Naptime & the productivity panic


I usually count myself among the lucky – most days the Pie will take a good nap. Sometimes it’s in the form of one 3-hour nap, sometimes it’s in the form of two hour-long naps. Some sad days it’s a 10-minute morning nap followed by a 90-minute afternoon nursing session, but I usually get some time in the day.

While laying in bed with the Pie, nursing and humming and whispering rhythmic stories, I begin thinking about all the things I need to do, and get restless.

I create a plan for beginning the tasks in a specific order, and prepare my naptime itinerary of productivity. I will get so much done, and I might even have time to relax and read something!

Then, when I can finally slip out of bed and silently shut the door behind me, all the planning and mental scheduling disappears, and the naptime productivity panic sets in.


So much! Where to begin? PANIC!

  • Work to catch up on!
  • Emails to return!
  • Start the laundry!
  • Get something to eat!
  • Take a shower!
  • Start dinner!
  • Run an errand!
  • Call a friend!
  • Write something!
  • Write thank you notes from my baby shower!
  • Call and ask about my insurance deductible!
  • Weed! Read! Clean! Sleep! Think!

I often end up wandering around in a confused frantic state, picking up stray socks and leaving them in the kitchen where I begin to unload the dishwasher, but get distracted when I remember that I need to unclog the shower drain or that I left a bag of veggies on the front porch when I came home from the farmer’s market. It’s overwhelming and discouraging and I end up not being very productive with my time, and now that the Pie is more mobile, chores are less easy with her around.


As infrequently as I am actually caught taking my own advice, I believe it to be true – nap times are best spent on self-care. It is possible to to chores with an awake baby – here I’m in the middle of folding laundry, planting seeds, cooling bread and prepping dinner with the Pie awake.


She likes being in her chair only for a few minutes, but in that few minutes I can actually get a few tasks partially done, or one task (like loading the dishwasher) almost done. Conversely, if she’s awake and I haven’t done anything for myself during nap time, I will end up angry, frustrated, sad, overwhelmed, sometimes even crying. Because it’s pretty impossible to sit down with a glass of wine and a good book with a baby trying to pull up on you (for this reason, I recommend a nice crisp, fruity white) and screaming for attention.

So I am challenging myself and all of you to practice better naptime productivity – the productivity of self-care. Some days I may need to stay in bed and nap with the Pie, some days I may need a shower or to read or to sit in the garden. Some days I may need to write or eat or watch funny videos online. I can’t promise to not to any chores during nap time, but I will try to focus more on self-care during naps rather than a list of chores. They will still be there when she wakes, and time for relaxing won’t be. I suspect I will be happier after having restored some sense of self to my day, and will be better able to handle the chores once I’m in a good mood and feeling a little refreshed.

What’s on your list for nap time?

1 comment:

  1. Great post. You described the Nap Phenomenon perfectly. My sons are now 7 and 5, so naps are a few chapters back for us, but I absolutely remember that panicky feeling of needing to "get stuff done" like I was in the Olympics Housekeeping Semi-Finals or something. (No, I did not medal in my event. I did not even place in the top 10. Sigh.)

    Why? Why do we mommies do this to ourselves? Why is it so hard to relax until every last onesie is folded and put away (hint: they never all will be)?

    If I could go back in time, I would not have acted like this. I would have hired someone to act like this for me.



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