Q&A: Naps

From Tiffany:
I want to know how and if you ever manage naps during the daytime for yourself.

Something you never realize before becoming a mom is just how much of your life with little children revolves around sleep: having it interrupted, trying to get it, and often, surviving without it.

I'm a huge believer in the restorative power of naps. An experienced mom told me once that an hour in the afternoon is worth two at night and I think that's true.

As to whether I manage to actually get those naps, it depends on which year you're asking about! The year my twins were born, and I had five kids ages 5 and under, it was an enormous challenge. I was waking sometimes thrice a night to care for those girls -- who like all my others didn't sleep through the night until they were about ten months old -- and with five kids home in the afternoon (Lillian had morning kindergarten), it was nearly impossible to get naps during the week. Late afternoons and evenings were the hardest, as I often felt like a zombie. I really had to pray a lot that year for patience and strength and the ability to function even though I was so tired. I think if all my prayers that year were played back, half of them would be some variation of, "Father, I'm tired. Please help." By the time the weekend rolled around, I was running on empty. Then a wonderful thing would happen. On Sunday afternoon, while my husband took care of the kids, I'd collapse on my bed and sleep for several hours. By the time I woke up, I felt renewed and ready to face another week.

Naps lately have been easier. While I'm mostly sleeping through the night right now, my body is working hard nourishing this baby, and I really need that afternoon nap. My kids are at a great stage right now, and the three little girls who are awake in the afternoon are getting along great. They know that afternoons are quiet time for a few hours. Quiet time is something I've tried to have for years, so it's part of the routine. While Harmony naps, I'll either put on a video (Yep -- TV is used as a babysitter, but because my kids get so little of it, it's a pretty effective one!) or get the girls started on playing something. Then I'll lie down in the next room and try to rest. Sometimes I don't sleep, but use the time to read or work on a project.

Some days are better than others and I of course have those days where nothing happens as it should and I don't get a nap when I really need one, as well as those times when the kids are fighting or needy and not able to let me sleep. Last week, I got an extra long nap on a day I really needed it. The girls were playing quietly for a long time and when I woke up, I thought, "Wow, these girls are so great." Then I walked into the kitchen. They had gotten the watercolor paints out of the family office (where they are kept up high), and their creations were everywhere, along with drips of paint-colored water, on the table, on the floor, on the counter. Not only that, but somehow, they had found the playdough bin I keep up on the very top shelf of the pantry. Half-dried, abandoned Playdough was all over the table, the chairs, and the floor. But luckily, having that wonderful nap helped me keep my sense of humor and the four of us tackled the mess and got it cleaned up.

It's nice to have that quiet few hours in the afternoon because as soon as all the kids come home from school, it's time to kick it into high gear, as I manage tons of simultaneous demands: one child needing this signed, another needing spelling words printed out, another wanting help with math, a third needing encouragement on his chores, and dinner needing to be started. When I've gotten a nap and feel rested, it's a fun and enjoyable time of day. When I'm over-tired, it's stressful and I feel on edge.

How have you managed to get enough rest? How does your body handle interrupted sleep?

As a sidenote, I once read a blog post by a mom of three, with a newborn, who said that as long as she's not up for very long at night, she can wake up several times at night without feeling tired in the morning. Do you think she was delusional or is such a thing actually possible? I wake up for five minutes to go to the bathroom (baby pressing on my bladder!), and feel exhausted the next day.


John said…
I always take a nap when I am pregnant. The kids watch a movie or read a book. I have always done this and they just know. Plus, they like it when they get a little TV time during the day.

From my very first baby I have always felt that if I do not take care of myself physically I cannot be a good mom. I am a better quality mom if my house and my kids are neglected an hour a day for a nap/shower/exercise.
alligood said…
I am not a napper. I hate the way I feel after I wake up from sleeping in the afternoon - groggy, disoriented, and grumpy. Late pregnancy is the only time when I nap regularly. I do take the occasional Sunday afternoon snooze, but never have been a good napper!
Since I get up so early to tend to teh kids before I go to work I love my naps when I can get them. Now with a new little one waking up at night Saturdays and Sundays are my nap havens. I can usually beg Dad to hold down the fort and get in a nap on the weekends. I always wake up with two or three little ones in the bed with me though!
Stacey said…
Yup, I think she's delusional! LOL I need sleep. I have never done the cosleeping thing because I don't sleep well with my children. They wiggle too much. Right now, I am praying the day soon comes when my infant is sleeping all night on a regular basis!
Unknown said…
When I was pregnant with Eli I usually took 2 naps during the day, usually on the couch while the kids played or watched a video. I've also awoken to some pretty crazy disaster zones-- I'm glad you were able to keep your sense of humor. I do think the other mom is delusional about the sleep, but then again, if she can use the delusion to fool herself into feeling untired (or at least dealing better with it), it might be helpful.

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