One of the realities of having small children is that one’s true downtime is fairly limited. It gets better fairly soon — my 5-year-old and 3-year-old would watch TV for hours if allowed — but up until somewhere between about ages 2.25-2.5, if the baby’s awake and in your care, you’re on.
Since that downtime is limited, it’s precious. So on weekends, I’ve been trying to figure out how to make the best use of nap time (roughly 1-3 p.m. for the baby; the older kids get screen time). While planning for downtime sounds crazy, I find that if I don’t plan, the nap disappears into non-relaxing things. Indeed, this is my first rule of happy parenthood:
Don’t do chores during naptime.
Oh, sure, there may be dishes in the sink, but if for some reason you absolutely have to clean them — say, your kitchen is subject to a nightly inspection by the Better Homes and Gardens editorial staff — then it is possible to wash a plate here and there between fetching cups of milk and replenishing the high chair tray with Cheerios. It is not, however, that easy to do several other things while taking care of a small child: lose yourself in a book, sleep, have sex, take a bubble bath, enjoy an uninterrupted cup of coffee (or cocktail), do a workout video, meditate, indulge in a creative hobby, do some strategic thinking. So any of those would make a better choice for naptime.
The problem is that if one doesn’t choose ahead of time, when the baby goes down, the temptation is to start puttering around. Look, there’s a toy out of place. I wonder what’s in my inbox? Did someone sort the mail? Next thing you know, half of naptime is gone and you’re not that relaxed.
This past Saturday, once the baby went down for her nap, I picked up the novel I was reading, and got to spend 90 minutes enjoying the story. I’d been feeling lately like I don’t have time to read for pleasure, but I do. I just have to do downtime right.
What do you do during downtime on weekends?
Photo courtesy flickr user Alex Bellink