Becoming a mother has taught me a lot. I’ve written about this in extensive detail in previous posts. Now, as my child gets older and his nap and sleep schedule is more predictable, I’ve been given the precious gift of free time.
Every day, twice a day, I get a cumulative total of about two and a half to three hours to myself. The first week this happened, I was in disbelief. I spent this time anxiously watching tv with the baby monitor in my periphery just waiting for my son to wake after a quick little power nap. But he didn’t. He slept hard for over an hour every time (some days close to two). Very quickly I realized that I’m getting my much needed “me” time back, and Lord help me if I was going to spend it watching TV all day (that’s what the evenings are for, right?).
So what do I do when my little one naps?
I should start by saying that, like his mother, my son is an early bird, with a built-in alarm clock that goes off sometimes as early as 5:30 am. His first nap often falls between 9 and 9:30 am. I know that I could use this time to crawl back into bed and catch some extra zzz’s myself, but (with the exception of pregnancy) naps have never been my style. Highly caffeinated, I’m basically buzzing with the excitement to have some peace and quiet.
I’ve defaulted to utilizing this first nap time for self care purposes. Self care is a bit of a trendy expression these days, but to me, it just means doing whatever will calm my anxieties, and set me up for a bubbly and positive day. Most days this means unrolling my mat, lighting a candle, firing up the diffuser and basking in a nice, s l o w, yummy feeling flow yoga practice while listening to some Eastern inspired beats. Other days this means doing some online banking and getting my family’s finances in order, replying to emails, making a nourishing green smoothie while reading articles about Ayurveda, or the occasional at-home workout (vary rare, as I’ve learned that a slow pace in the morning is often much better for me).
I’ve released myself of the expectation to get ALL of the shit done during this time. Laundry, food prep, cleaning can all wait. This first nap time is my precious chance to connect with myself and take in what my body and soul needs.
In the afternoon, my son sleeps again. This nap is often a bit of a wild card. Sometimes this nap is on the go — in a stroller, carrier, or car. Sometimes it’s not at home, after all, Sawyer and I are both quite social! If we do happen to be home when this nap rolls around, I send the time focusing on my creativity — writing; working on photography projects; researching inspiration for a painting that I feel is on the verge of finally pouring out of me. (It’s been a very long time since I’ve painted for the sake of a creative outlet.) No matter the endeavour, it almost always calls for a hot cup of herbal tea (rooibos chai, turmeric, and tulsi being my favourites).
These precious moments of time have brought about a sense of peace within me. I’m still in disbelief of how much motherhood has changed me. Before I had Sawyer I always felt an internal pressure to hustle — to grow a business, to keep up with social media, to maintain a certain physique, to make more and more money, all the while losing sleeping from the what if’s that circled through my head. But since I’ve surrendered to motherhood, I’ve reconnected with who I am fundamentally. I’ve revisited old interests, I’ve released myself of the pressure to attain a certain level of fitness that, truth be told, has always been highly out of reach for me, and I’ve softened into acceptance of who I really am, and what is really important to me.
I’ll be honest, life is great. Time is a gift, so why not use it to do what makes your heart sing?