Getting the most out of baby’s nap times - should I really sleep when they sleep?
If you’re in the early days of parenthood, you’re probably very familiar with the feeling of finally getting your baby to go to sleep and then wondering how to use your time effectively before they wake again. I sometimes spent so long trying to work out the best use of my time that the nap would be over before I’d even begun a single task. Should I sleep, exercise, clean the house, eat, call a friend, watch TV, do some work? I’d go round in circles until time was up and Harper was awake. I never knew there was a term for this until my friend said she had it too - Analysis Paralysis.
We have probably all heard of the ‘fight or flight’ response which our body goes into when we have a surge of adrenaline. But there is also a third option our body can take which is to ‘freeze’. Think of a time when you’ve been put on the spot and your mind has gone completely blank, that’s the ‘freeze’ response. There might be days where you madly race around the house cleaning up, hanging out the washing and getting all those little jobs done. But other days, you might just stare out the window, unable to decide what to do with this undefined, but probably small window of time.
It can be a pretty frustrating experience, so I found that writing down the things I wanted to achieve each day to be really helpful. Your list might look different to mine, and it might be different from one day to the next. The important point is to make sure there is at least one thing on there that is for you. Whether it’s cooking, reading, exercising, watching your favourite TV show, having a bath or taking a nap, write this down first so that it is your priority for the day.
Next you can start to list the things that need to be done and will give you a sense of achievement for ticking them off. Don’t be too ambitious here, this could include unstacking the dishwasher or folding the washing, answering some emails or doing your online supermarket order.
You will start to get a feel for how long your list can be each day. I started with 3-4 items per day and worked from there. On the days that I felt really tired, I would prioritise a nap. Other days I’d opt for a Pilates class. Regardless of what you choose to do with your time, you will feel so much better for being able to consult your list, think clearly and do something rather than nothing.