I sometimes call myself the ‘Nap Nazi’. Getting my kids down for a mid-day sleep at the same time is sort of my priority and I confess, I don’t like it when it doesn’t happen. My girls are 3 1/2 and 12 months, and since the little one was born, I’ve been pretty diligent at getting them to nap at the same time. Now, I am fully into gentle parenting, I would never do ‘Cry It Out‘ (or chuck ’em in the crib as some would say). We cosleep, babywear, do EC (elimination communication), tandem breastfeed (you see where I’m going with this). But I have to say, I am pretty stubborn when it comes to making sure that everyone gets some rest or ‘time out‘ and at the same time. Since it’s just me at home with them all day (everyday) without the help of a village or extended family (curse you industrial revolution), I feel like it’s all the more reason that I consciously make an effort to get my kids to sleep at the same time so that I can rest too! I think most mothers would agree that it’s really nice to have that time of peace… although, I know that many times the ‘peacefulness’ doesn’t always happen for various reasons…
Getting them to sleep at the same time, for me, is actually not too tricky 95% of the time. I just take the cues from the little one. When she shows signs of getting sleepy, that’s when we all go into the bedroom for our siesta. It doesn’t always happen perfectly, and sometimes everyone ends up in tears. I don’t know how it happens, but *usually* they sleep for a least an hour, two (or a heavenly 3) at the same time. Once they’re out, I do a few things, but I rarely leave the room. I stay in there and rest with them. I don’t run around the house getting stuff done. I usually don’t get on the computer, although, sometimes I’ll get on my phone. They also really like it that I’m in there with them. The times when I haven’t been there and they happen to wake up, they look startled and disoriented (even the 3 1/2 year old).
First Priority Once They are Asleep: Recharging Vital Energy
My very first priority once they are asleep is to make sure that I get my energy levels restored and up to par for when they wake up. If my husband is home early in the morning, sometimes he watches the kids while I do my daily yoga, breathing, meditation practice that I learned from the Art of Living Foundation, some (ehem, 11 years ago). But, if I didn’t get a chance to do that first thing, then I slog through the morning and the second they’re out, then I sit down on my yoga mat. Like, the second the little bless-ed eyes are closed, I hop down on the floor and get started, without delay. Although, without a warm body laying next to her, the little one usually stirs and partially wakes up after her first sleep cycle.. usually juuust in the middle of a deep meditation. But, because I’m in the room with her, I catch it early and I hop up, stick the boob in her mouth, then she falls back asleep and I can finish meditating or whatever. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, recharges my system like a little yoga, and meditation… Coffee, tea, chocolate, TV, staring into space.. nope, there’s just no comparison. I would be so grumpy and irritable if I didn’t do this stuff every day! Even with it, I can still loose my mind somedays,,, I just don’t go quite as crazy.
Follow the Golden Rule
The Golden Rule: SLEEP WHEN THEY SLEEP! I always tell this to new mothers… do they listen to me?! Hardly ever! Actually, I think I was a bit like that when my first was young. I would try to cook, clean, organize, etc. when she was asleep. Of course, she would always wake up after 20 minutes and boy would I get ticked off! I quickly realized that nap time meant nap time for me too. So, again, if the first priority was taken care of, the yoga and meditation bit, then the second rule was to crash out when she was asleep. Having a day sleep for adults is nothing new. Most cultures around the world, before they were disturbed by the western world, had some sort of rest time during the day, and often these people would not sleep through the night. The 8 hours of sleep at night is sort of a new concept that came along with the 8 hour work day. Parents get so uptight about a baby waking up at night… if only they knew that it is completely normal (just remember to get a bit of rest sometimes during the day too). I now, it’s hard if you’re working… you can’t just tell your boss… ‘Hey, is it cool if I just take a powernap in the middle of my shift? It’s very natural for my baby to wake up at night, so I need to get some day rest too‘… yeah… that wouldn’t go over too well. But, anyway…
All of my cooking, cleaning, organizing, etc. can be done with them, while they’re awake. My kids bump along with me all day long. We do laundry, we do dishes (ok, at the moment, it’s been hard to do the dishes because the little one wants up/down, up/down and we don’t have a dishwasher). We put away toys, we take out the garbage, we sweep, vacuum, cook.. all that stuff they do with me. I have to mention that babywearing is the real savior here. Without babywearing it would be nearly impossible to get all this stuff done around the house and then it would seem that they would have to sleep while I get stuff done… But, with baby wearing, they can just cruise along with me. Babies LOVE watching chores around the house. Sometimes the stationary chores, like dishes, they’re not so crazy about. But, any chores which involve moving around the house, they love!
Quiet Actives for Decompression
Sometimes I’ve done my meditation stuff, and/or slept, and they are still asleep. That gives me some quiet time to do ‘stuff’. Like, normal adult stuff. I really relish the quietness. I still don’t leave the room (ok, maybe to pee and hang out the wash real quick on the balcony). I occasionally read a book, maybe do some craft thing, like the other day I finished making the fringe on my ring sling. I might fold some laundry (very unlikely, that last one). I probably get on facebook a bit too much during this time, and that brings my energy down a bit.. but.. well, we’ve all got to live on the edge right? If I were an awesome knitter or crocheter, this would be the ultimate best… actually, maybe I should get more into it? I sometimes prepare an activity for my older one, who is almost 3 1/2. Although, I did this more when she was younger and the baby was still little. Back then, I had to be a bit more organized and set the older one up with something to do so that she didn’t jump all over me while I was trying to feed the baby. Now that she’s older, and the new baby sister stuff is all settled, she just helps herself to anything she wants.
The Odd Day
I do have the occasional odd day where either I don’t get them to nap at the same time, or I don’t end up resting with them. I can honestly say that on these days I can get super tired and super grumpy. Although, it is sort of nice to get to spend one on one time with the one who is awake. Those moments are special too! But, usually, sometimes around 2 in the afternoon, I start feeling like a zombie and can hardly see straight. My energy comes back sometimes in the late afternoon, or early evening, but by then, it’s been a long day! Of course, some days, I might need to actually get something done, like an important phone call, or do some paperwork or something… But, that’s the very odd day, and as a rule, I like to keep our sleep time as ‘Rest for All‘.
What Do You Do?
So, what do you do when your kids are asleep? Do you run around the house like a raving lunatic trying to get stuff done before they wake up? Do you rest with them? Or, do you sit and stare a wall? Or, do your kids never nap at the same time or not nap at all and wonder what I’ve got up my sleeve to make them sleep together 😉