I have the best of intentions as a mother, I really do. I search out the free activities in our community, I sign up for the library story time and the cutesy craft hours. I plan park dates and fun family adventures. I climb slides and pack picnic lunches and play tractors until I feel like screaming.
I know that an active, full life is a happy life and that getting out of the house is sometimes the only way to stay sane as a stay-at-home mother.
But when push comes to shove, my stay-at-home motherhood reality is dominated by one simple facet of life:
Nap time is King (or Queen because we’re all feminists here) in my house, for many reasons. Namely, I would lose my mind without it, my kids do lose their minds without it, oh, and also, I work from home, so we would lose a lot of money without it.
But as precious as nap time is to all of us, there comes a time of extreme frustration in every stay-at-home parent’s life when he or she faces the dreaded yet also sometimes beloved, two-a-day nap schedule.
Here’s how my current life schedule goes down:
- 5 a.m. — 7 a.m.: get up to work (or if I’m feeling fancy, work out) for a few hours
- 7 a.m. — 8 a.m.: get big kids off to school
- 8 a.m. — 10 a.m.: breakfast for littles, kitchen clean-up, house chores, laundry, dinner prep
- 10 a.m. —11:30 a.m.: baby naps
- 11:30 a.m. — 12:20 p.m.: lunch
- 1 p.m. — 3 p.m.: toddler naps, baby usually refuses another nap because she hates me
- 3:30 p.m. — 4:30 p.m.: school pick-up, after-school shenanigans
- 4:30 p.m. — 9 p.m.: hell, also known as dinner, bedtime, cleaning, etc., etc. until you collapse in a giant, exhausted heap on the couch
Almost every day I start with the greatest of intentions to get us all out of the house and on some grand adventure. To gymnastics! I declare. Out for a nature walk! I might decide. Go visit Grandma! I will chant.
Until 10:30 rolls around and we’re all still in our pajamas, I haven’t cleaned up breakfast, and the baby is rubbing her eyes in that universal, Put Me To Bed Already, Idiot Guardian sign. And once again, I will sigh in defeat, the day lost before it feels like it has even began.
Any moms with a baby (morning nap) and a toddler (afternoon nap) know what I’m talking about here, because there’s basically a 10-minute window to do anything out of the house during the day. And if you happen to have four kids, you might as well forget getting out the door because #aintnobodygottimeforthat.
Rationally, of course, I know that this time in my life isn’t forever, but irrationally, in stay-at-home motherhood time, it feels like a cruel form of torture that will never end. Conflicting nap times is a twist of fate that dangles the lure of a “break” right in front of me, but is sorely out of delicious reach.
And it’s frustrating, too, when I imagine that our life at home should be full of giggles and fun and Instagram-worthy adventures, instead of me mostly looking like something that rolled out of a trash can, sprinting between children who have to poop, and then putting one down to sleep just in time to chase down another.
I want them to be in control, gosh darn it, not these little tyrants! Shouldn’t I have a say in this sleep schedule business? Shouldn’t their naps benefit my day, in just the slightest, so I can catch my breath?
Apparently, parenting doesn’t work that way. Apparently being a stay-at-home parent has nothing to do with me. Which is unfortunate, but I also begrudgingly suppose, is kind of the point.
There will be a time in the near but distant future when my baby will drop her morning nap and she and the toddler will gloriously nap at the same time, giving me a whole blissful two hours of sanity in which to work, clean, or do something equally productive like lay on my living room rug and stare at the weird dust bunnies on top of our ceiling fan, telling myself I will get up in 10 minutes to clean them.
But until then, I will just be here, waving my white flag of surrender, with a re-heated coffee cup just out of reach because I’m probably changing a diaper.
Respectfully and temporarily yours,
A (Mostly) Happy Nap-Time Prisoner