Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Nap Conundrum

I came across a rough draft of a post tonight that I think I never shared. My life has changed since I wrote the post in that my at-home child is in the process of GIVING UP her naps. That's an article in and of itself, but it's not the one I'm sharing today.

Today this is dedicated to caretakers of young persons or former caretakers of young persons who have ever stayed home with said young person. And even caretakers who only stay home with their young person sometimes. I am sure you at some point received the piece of assvice, I mean, advice, that you should complete this or that task while your young persons are napping.

This is, of course, compounded if you have more than one young person, since small children are incapable of napping simultaneously. I think it's one of Einstein's lesser known laws. Either way, let's list all the things you've probably heard you should complete while the young persons are napping:

1) If you are so ambitious as to have a second career and conduct any business while in the home, it has probably been advised that you do this work while the child is napping. Since you would like to keep this second career afloat, this seems wise.

2) If you are responsible for household tasks that involve chemicals, hot stoves, high places, scissors or other aspects that are not child-friendly, it has probably been advised you tackle these while the child is napping. Since you would like your home to not be condemned and you would like food on the table (aside from the oatmeal crusted in the cracks), this seems wise.

3) If you have important telephone calls to make and you would like to do them with nobody screaming in the background, it has probably been advised that you wait to dial until the child is napping. Since you would like to be able to hear the customer service rep putting you on hold, this seems wise.

4) If exhaustion or illness affects you during the day and you would like to reduce your degree of physical discomfort, it has probably been advised that you nap while the child is napping, particularly when said child is an infant and you are running on two hours of sleep. Since you can't take care of anyone if you're a puking zombie with a migraine, this seems wise.

5) If you want to add exercise to your regimen of exhaustion and illness and you find that wakeful small ones are not conducive to a work-out, it has probably been advised that you aerobicize while the child is napping. Since you don't want to have a dangerous toddler/treadmill/tae-bo accident, this seems wise.

6) If there are any aspects of your personal hygiene that might distract you from monitoring your inquisitive small person, it has probably been advised that you shower/shave/etc. while the child is napping. Since you would like to do SOME things in private and in safety, this seems wise.

7) If you have, for some insane reason, volunteered for something you can do in the home but the presence of small children hinders your ability to fulfill this promise, it has probably been advised that you keep your promise while the child is napping. Since you don't want to be a total shirker and get a bad reputation, this seems wise.

8) At the bottom of the list, if you have any hobbies that are complicated by wakeful small persons (beading, woodworking, meditation, internet trolling, I don't know--it's your hobby), it has probably been advised that you indulge while the child is napping. Since you would like to have some personal pleasure in your life, this seems wise.

9) In that vein, if you partake of media (TV, movies, music, broadcast news, porn) that is inappropriate for small persons but you'd like to stay up to date what's going on in your chosen entertainment venue, it has probably been advised that you partake while the child is napping. Since you don't want to warp your young persons too soon but you're unwilling to give up your demon hunting brothers, this seems wise.

Note: All these recommendations have to take into consideration the fact that if your task is crucial or otherwise time-delimited, the child will be much more prone to wake up in the middle of it, so whatever it is, you'd better be able to put it down without ruining everything.

These same recommendations apply to any minutes you squeeze out of your day before the kids get up and after they go to bed, with added conflicts like spending quality time with a spouse or older child so they don't feel neglected and you don't forget what they look like.

I agree it's wise to do these things while the child is napping. It's safer, easier, smarter and more efficient. However, the child only naps so much, and yet there's so much you need to accomplish. How do you choose? Me, I pretty much always choose "career"--I'm an author, and trying to cram writing, marketing, promotion and paperwork into 5 naps a week, when I'm lucky, is a struggle, but it's the only way I can come close to making it work. Hobbies and housecleaning all have to take a back seat right now--if they can find room in the back seat the exercise equipment and personal hygiene! I have hopes the tide will turn once both children are in school, so if you have all your kids in school and you know better, please don't burst my bubble.

Which brings us to:

10) If you have been working on a solution to the whole 24 hours a day thing and you're nearing a breakthrough, it has probably been advised you experiment with your tricky mathematical theorum about the space-time continuum while the child is napping. Since you would like to have enough time in the day to do everything you need to do during the precious minutes your child is safely asleep, this seems wise.

Jody W.
So much cyberspace, so little time! /


  1. Thanks for the smile this morning! I'm past the days of my kids napping with all in school (one in college, one in high school and one in elementary school..yikes!) But I can remember those days - yup - it's hard work and not that much ever seemed to get done.

  2. Alas, my napping problems have evolved to the point where my own napping interferes with all the tasks you mention. Or could if I'm not wise to it. Sigh. Old age is such a bummer.

  3. It does get better once they're in school. But even now my household tasks don't seem to get completed in a timely manner. Hmm, perhaps it wasn't the kids' lack of napping after all.....

    Hang in there, Jody : )

  4. I remember those days. I broke down in tears when my oldest (then 26 months) stopped napping the month before her baby brother was born. Then, like clockwork, he stopped napping at age 2 also. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. It's called preschool. Just be sure not to waste those precious hours playing spider solitaire.

    My rugrats are now in 2nd and 4th grade and I still don't get everything done. Of course, I'm missing the cleaning gene so I have a medical excuse for why the house is always a mess. *G*