How many times have you made a to-do list of all the things you will accomplish during nap time? From household chores to work projects and more, the list is never-ending and nap time rarely goes as planned. I’m guilty. Guilty of filling every spare moment with something because there is always something.
The other day, I needed to get some copy to a client. I put my daughter down for a nap and asked my other two to play nicely together, and then got busy. But ultimately, my middle child wanted help with something and we are in a phase where the ability to be patient does not exist. Every question or statement is a demand that comes out as half whine, half cry. So I paused my work and helped her find her kitty doll. From there, I powered through a podcast and created copy to promote across my client’s social channels. It probably took longer than it needed to and the process was more stressful than I’d like, but it got done in a timely manner and my girls got to see me doing something I largely enjoy, writing.
On this day, my youngest is napping in her crib and my older two are hanging with my husband. I feel the pressure of the to-do list… laundry that needs to be folded and put away, clean dishes in the dishwasher, areas of the house that need organizing and cleaning. But I don’t want to. I love the feeling at the end of a productive day, but it is hard to always be productive. To always be doing what you should do or need to do.
With so much pressure on nap time, it can be devastating when this precious time doesn’t go as planned. Perhaps baby wakes sooner than planned or worse yet, doesn’t nap at all. The opportunity for both rest and productivity have gone out the window. So where is the balance that allows you to feel like you are getting to what needs to get done, while also leaving time for yourself to relax and recharge? How do you leverage the ever-elusive nap time to maximize for productivity while still sprinkling in a bit of fun, without setting yourself up for disappointment when things don’t go as planned?
As I consider these questions and try to give myself a break from time-to-time, here is what helps me manage the never-ending list of to-dos and the rare window of time to truly focus on a specific task or project.
- Memories are what matters. Remind yourself that the things that seem super urgent in the moment, rarely are urgent at all. A sink full of dishes might be anxiety-inducing, but when you look back on the years with young children, these are not the moments or memories that will stand out. Instead, you will focus on the milestones, trips to the zoo or park, family picnics and more.
- Know the difference between urgent and important. Be realistic about what you can and need to accomplish. In a world of growing to-do lists, often the list of tasks grows faster than you can check them off. You start the day with the best intentions, but there is always a fire to tend to or an unexpected need that must be addressed immediately. This is where a healthy dose of reality is helpful. Setting realistic expectations means you get done what most needs to get done. It’s about knowing what needs to be done well and what just needs to get done.
- Grace. Lastly, grant yourself a bit of grace. Parenting is about going with the flow. This means letting go of expectations – both yours and those of others.
Like most women, I love when my time is my own to manage, but as a mom, that is rarely the case. Often times, despite our best intentions, something or someone must take priority. So when time allows, do something for yourself, as well as tackling the never-ending list of tasks. Because at the end of the day, you have to take care of yourself in order to take care of others. And the to-do list really can wait.