It is as rare as a solar eclipse, and just as fleeting. It is as sought after as an Italian white truffle and guarded like an embarrassing secret. Any parent of more than one small child will tell you, when both/all kids nap at the same time, a euphoric schizophrenia sets in. What to do with these precious borrowed moments? This is time you could not plan for because you know to assume simultaneous sleeping is to set yourself up for disappointment and frustration. But the moment the house falls silent, and you have verified that both children are indeed alive but unconscious, options bubble up like long-repressed confessions.
I found myself in that magical eclipse this afternoon and was practically paralyzed by the seemingly endless opportunities for how to spend this precious time:
Take a nap? Everyone says to sleep while the baby is sleeping, but that’s impossible with a toddler running around. When both little ones are sleeping, though, there’s a chance for a mid-day power nap. On the other hand, by the time I change into PJs, draw the curtains, and get cozy with the baby monitor next to me, one of them is bound to wake up.
Eat something? As the nursing mom of a toddler, I eat whatever and whenever I can, usually standing up, straight from the container. And it usually contains chocolate (’cause when you can’t have alcohol or caffeine, that’s the drug of choice). The chance to fix a proper meal (canned soup, when warmed up and eaten out of a bowl, counts), and to consume it at a table, is one I should not pass up.
Tidy up? Keeping a toddler’s home clean is an uphill battle, and naptime is the one chance I have to recapture a sense of order. Rescuing long-missing puzzle pieces from under the couch, reuniting scattered train tracks, and emptying the dishwasher that’s been clean since yesterday would make my house – and my mind! – feel a bit less cluttered. Of course, there is always the inescapable reality that the house will be a mess again within an hour of my son waking up.
Work on the baby books? Ah, arts and crafts, how I once loved you so. I could spend hours with construction paper, scissors, and a glue stick. Before I had kids, most of my all-nighters were spent bent over some labor of love project. Now I don’t dare even bring out my craft box because the minute it is out of the cupboard some curious little hands are bound to appear and begin riffling through the puff paint, stampers, glitter glue, metallic markers, and other furniture-destroying tools.
Make dinner? More practical than indulgent, but getting a jump start on the next meal means more time to enjoy the kids when they wake up. It also means less chance of ending up with omelets for dinner again.
Take a shower? Ah, one of the unappreciated luxuries of childless life – a long, hot shower. Long enough to use a deep conditioning treatment and shave my legs. But then, there’s nothing worse than hearing a child awake just after I’ve lathered up my hair . . .
Make a phone call? My generally good-natured kids seem much more likely to have crying or screaming fits the minute I pick up the phone. There’s nothing worse than calling someone only to have to hang up a minute or two later because it’s impossible to hear them. And then there’s the possibility of being interrupted by some mommy emergency (a poop explosion, ipod in the toilet, toddler sitting on his sister, etc.), or being distracted just long enough for a child to take his diaper off and pee on the couch. In short, simultaneous nap time is the best (and sometimes the only) chance to make phone calls (so if you haven’t heard from me in awhile – that’s why!).
Watch the kids sleep? Arguably the least productive use of these precious magical minutes, but what is more precious than a sleeping child? They seem to be growing all the time and spend their days in a blur of motion, but when they are sleeping, they still look like sweet chubby cherubs. Their vulnerability brings out my maternal instincts and prompts me to forgive the broken tea cup and the stained couch. It reminds me that I need to cherish every minute with these little people.
Journal/ blog? Before my daughter was born, I would write whenever my son fell asleep, which is how I was able to post two or three times a week. Now, those two hours that my son is napping are the best quality time I get with my daughter. So when they are both asleep, my first instinct is to take advantage of that opportunity to write. The borrowed time never lasts long though. Case in point – this post has taken me five – yes, five! – simultaneous nap sessions (over 8 weeks) to write. And now my baby’s nap is over. It looks like omelettes for dinner again tonight . . .