Attention Moms, Dads, Babysitters, Nannies and In-Home Childcare Providers Everywhere! As if you can’t think of enough things to do while your baby (or your charge) is sleeping, here are some super-useful ideas. Pick and choose, do one each day, or add to my list to suit your needs. Whether this is your first baby or your fifth, parents (and caretakers) need and deserve to use their time wisely. From this real-life mom of six, trust me when I tell you time management is important. Read about 5 great ways to spend your baby’s naptime:
1. Work – Here is a true statement, whether you are a working parent, single parent, stay-or-work-from home parent: there is always work to be done. Whether it’s checking emails, paying the bills, cleaning something, studying for that college class (yes, naptime is quiet enough to read) or actually working from home, you can usually count on an hour or two (unless you’re my sixth kid, who never took more than a 40 minute snooze, ugh!). That’s a decent block of time to get some work accomplished without interruption, or even make a phone call.
2. Relax – Believe it or not, you could choose this option. Kids are stressful, not to mention life, work, bills, relationships, society as a whole. Take this little block of time to de-stress. Do your nails. Read a book. Sit on the porch or do a little gardening, whatever you never get a chance to do when your baby is awake. Imagine the possibilities, then come back to reality and pick something within reason.
3. Exercise – While some parents choose to work out with baby-in-tow, some might choose to use their baby’s naptime for a serious workout. True, you can’t go to the gym or really leave the house unless you have a trusted sitter during this time, but there are many possibilities. Afraid to wake the baby with work-out noise? Use a headset, earbuds or choose yoga or more quiet stretching exercises. If your baby will sleep through it and the weather is nice, grab the stroller and bring him or her along, or park them in the shade in the backyard while you mow the lawn. It is exercise and you know it needs to be done.
4. Interview Candidates for Sitter – Just landed that new job or heading back to work after family leave? Use your baby’s naptime to concentrate on selecting qualified candidates who can work the hours you need and provide as many benefits to your family as possible for the price. If you don’t have a family member watching baby for you when you return to work, I suggest using a reputable agency or trusted referral site like care.com. Agencies provide more structure and support than hiring privately, as well as do much of the legwork and checking background and experience for you so you can concentrate on choosing the right person to match your family and lifestyle. Once you narrow down to a final few candidates, you could include your well-rested baby to Skype or Facetime and see how your candidates interact with baby.
5. Sleep – Consider it anyway. My 14-year old daughter (child 3 of 6) recently asked me if, since my youngest went to kindergarten this year and my days are freed up a bit (she thinks), if I ever take a nap. I laughed out loud, no really, like belly-laughed. While it does sound like a good idea, and might be for new moms, I am one of those people who is more useless after a nap than before. In fact, if I am able to get to sleep during the day, I must be sick. I lie there thinking of all the things I should be doing and can’t relax at all. But maybe you’re like my husband, who can fall asleep almost on command, any time of day, and will wake 30 minutes later refreshed and ready to go. Go for it. I like the idea of it, so am suggesting it to you in good faith.
Obviously you can’t do each of these every day, so I suggest choosing one each day. Start with work early in the week and save sleep for your Friday bonus. If your baby sleeps a solid two hours, you might squeeze in a 20-30 minute workout, a shower, plus an hour of something else. Good luck! My kids only napped until sometime during their fourth year. Some will give it up sooner and others will give you a little extra time. However long you get, make the most of baby’s naptime. That way, you can focus on your special little one while he or she is awake and ready to watch you and learn all about our awesome world.