So here it is. Aurora is a perpetual cat-napper. I have tried everything to get this kid to sleep longer stretches, but my methods never work. I’m actually pretty proud of myself that I’ve made it to the point where I can get her to fall asleep within 10-15 minutes. Let me paint you a picture of our nap times:
• Diaper change
• Fill up the humidifier tank in her bedroom
• Try to nurse, laying down on the floor bed (she sleeps in her crib for naps). She’ll take one sip and be back to crawling and pulling up to standing on me and trying to get to the books up against the wall.
• Darken the room by closing the blackout curtains. If she hasn’t started fussing yet, this is when it starts.
• Snuggle her up into a sleep sack. I use Zipadee-Zip sleep sacks (click here) as often as I can to avoid issues with the dreaded moro reflex. Remember, she’s crying and pretty mad at me by this point.
• Sit on the exercise ball and turn on the iPod I have set up on the small end table. It alternates between “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and “Rockabye Baby”, on repeat. This sometimes calms her down a bit.
• I used to use a homeopathic remedy for all naps and bedtime, but now I only use this remedy selectively, if Aurora is having a particularly difficult time falling asleep. This magic blend is called, “Passiflora Plex”. It was recommended to me by my naturopath, and it CHANGED OUR LIVES. Haha!
• Now I slowly begin to bounce. Sometimes she’ll start to nurse right away (yes – apparently nursing on the ball is much better than nursing on the bed ). If she doesn’t, then I turn the music up fairly loud to drown out her crying and pick up the bouncing a bit more and start shushing. I often give her a bum a light patting when this is going on. This usually calms her down pretty quickly and I start reducing the volume of the music and my shushing.
• I bounce until I feel Aurora’s head start to get heavy and keep adjusting the volume of the music down. If she stirs, I pick up the bounce pace or go back up a bit with the volume. Usually the increased bounce pace will calm her back down.
• Eventually, the music gets turned off completely, I have stopped shushing and I am slowly rocking her on the ball by moving my hips forwards and backwards. Then this peters out and we are sitting still.
• I wait for an additional 2-3 minutes and then it’s safe to slowwwwwly stand up and make my way to the crib.
All of that, and Aurora sleeps for about 30-40 minutes twice a day (she’s 9 months old… today!) and I almost always go back to sleep during her first nap. Like I mentioned above, I’m pretty proud of this sleep routine that we’ve got going. It used to take me an hour or sometimes more, to get her to nap for 30 minutes. At that time, I wasn’t able to get her into the crib. She needed constant contact, so I would sleep beside her in our bed. This is progress my friends.
For those of you who have babies who just fall asleep anywhere, embrace it!!! This child will not even sleep in the car seat. I kid you not.
I’m writing this post today because time and time again, I would get Aurora down for a nap and just be so relieved that she was down, that I would be wandering around the house aimlessly wondering what to do first and end up sitting on the couch with a sandwich, farting around on my phone. Aurora would wake up and I would instantly think, “Agh! I wasted my precious time doing nothing!” It was time to get serious and start planning my free nap times. And truth be told – I am still working on this, but having a plan is more than half the battle!
Whether your baby is a cat-napper or regular napper, or you are not in possession of a baby, but want to make better use of your time, here’s THE PLAN.
*Before we get started, please note: Food and water are paramount – Take the time to nourish your body, whether you are breastfeeding or not. If it takes up an entire baby nap to prep and eat, consider it a successful nap time well-spent. See below for some tips on how to make the prep time speedier!
~ SPEND YOUR PRECIOUS TIME LIKE A BOSS ~
1. Make Two Lists. Having a list to help guide your day will start you off on the right foot. It’s harder to feel overwhelmed or chaotic when you have guide. Let the list be your guide
Your first list will be your “Weekly List” and your second list will be your “Daily List”. Every Sunday, make a new weekly list, to include everything you would like to accomplish in the upcoming week. Once it’s done, prioritize it and number each item in RED, so it stands out. Or you can re-write the list in order if you like. Whatever you do, make it easy to see which tasks are the most important.
Your Daily List will be revised every night before you go to bed for the following day. Check back to your Weekly List to see if there’s anything you can incorporate on the following day’s list. These don’t have to be all about cleaning, meal prep, etc. They can be fun things that you want to do as well!
2. Create a Base Routine. I like starting a new routine! My brain doesn’t love sticking to it… haha! When you’re eventually comfortable in your routine, it’s much harder for unexpected things to happen. A routine provides a more structured or disciplined approach to life, which is actually very helpful for those of us that feel like we’re flying by the seat of our pants half the time.
I find that it helps to start small. Implement one or two things to your new Base Routine. For example: Mondays – I put away all of the laundry I did over the weekend; Dishes are washed and dishwasher loaded immediately after the kids are in bed or Fridays – vacuum the house.
It may take some time to get this one under way, but it will be worth it. I’m still working on creating my base routine and I find that with each new task or habit that I add, I feel so much better!
3. Get Organized. Keep reading! Don’t run away! This is when I would click that little “X” at the top and move on, haha. I am terrible at organization. Terrrrrrible. Unfortunately, organization makes life a whole lot easier. Work on this one bit by bit. I still have piles of chaos all over my house. Motherhood really did a number on my housekeeping When creating your Weekly List (above), incorporate 1 thing to organize each week – or every other week for that matter.
With organization, comes less stress to maintain tidiness, you’ll know where things are right away, it will be easier to put things away and you’ll be able to get things done more quickly.
4. Delegate. Are you spending your precious free time doing things that others could be doing? You do enough. Maybe you have a spouse or other children that are perfectly capable of pitching in around the house. If so, make sure you are not the only one responsible for taking care of your household. Kids are great at chores, once you teach them how!
“It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.” ~ Ann Landers
5. Speed Up. This doesn’t mean to do things at a frantic pace. What I mean, is, instead of leisurely folding a basket of clothes while watching TV, fold the clothes with the intention of finishing the basket within 10 minutes. Maybe set a timer and see if you can beat your record? If you’re washing dishes, turn on some dance music and WASH. THOSE. DISHES! Make chores into mini-games or missions. Tackle them quickly so you can make time to…
6. Rest! I said it above and I’ll say it again – I sleep during Aurora’s first nap almost every day. That means that I use up half of my “free daytime” to sleep and I never regret it! A tired parent is a useless parent.. or almost useless. You know what I mean. Whether you decide to sleep or lay on the couch reading or perhaps having an afternoon cocktail on your back deck, make the decision and enjoy every moment of it. You deserve it!
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