Alt. title: What to do when you desperately need a nap but your kids won’t get onboard.
Nothing beats a good nap, in my book. Any excuse will do for an afternoon snooze: rain pelting the windows or sunbeams screaming out for someone to lie in them; nothing to do or way too much to do. Unfortunately for those of us who love, nay need, regular naps there are times when it’s just not practical to repose on the sofa like a pampered goddess.
I’m more fortunate than many nap-needers because I’m at home with children. Suggest to me that being a stay at home parent is one big nap-fest/holiday and I might get a bit ranty. However, there are admittedly some days when the stars align and the whole household manages a simultaneous slumber. Other days I despair as I watch the window for a lie-down slowly closing, one or both of my little lovelies being more interested in socialising than sleeping.
On those days, I need something else to get me through the afternoon.
Here’s a little list of energisers numbered 1 – 6. Join me in getting out a dice and making a game of putting some pep back in your afternoon step. Cross your fingers and hope to roll a six (or keep rolling till you get one), because six is always the best number to roll, right? Don’t let your mummy brain forget to put that choking-hazard dice away afterward.
1. Listen to some upbeat music
Aka ‘party in the living room’.
I often forget how immediately and how thoroughly music can change my mood. Putting on some music that makes me feel good should be my number one course of action when low energy strikes – it’s caffeine-free, sugar-free, low effort, instant result, and can be done practically anywhere.
Luckily my kids aren’t quite old enough to find me embarrassing yet. Or if they do, they don’t know how to say so and I feel free to sing like a rusty door hinge and dance like a fool in blissful ignorance.
2. Phone a friend
This will depend on your personality and reason for needing a nap on any given day. Obviously if napping is a little retreat from busyness so you can recharge for what remains of the day, then calling that friend who wears you out on a good day won’t do you any favours. Choose a solitary pep-up instead.
On the other hand if it’s simple lack of sleep you want to overcome and you can call on a friend who’s full of hilarity and good energy, DO IT! Put them on speaker phone while you build towers/change nappies/etc., or catch up in person and let the kids have some socialisation too.
I’m an introvert who loves the solitude of napping, but on occasions when I see through a social obligation even though I think I’m too tired I always feel better for it.
3. Take 10
A nap provides a nice little break from demands and responsibilities.
I know sometimes us mums go on about the Demands and Responsibilities as though we’re saving the world. Me especially because – honestly – I can be a bit of a martyr. It’s all relative, y’know? I might not actually be saving the world, but toddlers can be relentless little dictators on a bad day.
Set the kids up somewhere safe with a bit of entertainment and spend 10 minutes doing something totally unproductive in peace and quiet.
Yup, for me that means letting them watch tv while I read a blog post or two. It totally gives me the guilts, but the guilty pleasure aspect is part of the magic. Besides, I don’t know about your children, but mine have NEVER complained about 10 minutes of tv time. I don’t think they’re being traumatised by it on an occasional basis, particular if it means I can interact with them on a stress free level for the rest of the day.
4. Do something active
I know, you didn’t really want to roll a four, did you?
Being active is the last thing I feel like doing when bed is beckoning but duty calls. If the kids are ratty, or the dog is lurking around with sad eyes reminding me she hasn’t been out for a trot yet, there are times when a walk is my best option. Mid-afternoon is my least-preferred time of day for exercising, but I’m always pleasantly surprised at how refreshed I feel after a stroll. At the very least it stops me from sitting around, ruminating on how tired I am.
Finish off with a big drink of water and you’ll be golden till tea time, at least.
This is a new thing for me, but I’ve been trying out the meditation apps Headspace and Calm. My baby has 45 minute naps, like clockwork. Often I know I don’t have enough time for a sleep while she’s down, but I do have 10 minutes to try a meditation session.
If you don’t even have the luxury of 10 minutes alone time in your day, you have my sincere sympathy and permission to roll the dice again.
Some days I feel more ‘into it’ than others. Some days I think it might even be more beneficial than a nap, and other days it feels like I haven’t gotten much out of it. It certainly always helps me feel that I’ve had some ‘quiet time’ in my day and helps me unwind if things (i.e naps) aren’t going to plan and I’ve gotten a bit stressed about it.
Bonus benefit: It doesn’t make me feel groggy and in need of a quick sugar fix, like waking up from a nap does.
6. Coffee + Sugar = Mum’s medicine
Look, I know sugar is the enemy and all that. I know there are healthier, more satisfying and more energising snacks I could choose than a chocolate bar and a cup of coffee (hot or once-hot, doesn’t matter). But sometimes a little sweet treat is exactly the pick me up I need when I’m feeling flat as a pancake and still have to get through dinner time, bed time x 2, walking the dog and hanging the laundry before I can clock off for the day.
If I’m totally honest, my sugar and caffeine dependence is something I’d like to work on. But a sweet afternoon tea is not just a stimulant hit, it’s also a little consolation prize for being dead-tired and foregoing a nap in favour of making sure the children are supervised.
Bonus points: Mix and match
I know you’re already one step ahead of me on this one, thinking about combining coffee & cake (no. 6) with catching up on a friend (no. 2). Or doing some walking meditation (no. 5) while being active (no. 4). We’re mums. Even when we’re taking it easy, we’re still looking for ways to multi-task, right?