Wednesday, February 8, 2012

10 fabulous things to do while they're napping

Naptime. . . Ahhh, for the parents of little ones, this means peace and quiet for a couple of wonderful hours in the middle of the day. As parents, our day starts out hectic and is promptly filled with activities to entertain and/or educate the kiddos, feed them, potty them, and run them ragged enough to go to sleep.

But there is this blissful, two-hour span of quiet just after lunch, smack-dab in the middle of the day, that is our time – mom's and dad's time – to do whatever it is WE want to do. That time is so precious, I thought I'd share some creative ways to spend it to your greatest advantage:

1) Do some "mental" chores
During the kids' waking hours, they demand our attention. Sometimes we can fit in a short, active chore here and there, and if we are really lucky, we can get the kids to help us with chores like putting sheets on the bed, de-pooping the backyard (mine love that one), or raking up leaves. These are chores that are active and need little direction for them to perform the way you need them to, so you don't have to go behind them and do them again.

Anyway, for all the chores you just can't do with the kids – balancing the bank account, analyzing the monthly bill situation, making the grocery list – there's no time like naptime. These chores take concentration, real brain power to complete. Get them done and you'll feel like a real adult for however long they take you to complete.

2) Chill out
What is that? Relax! It's good to just do nothing. And that is so hard to do, because the entire time you're thinking, "There are so many things I need to be doing." But sometimes it's good just to power down and not do a thing.

3) Take a nap
You run yourself ragged, why not take a nap yourself? Curl up with your little kiddo and have snuggle time with them, or just sack out on the couch for those two magical hours. Not a bad idea, huh?

4) Hang out with a friend
There are few times we are able to chill out with a friend. Maybe you could invite a buddy over and play catch up with them during those naptime hours. If it's a pretty day, you two could sit on the porch and talk community or celebrity gossip, come up with amazing solutions to family problems or just have a cup of coffee with some cake. Ahhhh, that sounds awesome!

5) Watch a movie
There are just some movies that are not appropriate for our little ones. Take this time to curl up on the couch and watch a grown-up flick. Movies not your thing? Then watch some HGTV and get inspired to redecorate a room or reorganize a closet. Which leads me to the next idea . . .

6) Do a small project
There are so many house projects that need to be done. Plan ahead and make sure you have all your supplies (if any are needed) and do a project you can complete in two hours and that is somewhat quiet. Hammering nails into the wall, for example, is never quiet, so don't plan to hang pictures on the wall. But you could frame-up some photos or artwork to hang later! Clean out a totally unorganized closet, vacuum (as long as you keep it on, it's great white noise for the kiddos), paint a wall or a room (my personal favorite), etc.

7) Make a photo album
We have pictures, a ton of them. Take this time to make a photo album. It doesn't have to be extravagant. Simply getting the photos printed and put into a standard photo album is hard enough. But if you have a creative, craft-loving bone in your body, naptime is a perfect opportunity to decorate and enhance your photos. This kind of project is ongoing, because we have new photos and stories to add all the time. Scrapbooking requires a dedicated area where you can easily get to all your supplies, and not have to put them away every time you have to move on to something else.
 
8) Organize upcoming events
We all have obligations that require our attendance, whether it be a birthday party, PTA meeting, play date, soccer practice or game, or even a long-awaited date with your "squeeze." This is a good time to make sure your calendar, digital or physical, is up-to-date with events and reminders.

I always stick reminders like birthday party invitations and school function fliers on the fridge. You can kill two birds with one stone and clean off that fridge when you update your calendar. But then again, I like my crazy-looking fridge. I have a magnetic photo card on my fridge from four years ago still clinging to the door. Some reminders I just can't seem to part with. Oh well, for the rest of the clutter, it can be kept neatly on the calendar where it should be.

9) Yard work
On a beautiful day, why stay inside? If you enjoy yard work, this is a perfect opportunity to pull weeds, plant new flowers, trim shrubs (no power tools unless you're on the opposite end of the house from the kids), rake leaves, mow the lawn, pull ivy off the house. Wow, the endless possibilities of yard work!

To have a beautiful house, you need to keep the yard clean. Yard work is great for mental and emotional wellness, not to mention the physical benefits. If you're mad, yard work can be soothing; if you're sad, it can be uplifting; if you're happy, well then, it's just fun. If you don't like yard work, then leave this chore to your "squeeze."

10) Read a book
Quiet time for a couple of hours is the best opportunity to read a book, next to bedtime reading. If you've got a good novel, everyday reading is a pleasant way to enjoy the kids' naptime. It's an escape from the ordinary, a way to visit another time, place, or be another person (living vicariously through the characters).

Naptime is one of the things we parents look forward to when the kids wake us up too early in the morning. Use that time wisely. Once the kids grow up, that time is no longer reserved. But for now, naptime is your special time to do with as you please.

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