As a mother of four (BOYS no less), I like to think of myself as a sleep expert. No, not the kind of expert that can get your kid to sleep through the night (HA! News flash: kids that sleep through the night are mythical creatures like unicorns!) No, I am an expert of a much more precious kind of sleep: MY sleep. A mama who is short on sleep is a very, very scary thing. You need to grab each little tidbit of loveliness whenever and wherever you can. Sleep like nobody is watching. Please, for the love and safety of your family, read on.
There are 5 potential strategies for napping on the sly:
1. SLEEP WHEN THE CHILDREN SLEEP
Any new mother has heard this laughable lil nugget of advice ad nauseum. Nurses, Doctors and wise mother hens will heap this advice on by the shovelful. I honestly believe this advice is given to new moms to ease the guilt when you pass out midday whether your kids are sleeping or not. There is slight merit in this strategy if: a) you only have one child and b) that one child is prone to occasional bouts of napping. The fateful arrival of child #2 (and subsequent children) is a game changer. These tiny little people are incredibly crafty. Through some unspoken agreement they will forge a rock solid schedule to ensure that at least one of them is awake at all times, 24 hours per day. It must be some residual evolutionary instinct to ensure someone is always on watch in case a sabre tooth tiger struts into camp at 05:00 hours but holy-hell is it ever annoying.
FACT: Kids don’t sleep. (Little creeps).
My own mother has regaled us with her own experience as a child in this department. When my dear GG was a young mother she would put her brood of 6 down for an afternoon nap (my own mama included). GG would then fall into a deep, restful sleep and the 6 stealthy children would tiptoe outdoors for all kinds of wild adventures sans adult supervision. This arrangement came to a head when they caught a gopher in a toque and released the wily beast under the covers with GG. Take heed parents: your children may be pulling the wool over your eyes if you think they are sleeping while you are.
PRO TIPS: If you are going to attempt to nap when the children nap, perhaps you should invest in a back up strategy just in case. Lock the door. Hide the combustibles and knives. Turn on cartoons. Leave a dish of water out on the floor.
2. HIDE AND SLEEP
This is one of my personal favourites. If they cannot find you, they cannot wake you. I would not attempt this method unless Dad is home, and/or you have a very responsible toddler in charge. Find a cozy sleeping place and sneak off when nobody is looking. My prior sleeping spots include the guest bed, a lawnchair, the camper, a hammock and the top bunk in the kids room. They will never think to look for you there! HA HA SUCKERS!
PRO TIPS: Don’t gloat to your husband when you pull this one off or he will wise up to your strategy and watch you like a hawk. Also, if the unmentionable tragedy of being found out does occur, be prepared to abandon that hiding spot forever. You will need a new spot. For example, next time you tip toe away for a mid-afternoon snooze fest you will be sure to hear little voices hollering “LETS GO CHECK THE TOP BUNK! Also a good idea: invest in a sturdy bunk bed with a quality mattress 😉
3. “I WAS JUST FOLDING LAUNDRY!”
FACT: Nobody can fault you for falling asleep from sheer exhaustion of being an awesome mother.
Find yourself a comfy spot on the couch. Set a laundry basket in front of you. Fold a few things and set them around you so it looks like you really did intend to do something productive. Drape a nice warm towel fresh out of the dryer over yourself and check out of the concious world. Bliss! This is a real win-win strategy. If your hubby stumbles upon you comatose with evidence of your domestic goddessery strewn about he will likely tenderly smooch your nose and say something like “Poor button! You’ve been working so hard today! Why don’t you go to bed early and I will bath the kids”. SCORE!!!!
PRO TIPS: There are certain domestic chores that should not be used with this approach. ie. stirring a bubbling vat of chili, cleaning a toilet, grinding meat, painting.
Despite your best efforts there may be no way to silence the masses enough to catch a little covert R&R. Fear not, I have an answer for you. Load your roiling brood into your minivan (of course you have a minivan – you’re a MOM after all). Ensure children are fed, watered, changed into dry diapers and used the potty. Make sure all the kidlets are strapped safely into their car seats. Head out to the nearest construction site (I have boys remember). Park where the kids can enjoy the awesome machines at work. Put your seat back and catch some much needed zzzzzzzs while the half pints squeal in glee at the site of mammoth real life Tonka trucks.
PRO TIPS: Do not park near a school zone or playground if you have a creepy mustache or sunglasses. Someone might call the cops. Good luck explaining your van full of kids then!
Note: In the case of young females I am not much help. I used to be one (young, that is. I am still female) but I sure don’t know what they are into. Princesses? Fairies? Pink ponies? I have no clue. Good luck finding some shit to entertain them by the side of the road.
5. PLAY DEAD
If you have attempted strategies 1 through 4 without success there is one last approach you may attempt. I have picked this one up from my brother. Lay on the floor. Slow your pulse and take random, shallow breaths. Do not respond to any stimuli. The kids may kick at you or prod your eyeballs but you must remain committed to your role as corpse. After some time the children will lose interest in you. This is not the most comfortable sleeping arrangement, but when you are terribly exhausted it just doesn’t matter anymore.
PRO TIPS: This is especially convincing when you are on day 4 of not getting to have a shower. You will look and smell the part.
I hope this has been highly educational and motivating for you. I know these tips have changed my life and I hope they bring you a scrap of hope. Good luck!