I’m pretty sure every parent in the world would agree that naptime is sacred. It’s taken me a few months to figure out how to best utilize those precious minutes, especially on the days when I’m home with both kids, but I have it down to an art now.
In the early days, I struggled with knowing just when to put Mia down for a nap. Then a couple months ago, I stumbled upon some advice from another mom in a Facebook group I belong to.
She had read that the first nap of the day should start two hours after waking up in the morning, and the next nap should start three hours after waking up from the previous one. According to this mom, it worked brilliantly with her baby, so I was up for giving it a try.
Luckily this schedule has worked out amazingly for Mia, so now I’m a lot better at planning out our days based on when Mia wakes up.
I typically put Mia down for her nap around 10 am, at which point Parker and I hightail into my bedroom. He plays with his lego table and reads books while I take a quick shower and get ready for the day, all while Mia sleeps. If she sleeps an extra long time, I might even sneak in some quick computer work while Parker entertains himself.
When she wakes up, we go downstairs and eat lunch before it is Parker’s turn to take his nap. That time isn’t nearly as productive, since Mia is too young to play on her own for more than just a few minutes (and I always stay within arm’s length unless she’s in the exersaucer or jumpy seat).
Mostly, though, Parker’s nap time is spent giving Mia some extra attention and getting my fill of baby cuddles. If I have a show DVR’d, this is my chance to watch it since I try not to have the TV on too much throughout the day…aside from a couple episodes of Super Why or Little Einsteins here and there.
Once Parker wakes up, it’s playtime for all of us until the babysitter comes and I head to work. The days I’m home with both kids are pretty predictable and repetitive, partly because I thrive on routine but mostly because I’m not brave enough to venture out in the cold with both of them (unless it doesn’t involve getting out of the car, like a quick run to the bank or Starbucks drive through).
As predictable and uneventful as they are, those naptime minutes are still just as valuable. I feel sort of like a ninja on the days I’m able to time everything out really well and get all the things — you know, showering, eating, maybe a load of laundry — crossed off my list.
I would have never guessed back in the day that those things would become accomplishments, but it seems that comes with the territory of being a mom. As does writing an entire blog post about nap schedules, apparently.
I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions or set any big goals for 2016. Instead, my business partner Katey and I came up with a motto. “Simplify, Streamline, Self-Care” are the three words that will dictate my approach to work and life this year, which will be quite a change from 2015.
I’m taking great care to identify my priorities and eliminate the noise, but that’s really hard to do when you’re dealing with a business, a toddler, and a baby. I feel like my life is a giant puzzle whose pieces are scattered all over the floor, and I’m trying to fit them all into place. It’s hard to even know where to start sometimes.
So I pick up a piece at a time, examine it, and try to figure out where it fits into the puzzle that is my life. Some pieces get tossed back into the pile because they just don’t have a place right now, which was hard at first but has gotten easier as I’ve dedicated myself to this motto.
I finally finished reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and I want to devote a day in the near future to applying that method in my house. I think it will really help me simplify and streamline my life in general, because I am one of those people who gets anxious when the space around me is cluttered. And the act of tidying up my house totally counts as self-care, because I am a total organization nerd.
2015 was a rollercoaster year that left little time for considering my own happiness and well-being, and I’ll admit that it’s still not easy putting those things at the forefront. But I’m at least taking the first step by being more mindful about it, and continuing to come back to my motto when I start to feel overwhelmed.
I thought I was going to hate it. I still worked from home during Parker’s first year, so “pumping at work” meant walking from my home studio to my kitchen.
This time around, I was completely dreading having to remember my pump and parts every day, haul everything back and forth, and then set up shop in my studio between clients.
It took a few days to get the routine down, but once I did, something completely unexpected happened: I started looking forward to my pumping break.
It’s only 15 minutes, and I have to hurry through the prep and cleanup, but the time spent actually pumping gives me a chance to relax my brain for a few minutes. My afternoons and evenings are otherwise nonstop with back to back students, clients and groups, so it’s nice to be able to check my email, scroll through Facebook, and have a snack.
I’m lucky in that I was able to structure my days so that I only have to pump once; I would probably enjoy it much less if I had to pump multiple times throughout the day. And ask me in May how I feel about pumping at work…I’m pretty sure I’ll be over it at that point.
Two months in, though, I’m happy to have this tiny bit of downtime in my day. As long as I have a lock on my door and a fridge for storage, I’ll keep on keeping on.
Parker is ob-sessed with all things Halloween. He carries around his pumpkin bucket and practices his trick-or-treat technique on a daily basis. His favorite show right now is the Halloween episode of Little Einsteins on Netflix. He talks nonstop about pumpkins, witches and ghosts.
It’s super cute how excited he is, even though I’m not a fan of Halloween. I can’t wait to take him out in his Olaf costume when it’s finally time to trick-or-treat for real. And then we’ll pack up all the Halloween stuff and move on to Frosty around the clock (he’s already made his appearance quite a few times so far this fall).
But for now, pumpkins. And more importantly, coffee. Mia is in the middle of a seemingly never-ending growth spurt, which means she has been waking up at least two times every night to eat. I get up at 5 am every day to do all the work I don’t have time for during normal-people hours, which doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for quality sleep.
So coffee it is. One cup in the morning while I pump and work on the computer, and another right before I go to work in the afternoon. At this point in Parker’s infancy I was drinking 3 per day, so I feel pretty good about limiting myself to 2.
Fall is also for working on lots of projects, continuing to grow my business, getting ready to attend the national music therapy conference, and trying not to get too overwhelmed by all of the above. All of it is good, it’s just a lot — which is pretty much the status quo of my life.
Every week, I ask my podcast guests about their self-care practices. That is, what they do to nurture their spirits and recharge their batteries.
Some do yoga, others grow gardens…the list goes on. And then there are some who admit that this is an area where they fall short. I get it; I’m not good at self-care either.
All my current hobbies (songwriting, recording, website geekiness) are related to my work because I gave up the ones that weren’t (biking, working out regularly, scrapbooking) when I had kids and no time to pursue them.
So yesterday during our intern’s weekly supervision meeting, I felt a little like a hypocrite talking how important self-care is and assigning her to partake in self-care activities each week.
And then I woke up this morning and felt like a kid on Christmas when I remembered that I don’t work on Fridays anymore. Not that I don’t absolutely LOVE my work, but there is nothing better than ending the week with a day devoted to my babies — nowhere to go, nothing around which to plan our day, the whole weekend spread out in front of us. THIS is my self-care.
My first non-work Friday has been awesome. My friend Angie came over so that Parker and Janie could have a play date while we got to hang out with the baby girls.
And while Parker is napping, I’m typing this blog post with Mia asleep on my lap, not running around trying to accomplish a million things like I do on work days.
I may never work on Fridays again, and instead of feeling guilty about that, I’m just going to call it self-care.
Welcome! I’m Rachel Rambach, board-certified music therapist and creator of Listen & Learn Music — educational songs and musical materials for children. I love sharing my work with you, along with my behind-the-scenes creative process, adventures in business ownership, and life as a mom of two little ones.
New Book + 6 CMTE Course!
This is the book + course that will help you shape your music therapy career in order to make more money and live your ideal lifestyle. Details here.
Next month’s music therapy sessions, early childhood groups, or classroom music…planned for you in advance.
Click the image below for this free resource and song collection!