts of the day.
However, for all it’s beautiful glory, there is also a dark underbelly of nap time. It begins innocently, you pause to enjoy the quiet peacefulness. But as you start to look around and it hits you. This is not time to rest, there are things to do. It can start with putting one toy back in the basket, which leads to another. Within moments you’re scurrying around, picking up, washing dishes and doing laundry. You realize nap time is the perfect time to tackle all the things on your to-do list that are impossible with a kid on your hip and another at your feet.
Rest, relaxation and self-care become a distant oasis, reachable only after everything is done.
And so, it begins, you spend your morning planning what you will be able to get done from the moment your child’s head hits the mattress. It may start slowly at first but quickly becomes a mad dash to see how much you can fit it. Without the drag of your child in tow, you can move faster, fueling you to push to do even more. The more you get done, the more accomplished you feel. Even though it can leave you feeling tired, your satisfaction for crossing things off your to-do list outshines any fatigue you’re feeling. You’re busy, but it’s ok, because you have something to show for it.
This is the origin point.
I blame nap time.
Once you feel the rush of productivity and accomplishment, it’s hard to turn away. It’s easier to keep feeding the busy beast. If I got three things done yesterday, doing four things today must be better.
Being busy becomes a badge of honor, as if the quantity validates the significance.
The slippery slope begins. With our never-ending to-do list, we schedule our days to see how many things we can cross off. We see a friend who asks, “How are you?” and our instant response in “So busy”. They look at us knowingly, validating and affirming our plight.
I blame nap time because allowing myself to rest would have been a luxury.
The thought of doing “nothing” while my baby slept filled me with guilt because there was always something that “should” be done.
It felt irresponsible.
It defied the stereotype that good moms are busy moms.
Was that it? Did I subconsciously start believing this story that to be a good mom meant I had to be busy all the time? I know I felt like I had a lot to do and when I talked to other moms, they sounded like they had a lot to do too, but who is putting this pressure on us to get all this “stuff” done? Yes, my kids need clean clothes and food to eat, but is it possible I’ve put the anxiety of being busy on myself? Who said the beds must be made every day or that your child’s outfit must be perfectly coordinated? These realizations lifted a weight off my shoulders I didn’t even know I was carrying. The answers seemed obvious but when I was in the blur of busy, it was hard to focus on what was right in front of me. I began questioning and evaluating everything on my to-do list.
I’ve created a question map to help you navigate a way out of your own busy spiral:
Does this task relate to the cleanliness or feeding of my family?
Yes, my family needs to eat!
Yes, this place is a mess
No, but this stuff must get done!
Trust me, I get it, some days are busier than others and there is nothing you can do about it. But you owe it to yourself to make sure you are not the source of your stressful schedule. Don’t fall into the nap time trap, instead at any age we can let it remind to us take a deep breath, relax, rest and rejuvenate yourself for the second half of your day.
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Photo by Blake Meyer on Unsplash
I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.