You’re a busy parent with a crazy schedule! When you get one glorious moment to do as you please, you quickly realize that it’s less about doing what you please and more about getting caught up. This makes this moment not as glorious as many struggle to find a way to most effectively use their time before their child’s nap is over and it’s back to business. While your time and your current list of demands will be your own, we’d like to offer a little help with a list of ideas that will help you feel as though your child’s nap time was well spent! Check it out:
1. Get Crafty
Doing something productive sounds great and all, but you’re not really in the mood to do standard “productive activities” like cleaning and organizing. That’s where crafts come in to save the day! You can get creative and enjoy a fun pass time while remaining productive. Grab some crafty materials and check out a craft site like BIG DIY for ideas and instructions to create awesome stuff during downtime.
2. Reach Out to Friends
Chatting up a friend may not seem like the most productive use of your time, but there are actually numerous benefits to be found here. First, you’re clearing your mind of your standard worries to engage in a discussion with an ADULT (there’s something to be said about that!). Second, you’re ridding yourself of some of the guilt and/or sadness that comes along with neglecting your friendships.
3. Get a Great Photo
Chances are you’re as obsessed with your little one as most parents are. That’s what makes this one so simple. If you have a smart phone, it has the capability to take a pretty decent picture. Take a moment to get a few cute pics of your sleeping child. These can be used later for scrapbooks, gifts for the grandparents, or even just an adorable addition to your Instagram. Let’s just keep in mind that one IG post a day is sufficient ;). No need to go blowing up anyone’s feed with 6 pictures of your precious little one a day.
4. Break a Sweat
This isn’t always the most appealing option for a tired parent, but it will make you feel amazing after! Even if it’s just 30 minutes on the treadmill or 10 minutes of INSANITY, a quick workout will generate the energy and positivity you need to carry out the rest of your day with a better mood and a happier mindset.
5. Step Outside
Spending some time outside can do wonders for an occupied mind. Taking your child’s nap time to step out in the backyard or on the front porch to take in the day will help you clear your mind and refresh a bit. I know what some of you are thinking here – what if your child wakes up?! That’s where a good baby monitor comes in to save the day. The izon camera is great for this because it provides live video and audio streaming, right to your phone or tablet. On top of this, it offers instant notifications to let you know when your child has moved or made a loud noise.
6. Brush up on a Skill
Remember how you were going to keep speaking French after graduation? The best way to accomplish that is through practice! Your child’s nap time is a great time to work at holding on to your skills and talents. Plan to practice your skill a bit as your child naps to refine your talents while focusing on something outside of your daily routine.
Everyone has one of these – a book that you’ve been meaning to check out but haven’t gotten around to reading. If you haven’t had a chance to pick it up at the store or order it online, check for the digital version! These can be uploaded to your phone, tablet, or even your desktop computer. Once you’ve got your copy, find a comfy place in your home to take a moment and allow yourself to escape in the story a bit.
8. Check Your Mail
Eeek. The mail box can be both a friend and a foe. Sometimes the mail you receive is simply an advertisement or a bank statement you’ve already checked online. Sometimes, it’s a card from a friend or an important notice on a topic you should look into. Setting aside a moment to really look at the mail you’ve received allows you to rest a little easier in knowing you haven’t missed something important.
9. Take Care of Bills
Paying your bills can be a major headache. Even worse? Trying to make calls and submit online forms while your child stands by your side asking for another juice box. The whole paying your bills thing is much easier with a clear head and a little quiet time. This makes nap time the perfect moment to make payments and check in on your finances.
10. Set Your Schedule
Scheduling appointments and making a plan for events can be tricky. Making the necessary calls for these things is also much more difficult when your child is awake to distract you. Taking a moment to schedule your appointments and RSVP to events is easier while your child is taking a nap. Make a list of the people and places you’ll need to contact when your child is down for a nap, then take care of business during this silent time.
11. Meal Prep
Taking the time to prepare healthy meals is key to maintaining sound nutrition. That being said, your schedule doesn’t always allow for this. One life hack that has helped many a busy person stay on a straight nutritional path is meal prepping. While your child naps, try cooking your meals in advance then save them in portions in the freezer or the fridge (depending on how long you plan ahead). This will save you from last minute decisions to order in a pizza or Chinese takeout.
Taking a moment for YOU is an important part of taking great care of your children. How are you feeling? Are you tired or stressed? Take a moment to relax a bit. Evaluate your state of being and take care of yourself accordingly. A little pampering goes a long way. Even just having some time to check in with yourself and understand your stress levels is huge!
13. Delegate Tasks
Not everything can be done by you. That’s why delegating tasks is a beautiful thing. However, even delegating takes time. That’s why nap time is a great time to get this done. Who needs a ride and where this week? What chores need to be done and who can do them? Make a list of your to-dos for the week then figure out the best way to get them done.
14. Pump Breast Milk
If you’ve got a baby at home, nap time is an amazing time to pump. You can relax and enjoy a little quiet time while you pump the milk you’ll need in advance.
15. Eliminate Distractions
A fatal error in productivity is assuming that a little white noise will help. Close your Facebook app, set down the Instagram feed, and turn off the television. Some quiet music can be alright to enjoy as you engage in a more productive activity so long as you’re careful not to wake your child. Headphones are great for this!
16. Make a Plan
This has already showed up in most of the points above, but it’s worth noting on its own as well. Make a plan for staying productive. Prioritize your list and plan a productive activity for every downtime throughout the week. Just remember to plan for at least a couple relaxation days!
17. Make a Gratitude List
These have become a big deal and for good reason. The best part? They’re fun once you get going. Setting aside five minutes of your downtime to jot down all of the things you’re grateful for will encourage a positive attitude for the rest of the day. There’s no need to focus on how many things you list each time, just focus on consistently listing items for a set period of time. This will make you think about the great things in life, and give you a positive little piece of paper to refer back to when things get hectic.
OK – we’ve gone through a big list here, but seriously the best thing you can do for yourself and your family is to make sure you’re in a healthy state of mind. A HUGE part of taking care of your mental health is leaving time for R&R. Remember to hold onto the activities and pass times you enjoy. Even the simplest luxuries in life can leave you feeling more relaxed and ready to take on the day.
We’d love to take credit for all of these fabulous ideas, but the truth is, we’ve had a little help! Check out the awesome resources we’ve pulled some of these awesome tips and info bits from:
5 Fun Things to do While Baby Naps – Heather Flett and Whitney Moss, Baby Center
8 things Things to do During Your Downtime – Liz Alton, Care.com
Seven Strategies for Having More Productive Days – Natalie Klejwa, Keeper of the Home
How to Stay Crazy Productive with a Baby Around – Ari Meisel, Greatist