We’ve all been there. You finally get all the kids to sleep for a nap. You plop down on the couch and start scrolling on your phone. I scroll and scroll and scroll…doing NOTHING. Then I hear Max whimpering and waking up. I think “NO WAY. How could he have just taken a 5 minute nap?!??!” I look at the clock and realize 2 HOURS have gone by. My time was wasted and I don’t feel rested. Walking upstairs to get my kid out of bed, I feel grumpy and unresolved because I didn’t complete anything I was hoping to during his nap time.
This used to be a daily occurrence for me (let’s be real…some days it still is. Haha!). When Max was really young, he got into habitual 30 minute naps for months. I really struggled with being productive. I would lay him in his crib upstairs and then get caught up in my phone or a TV show. My alone time was eaten up in a snap. After many weeks of trying to keep up with housework and missing hobbies, I sought out other mom’s experiences and advice. These great nap time productivity tips have really encouraged me. They will help you treasure your nap time so you can enjoy your kid’s awake time even more!
1. Figure out your priorities
What is most important to you? What are some of your needs? (sleep, eat, chores, important phone calls…) What are some of your desires? (hobbies, working out, watching fun movies/TV shows…) Make a list of what is important to you and able to be worked into your day. You WON’T be able to get to everything in a day, so really try to narrow down this list. This tip may take a few weeks to iron out.
Maybe baking is a hobby of yours but your kids take really short naps…that may be an activity you find out needs to be enjoyed after bedtime. Or maybe you like to exercise during nap time, but also want to get in a SHOWER at some point in the day…haha I dream about nice things… Experiment with what works best for you and leaves you feeling rested and ready for the rest of the day.
2. Don’t over schedule nap time
I wanted to do EVERYTHING during naps, but quickly realized all the things I wanted to accomplish during nap time were leaving me drained and crabby when I didn’t finish them due to kids waking up. When I narrowed it down to one or two enjoyable or necessary activities, I felt much more refreshed and rested throughout the day. Now, when I can, I save reading, working on my blog, and sleeping (and let’s be real…showering usually ends up in there too…) for nap times. Those are activities I really enjoy, they leave me fairly rested, and I don’t get discouraged dropping them when Max wakes up from a nap.
I use to jam pack my time during naps with cleaning, working out, trying to shower, starting supper, doing house projects…the never-ending lists. While some of those things really do need to be done during nap time some days, I found that I am such a more joyful mom and wife when I try to protect my time during naps to rest and enjoy activities I love.
3. Get materials ready for your rest time while the kids are still awake
It is so tempting to grab our phones as soon as our kids fall asleep for a bit. And while that is not bad in and of itself, screen time eats away at our precious restful/productive time. A great way to get moving on whatever it is you choose to spend your time immediately is to have all your materials ready before the kids are laid down to rest. By doing this, you maximize your work/rest time and minimize distractions.
Got a refurbishing or house project you want to work on? Get all your tools together and ready before you start your nap time routine! Want to work out during nap time? Change into your workout clothes, get your weights and mat all set up before putting the kids down. I love to write and blog during Max’s naps, so I try to have all my brainstorming done and written down in scribbles somewhere before his naps. That way I am not staring at a blank screen clueless or getting immersed in social media.
4. Complete one 10 minute chore/task before your chosen activity during nap time
While I love a clean house, cleaning is ALWAYS a task I’ll put at the bottom of my lists. I don’t love it, it takes time, and it just gets messy again…because kids… I do not like spending nap times cleaning. Maybe you are different and you love cleaning…in that case we should be better friends so I can learn your ways. But for me, it’s a struggle. So I made it a goal to just pick up toys and Max’s crazy messes for 10 minutes after he laid down to sleep. Some days, it has to be laundry for 10 minutes, other days it might be deep cleaning the bathroom for 10 minutes.
Working on one chore or house task for a measly 10 minutes will help you rest better and focus more clearly on the activities you have chosen for the duration of your nap time. Obviously some days, your time during naps will need to consist of 7 loads of laundry or mowing on the only sunny day. But most days, if you can just pick one quick chore or task to finish in 10 minutes (set a timer for yourself!) your burden will be lighter going into your enjoyable activities.
5. Limit Social Media/TV during nap time
Hey. I get it. Sometimes turning your brain off and watching a movie is the best feeling ever. Watching a show or scrolling Facebook can be very relaxing and enjoyable. I also get that this is usually the only time we can read up on our favorite feeds without being interrupted. The problem lies with how quickly it eats up our alone time.
When Max was first born, I discovered Downton Abbey… I was a new mom healing up from giving birth, Max was just a tiny baby sleeping, pooping and eating. Our days FLEW by. It didn’t feel like it in the moment, but binge watching that super long show ate up so much time. James would come home from work and I honestly felt like he had just left! It took me a while to get those Netflix claws out of my skin, but once I started reading books more during our days, I felt so much more rested and cheerful. Our days felt longer, but way more enjoyable.
Try putting a timer on your phone for sitting on social media for 5 minutes. When it’s done, move on to your other nap time enjoyment.
6. Don’t whine or grumble when nap time is over. Greet your children with JOY after a nap!!
When Max was taking his half hour naps, I fell into traps of resentment or grumbling. I would complain to anyone who would listen about how I couldn’t get anything done all day because Max took such short naps. My dad said something early on in my frustrations that resonated with me. “Enjoy the times your kid is awake, because they are awake!” Even if it’s 2am and your baby is awake for 4 hours, or your toddler wakes up early to the noisy garbage truck driving by. Rather than stressing over how to get them back to sleep or living for the next nap time, relish the time you have with them while they are awake.
I made a conscious decision to be joyful at every wake up. Even if I was upset on the inside, even if that nap was super short, even if I got nothing done during that nap, I would be joyful. Regardless of my feelings, I would work hard to be SO excited when I saw my son’s face after he woke up. That was a GAME CHANGER for me. I couldn’t believe how quickly my heart followed my head. My feelings changed from eye rolls when I heard Max wake up from a short nap, to racing up the stairs because I missed him! Choose joy in the awake times. This will help you treasure time with your child and by yourself!
What helps you be productive at nap time? How do you rest while your kids sleep? Share with me!