It’s an age-old saying that, in theory, makes perfect sense. I’m pretty sure most parents have been advised to “leave the housework” or “don’t worry about anything else” and to SLEEP WHEN THE BABY SLEEPS.
Now, assuming you have a baby/child that naps for longer than 25 minutes at a time, this strategy is a sensible suggestion. Chances are you’re feeling a hell of a lot more knackered than your pre-children days, especially if your baby doesn’t sleep at night, and taking some time to lay down and catch up on any overnight sleep you’ve missed out on can make the day easier to deal with.
However, this just doesn’t work for me. When my daughter was born two-and-a-half years ago, there used to be times when I was so exhausted I just couldn’t function without a daytime sleep when she did, but it was rare. Now my son is coming up to six months old and I’ve found that the need to sleep has diminished slightly (I guess I’ve just got used to 6 hours a night). But there are loads of other factors at play here:
Me time I’m breastfeeding, and at the moment, our son isn’t a massive fan of taking a bottle (and by this I mean, he won’t). This means that going out with friends for an evening, or even leaving him for an afternoon, is currently not really an option. So any little snippet of time I get to myself, even if it’s just doing the online food shop or having a cup of tea and watching Judge Rinder (yes, this, I think the man is hilarious) is really precious.
Catching up or getting ahead. On the very rare occasion I manage to get both children to sleep at the same time (now is one of them by the way – parenting holy grail), if I’m feeling motivated to do something more than just drinking tea, the sense of satisfaction I get from catching up with my to-do list (more on this when I explain my new found bullet journal habit) or even making dinner for the evening is immense. Small victories and all that.
Headspace > Sleep. For me, the opportunity to have a hour or so of AWAKE time by myself, whatever I’m doing, is so much more important than an extra hour of sleep (tell me that at 5:30am though and I might be saying something different!). Sleeping somehow feels like “dead” time. I go to sleep, I wake up, and then the parenting starts all over again and I’ve not had a “break”. Whereas if I’m awake, I can really recharge my brain ready for the next round.
I have several friends who absolutely relish a nap wherever they can get one, so I know that this approach isn’t for everyone. But for me it works and I think (I hope) that having a bit of time to do something for myself each day makes me into a more patient parent, and also makes me really appreciate the time my children are awake.
Which camp are you in? Leave me a comment – I’m interested to see if I’m in the minority!