You need a nap – but you’re a parent! We’ve got you. While catching some mid-day Zs may be more challenging once you have kids (okay, that’s an understatement), it’s not impossible. You just have to be stealthy about it. Here are some sneaky ways to sneak in that nap you’re so desperate for.
The Errand Nap
After a too-long stretch of being caged up with toddlers flinging rocket-shaped pasta across the kitchen table, going out solo for a routine appointment can feel like a vacation. Use those moments to unplug and take a nap. Snooze in the dentist’s chair while getting a cleaning. Close your eyes as a stylist washes your hair. Be like my friend Dorothy and doze off while getting an oil change. If you’re lucky enough to have a work commute that doesn’t involve driving, sleep, for goodness sake. It’s multitasking at its finest.
The Soccer Game Nap
Does your kid have a long morning of soccer games? If it’s not the World Cup, take a nap like the brilliant mum hailed in this Facebook post by author Glennon Doyle. “Whilst the other parents stood loudly and earnestly and concernedly on the sidelines: this mother laid her body down on the ground, her head on her purse, and her blanket over her face — and napped,” Doyle wrote. “Her entire existence said: I am showing up for my kid. But I’m not gonna pretend I’m not exhausted about it.” Set up a tent with some blankets and pillows inside. Then, at various intervals, peek your head out to give your kid a thumbs up or hug.
The Body-as-a-Blockade Nap
When my friend Anna would return home from work, she’d often find her stay-at-home husband on the floor, his body blocking their infant from escaping out of the baby gate. He’d be asleep while their child played with toys inside her safely barricaded quarters.
The Nap Babysitter
Parents usually hire babysitters for date nights and special events. But what event can be more special than a blissful nap? Shelling out cash so you can go lie down might sound extravagant, but if you’re really lacking sleep, I don’t see a more worthy investment.
The Village Gathering Nap
In America, we expect adults to be “on” all the time — alert, chatty and armed with an opinion about everything from weaning to March Madness. In other countries, though, rest rules. Parents can take a nap instead of engaging in another conversation about picky eating, and there’s no judgment. Writes Tom Hodgkinson in The Idle Parent, one of my favourite parenting books ever, “In more sane societies, child care is shared among large numbers of people, reducing the burden on individual parents and creating wide margins for error, margins in which sleep can be inserted. Marvel at the guilt-free, hammock-based nap of the Mexican parent, safe in the knowledge that their children are surrounded by friends and family.” At your next family party, when your kid is being thoroughly entertained by three aunties, maybe go off and rest somewhere. Other mums and dads will look at you and think, “Wow, you mean I can do that?”
The Sleepover Game Nap
When my friend Kristen’s daughter was little, they played the “sleepover game.” It’s easy. Just do what you’d do at a sleepover — tell scary stories, paint each other’s nails, have a pillow fight, and culminate the party with actual sleep.
The Driveway Nap
If your kids fall asleep in the car (oh, bless the car), pull into the driveway, recline your seat and take a nap yourself. Don’t waste those precious minutes checking Facebook.
The Kids’ Movie Nap
There’s not much to explain with this one. Tell your kiddos you’re taking them to a matinee, and then the moment they’re settled in with their popcorn and Red Vines, take a nap in the cool, dark theatre. Don’t choose a flick that’s too scary (you can’t have them climbing on you in terror) and make sure everyone has used the restroom beforehand. That’s about it. One hour and 43 minutes of peace for $US12 ($16), or the price of a MoviePass, if you plan to use this nap strategy often.
The Partner Switch-Off Nap
When you have kids, sleep is suddenly used as currency between partners. Don’t let it become a source of tension and jealousy. Hodgkinson writes, “I can’t stand that dreadful evening standoff where each partner tries to convince the other that their life is harder. We should be overjoyed when our partner naps: She is not slacking off, she is being merely sensible. We need sleep!” Figure out ways for both of you to take naps. Schedule “mum nap time” and “dad nap time” on weekends, and when it’s not your turn, get the kids the heck out of the house. (As I say as I cosy up into my bed, “I don’t care where you go, but you can’t stay here.”) Know that once the other person wakes up a little more refreshed, everyone will be happier. And look — bedtime is just around the corner.