The coveted nap time! Moms, dads, caregivers, you know what I mean! Nap time is golden!

I LOVE my children, but nap time is MY time. My time to recuperate from the morning, and get myself ready for the afternoon and evening. It is when I get to eat. When I get some work done, house or otherwise. When I get to watch a television show that isn’t a cartoon I have seen at least ten times. It is the time when I sometimes just rest, and don’t try to conquer the world. And the time I get to remember who I am, and take part in my hobbies.

However, we live in a nap time struggle in our house. And, oh man, the struggle is real!

We have an infant, now 11 weeks old. First, he naps regularly, but second, only if I’m right next to him or holding him. Seriously! We could get into a debate on how I’m doing things right or wrong with him, but that’s not necessary. And for all of you who say to just let them cry it out, you have not heard how loud baby B’s cry is! (Can I just say his cry doesn’t just wake up our house, but I’m sure our entire neighborhood, it’s so loud!)

Our 5 year old (well, 5 in less than two weeks) gave up napping well over a year ago. More like a year and a half. Way too soon! And his attitude from exhaustion often shows it. We send him to quiet time to play educational games on his iPad, or to read to himself. Problem? Aside from screen time, that is. Well, he’s decided lately he only needs about 10 minutes of quiet time, then wants to come and watch TV or play with me (or his dad when he’s not at work). This simply doesn’t work for either of us. I remind him I need my quiet time too! And he definitely needs quiet time to have his own decompression. If only this reminder worked . . .

Our two boys, and their nap time/quiet time routines, and changes there in, don’t hold a candle to our daughter though! She’s two and a half, going through the “terrible twos” and regressing from baby B’s presence, all at the same time! She really needs her nap! On good days she takes a three hour nap, which is really the amount she needs. But good days seem to be few and far between. Lately she won’t sleep in her toddler bed at nap time. I will put her down 10,000 times it seems. She much prefers nap time in the pack and play. Really! She thinks it is the best thing! I believe this is part of her regression, as a crib and pack and play are for babies; not toddlers who are scrunched up inside them.

If the stars align and our daughter, A, goes down for a true nap, without struggle, I’m still not in the clear. These are the days I can’t put baby B down, and the days big brother J will decide to run around, yell, and bang toys around until A wakes up.

In retrospect, nap time is not the time to get things done or live out my wildest dreams of self care. It so rarely works in our favor, and is so short lived. So Moms, Dads, caregivers, whoever you are – get out a pen and piece of paper and create a plan! Get those chores done by this plan, not by nap time. Otherwise it won’t happen.

And Moms and Dads (and caregivers), this is why making separate time for self care is so important! Do not be like me and rely on nap time as your ONLY self care time. It simply won’t work! If you do, your sewing project will be sitting on the end of the dining table untouched for a month (me). Not to mention the luggage from your family trip sitting in your living room four days after getting home (also me).

Schedule self care away from nap time! A night out with friends. An hour by yourself in the bathtub. A walk without the whole family. Something. Anything! At least once a week. And allow your partner, if you have one, the same. And, I’d love to add to this list! A night out with that partner to keep your relationship alive is a must! At least once a month, if not more. Once again, do as I say, not as I do (hubby I still love you so much and we will find time someday I promise)!

And when the elusive, amazing nap time, when all the beautiful stars (those amazing children you have) decide to work in unison, you can call it bonus time! Yes! Bonus time! That extra time you never thought you would have, to do whatever you want. You could even take a nap yourself!

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