If your kid is taking a nap it means free time for you. How to use this free time?
Rule: Never do something when your kid is sleeping if you could do that same thing when they were around.
Create or rest
- Do creative work (such as doing your daily writing), or intellectually demanding work (such as replying to emails), or
- Take some time for yourself (read a book, watch an episode of your favorite series, or sleep)
Don't underestimate resting your mind. A rested mind is a big part of productivity.
It's hard to do intellectual tasks or rest when attuned to your kids. Paying attention to them them takes up the mental capacity to create things or to rest your mind.
Don't do these
So what kind of thing not to do when they are napping?
Don't do housework. Don't unload the laundry. Don't clean the kitchen.
Depending on your kid's age, you can clean the kitchen when they're around. For example, you can clean while you're baby-wearing until around 6 to 9 months of age. (Or even later if you're strong!)
Or you can involve them in the cleaning after that age. For example, they can sort out the jar lids on the side. Or as they grow, they can help you "unload" the dishwasher" or "wipe" the floors.
Why you should involve kids in your physical tasks
I know this doesn't sound like "real" help but it's developmentally important to involve them in your daily tasks because of 2 reasons:
- They feel in charge and that's good for their self-esteem.
- It rewires their brain, particularly the decision-making parts of it as they figure out their tasks.
- Bonus point, they learn to avoid boredom as they come up with creative ways to pass the time by your side.
Applies to parents of all ages
This advice might sound as if it only applies to parents of 0 to 3-year-olds because most kids tend to drop the nap after 3.
But you can substitute the word "nap time" with any chunk of time you get to be by yourself. Such as when they are hanging out with grandparents. Or they are at a play date. Or after they go to bed at night. It applies to any few hours you are by yourself.
Why does this rule work?
This approach helps you in two ways.
First, you get to create tiny pockets of time in a day where you can use your mind for yourself and yourself only. That is, by using it for focused intellectual work or for resting.
Second, you don't need to worry about multitasking when they are around. Multitasking takes us apart from being present with our kids.
Rather than trying to fit your intellectually demanding tasks within the time with your kids, separate these from physical tasks.
Use your alone time for intellectual tasks or resting.
Come up with ways to involve your kids in physical tasks. This way, you can be present with them and get things done at the same time.