"Sleep When the Baby Sleeps": Least Helpful Advice, Ever
What adult can be awake one minute, then pop down for a nap the next? Up and down several times a day? It doesn't make physical sense and it certainly isn't practical.
It’s just the worst piece of advice. Ever. Yet every time a woman gives birth, it’s one of the first things she’ll hear again and again. With a misguided sense of service, everyone from the nurses at the hospital to the checkout lady at Target counsels the same thing: “Sleep when the baby sleeps!” But let’s think this one through.
Babies, bless their semi-nocturnal hearts, don’t sleep all night. Just for a bit. Then they’re up again. Then back down. Up and down, up and down. Yes, some mythical babies sleep through the night very early on but we’re not talking about those situations here. Those moms don’t have to “sleep when the baby sleeps” because their babies are actually sleeping at night! The problem is, babies do this up and down thing during the day too. And it’s not always predictable. They fall asleep in cars, strollers, baby carriers, sometimes in the middle of tummy time. I assure you, it would be a mistake to nod off on a park bench the next time Baby shuts his eyes on walk. That goes double for the car, and trying to fold yourself onto the tummy mat just sounds uncomfortable.
What adult can be awake one minute, then pop down for a nap the next? Up and down several times a day? It doesn’t make physical sense and certainly isn’t practical.
Even though you’ve just had a baby—in the truest sense, one of life’s most awesome experiences—you still have a life to live. Floors to vacuum, laundry to fold, dinner to make (more than before!) and also…you might have other kids at home too.
Not napping at all isn’t the way to go either. You’ll burn out.
In order to feel productive but also somewhat rested, here’s my simple answer to naps: I lay in my bed and read a book for about 5 minutes, then sleep for 20. Yes, I actually turn on the alarm. And YES, it actually works great! I’m not a natural napper, in fact I hate napping. But I’ve had three babies in the last five years and will admit that I deeply need a bit of rest in the day if I’m going to make it all the way through the night. So I do a cat nap with a built-in period of winding down.
My kids (now 4, 2 and 1) take long naps (about two hours) so I still have time to do some things. And this is the best part: I also have a bit of quiet time when all the little heads are on pillows and my own head can feel something it deeply needs, calm.
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