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The Self-Negotiation of Naptime


The Ups, Downs and Sideways of Working Motherhood

The Self-Negotiation of Naptime

Alex Steinman

Anyone who tells you to sleep when the baby sleeps must have a magical fairy that comes and works, cleans, cooks, launders, and slips you an Ambien while the children are napping. When you have multiple kids, both of them sleeping at the same time is nearly impossible. I envision the toddler and the infant bargaining sleep schedules, so they can get individual time with their parents. This was a sweet thought until I realized it's more likely they're doing it because they think it's funny to watch me age faster than President Obama in the Oval Office.

Anyways, one day it happened. It was approaching 1:30pm, and I had pulled out all my best moves that morning. I mean, I entertained the shit out of these kids. We did Target, stickers, soccer in the house, soccer out of the house, finger puppets, baby paper crinkling, a dance party, and a little Sesame Street (so I could pee).

By the time we got to lunch, #gingerbaby was on the verge of sleep. After a few nibbles of chicken nuggets, he asked (yes, ASKED) to take a nap. I had to act fast. If we missed our 3.5 minute window of opportunity, we were screwed. A missed naptime results in an overtired meltdown, which is only resolved with a fitful bedtime seven hours later. God help me. In an effort to avoid the apocalypse, I gobbled up #gingerbaby's cold chicken nuggets (Mama's gotta eat too), tossed him into bed and slowly backed out of the room.

Meanwhile #queenz was eyeing my boobs. It wasn't more than five minutes into nursing before she fell into a deep enough sleep that I could put her down. "What are these things shooting out of my shoulders? Are those my...arms?!" I thought. I almost didn't recognize them empty and void of tiny humans and/or tiny human things.

I sat on the couch afraid to move for fear of waking anyone. I ran through the mental list of things I "should" get done while I had the spare time:

  1. Relax: I should be more productive.
  2. Clean: Maybe I should relax.
  3. Write: Inevitable writer's block.
  4. Laundry: I'll never finish it in time and will end up with yet another load in the washer for a week.
  5. Read: Which of these 10 books should I restart?
  6. Christmas cards: Hahahahahahahahahaha.
  7. Meal prep: You've got to be shitting me.

By the time I finished my list, it had been 45 minutes, and the oldest was starting to stir. I quickly scrolled through Instagram and Facebook for 15 minutes before I heard the pitter patter of my tiny tornado, followed by, "Mama, I'm all done with my nap!" At first, I was disappointed about how I spent my alone time. Then I was just thankful I spent my alone time somewhere other than a toilet.

The only other times I've been graced with two sleeping kids is in the car. After a busy morning, both kids knock-out pretty easily in the mom-mobile. Sometimes I intentionally take bumpy roads to rock the little nuggets to sleep. However, there is nothing worst than a kid falling asleep right before you pull into the driveway. There's no coming back from a five minute nap. Sometimes the best thing to do is to keep driving. Find a drive thru coffee shop, a good podcast, and just cruise until you run out of gas or coffee.

Last weekend, after a particular trying car ride, both kids fell asleep right before we got to the zoo. I drove around neighborhoods for 30 minutes before parking in the zoo lot and sitting silently for another 30 minutes. After contemplating designing our Christmas card on my phone, I decided to stare blankly into space. Maybe it was meditation, or maybe I can only think all the things or nothing at all. I have two speeds in life, and I had reached the dead zone.

The silence was over before I knew it, and it was back to go-mode. Stroller, snacks, wallet, coats, and don't forget the kids in the car. Naptime forces you to choose one of two things:

  1. Feel awesome for getting shit done, yet guilty for not indulging in self care. 
  2. Feel awesome for indulging in self care, yet guilty for not getting shit done.

Today my sick toddler took a nap in my arms, something so rare, I almost didn't recognize he was trying to sleep on me. It took a couple failed attempts to reach my phone, computer, and the remote to realize that I needed a zero-speed moment. I watched my sweaty heat box of a child breathe in and out with ease because that's what kids are good at. Breathing and self care. I should get better at those things too.


P.S. If you liked this post, read Superhuman or Working Mom Stays Home.

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