Tag Archives: time management

Make the most out of naptime

naptime

This post published in the Press Democrat on Friday, November 30.

Naptime was a sacred time of day when the kids were younger. This was especially true when the Taz, my now 11-year-old son, was just a toddler. That kid knew how to party! He would be up and running the moment he woke up in the morning, keeping me on my toes when he discovered that he was, in fact, faster than Mommy. He could undo the latch on the front door in the blink of an eye, climb over his child gate with the greatest of ease, and make his whole bed into a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before I could say “Would you like milk with your blankets?”

So when the Taz would crash in the middle of the day for a blessed two hours, I performed my own personal happy dance before diving head first into whatever I could do on my mini-vacation from being a mom.

Most of the time this meant I took a nap.

But, as every mom of a toddler knows, taking a nap during the kids’ naptime feels like an awful waste of time. When the whole day is spent chasing after the toddler and occupying them so they stay out of the condiments, that two-hour break becomes the only time during the day to actually be productive. While it’s tempting to nap every time your toddler goes to sleep, it’s taking away from the uninterrupted time to get your priorities done much faster than if the kids are clamoring for your attention. With the help of some friends, here are a few ideas on what to do when your kid goes down for their nap.

Keep on top of the to-do list. “I catch up on paperwork for the Daycare, Pampered Chef and Girl Scouts, “ Joelynn McIntosh of Glen Ellen said, describing the duties she holds that are hard to attend to while her 1-year-old son, Ethan, is awake. After all her work is done, she catches up on her TV watching. If you have a significant amount of time to spare while your child is down for the count, consider using it for the things that need your full attention like paying bills, catching up on email, or throwing yourself into a project you’ve been meaning to start but never seem to have the time for.

Make the house sparkle. Ok, sparkle might be too strong of a word. But this is a great time to get a handle on that laundry that’s building up in the bedroom, taking care of the ring around the tub, or to start dinner. One cookbook that has become my personal kitchen bible for meal planning is “The Naptime Chef”, by Kelsey Banfield. She shares how to make gourmet meals that are both easy to make and delicious to taste, utilizing the kids’ naptime to start preparing the meal. Even though my kids are now well past naptime (sort of…I do have teenagers, after all, who love their after school snoozes so they can stay up super late), I break out this cookbook every week when planning my meals.

Do nothing. “Sometimes, I would just sit and do absolutely nothing. That was always the best choice,” said Jeney Pribyl of Santa Rosa. When the kids are running around driving you wild with their never-ending source of energy, what is it you wish you could do most? Nothing! Of course, if sitting and staring at a blank wall seems like it might get old after a few minutes, do something for you that is purely selfish and not about getting things done. Draw a bath and read a book in the tub. Garden without fear of your flowerbed getting trampled on. Throw on an exercise DVD and pump yourself up. Put on a movie and snuggle up on the couch. Or even (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) take advantage of a little alone time with your spouse.

The biggest tip to remember is to plan our your child’s naptime. Before their head hits the pillow, think of the things you hope to accomplish by the time they wake up and require your undivided attention. If your child takes only a short nap, plan for short activities – like reading a magazine or eating a complete meal. If they still take longer naps, that’s when you can do something more involved – like calling a friend , updating your blog, or taking a shower AND washing your hair.

But what if you’re really tired?

Then take a nap. When sleep is the only thing you can think of to do during this 30-minute to 2-hour time frame, then sleep is what you need.

Check out some more ways to utilize naptime at SantaRosaMom.com  What do you like to do during your child’s naptime?

7 tips for busy moms

This article publishes in the Press Democrat on July 13.

One of the favorite phrases of kids is, “I’m bored.” You know, as in they have nothing to do, would like to be entertained, have finished all the play they had on their list of things to do and literally don’t know what to do with themselves.

I do not understand the concept of boredom.

Seems like once you have children, being bored becomes a luxury. If I’m not carpooling kids, making something to eat for a hungry child, signing paperwork for school/camp/sports, attending a dance recital or soccer tournament, cleaning up in front of the adolescent tornado following me around, or entertaining said-bored children, I’m mulling over all these things on a constant rotation in my head. And if I ever get on the verge of this so-called “bored” feeling, it’s usually overcome by guilt over all the things I think I should be doing.

Moms are busy creatures. There isn’t much time outside day-to-day family life that allows for us to have down time or an opportunity to reconnect with friends. However, time away from the “have-to-do” stuff is just as vital as checking off every item from that to-do list.

Here are a few tricks I’ve learned along the way in balancing the seesaw between my personal self and my job as mom:

1. Have a list, but keep it short. I know you have a lot you need to do, but weigh out those things that need to be done now, and those that can be done later. When you are making out the list of tasks you hope to accomplish that day, ensure that it allows for a finishing point rather than a competition in getting the most things done in a short amount of time.

And on that note …

2. Don’t procrastinate. This is why a short list is important. Turn off the TV and avoid anything that might be distracting (besides the kids). Then, get the big things out of the way first before focusing on the easier tasks. The longer you avoid your must-dos, the longer they take up residence in your head. And seriously, there’s got to be better things to think about than your to-do list, right?

3. Keep things clean. Have a set day each week for deep cleaning, and a set time each day for a quick tidy up. Get the other family members in the habit of picking up after themselves. Make sure the dishes are washed after every meal, and clean as you go while cooking dinner. It might take some effort at first, but after a bit of repetition, it will become second nature. If your house stays fairly neat on a regular basis, you won’t be stuck constantly cleaning it — or embarrassed when people drop by unexpectedly.

4. Learn how to say no. I know, the world needs your help. The classroom might fall apart if you don’t volunteer as snack mom. The soccer team will cease to exist if you aren’t the one making the banner. And how will all the neighborhood kids get to school if you’re not the one driving them? Trust me, everything will go smoothly even if you’re not the one getting it done. Take back some of your free time by practicing an assertive NO now and again, from signing your daughter up for another dance class to being the family taking care of Sniffles the Hamster for the summertime.

5. Rediscover your ME time. Let Dad take over the kids while you rediscover your love of painting. Grab a book and head to a secluded grassy knoll. Take yourself out to coffee. Do what you love all by yourself without kids hanging off your legs. But careful, this newfound freedom is intoxicating!

6. For all you married gals, date your husband. You know, that guy who lives with you? The one who signed up for this crazy mess with you and is still around? Leave the kids with Grandma (or set up an after-bedtime candlelit dinner) and remind yourself exactly why you keep making kids with this sexy guy you’ve married.

7. Find your friends. Before you had kids, you were going out all the time. So what happened? Well, you had to trade in your beer goggles for diaper genies, that’s what. But even after kids it’s important to have interests outside of Elmo and sippy cups. If going out is difficult, invite your friend to hang with you at the park, or to just enjoy a cup of coffee at your kitchen table. Catch up over a morning walk around the neighborhood. When you start raising a family, it’s especially vital to have friends around to support and love you.