Should moms take naps? {thoughts on guilt, rest, and how to feel peppier}

There are a few groups of people I am secretly jealous of. So secretly, that I decided to post it here, on my blog. These groups are: people with really clean and organized purses, people who are tan all year long, AND…people with lots of energy. the naturally caffeinated.

I’ve always wished I were peppier, since back in the day when I tried out for cheerleading… and didn’t make it…and there were only two girls cut…and come to think of it, they probably needed a few extra cheerleaders. Apparently I was that unpeppy. I’m fine with it, really. I’m totally, totally, over it. Absolutely no remaining feelings of failure here.

But back to the topic, I just hate feeling tired, and (unlike my husband) I do not enjoy napping. Also unlike my husband, I do not enjoy going to the bathroom. Both things, I do because I have to. Men are from Mars, women are from Venus. So there you have it.

Recently, I’m feeling more tired than usual. (Sidenote – is that normal right now? My mom claims everyone feels more tired in January. Is that true?? Hmmm.) Which has led to more naps than normal, which has led me to wonder a few things:

  • Is it sometimes wrong to take naps? (Insert the sound of my husband laughing in the background.)
  • What makes you feel tired some days, and not tired other days? (Insert the broken record answer of my mother, for every. single. problem. you ever have: “It’s the hormones, honey. I promise it’s the hormones.”)
  • What should you do on days where you feel tired?
  • Why do I feel so guilty when I feel tired?

image by Leswek Nowak

A long time ago, when I was a teacher, one of my co-workers claimed his wife never, ever napped, and she listed her reason as something along the lines of “laziness doesn’t accomplish anything, blah blah blah….”

I remember thinking that this woman (if she really were a woman, and not some sort of angelic/alien creature) surely, surely developed this conviction AFTER her young children were raised. And it was still a dumb one.

Who knows what she meant, or what she actually did in the past or present. All I know is that those comments twinged in me some conflict that I have over what to do when I’m tired. As I’ve been mulling over this for a few weeks, I’ve come to a few conclusions.

  •  Naps are like donuts. Sometimes, you should say no. And sometimes, you should just thank the good Lord for all of his many blessings, and eat the whole, jelly-filled, sugar crusted, entire thing. With coffee and heavy cream.

Okay, so the analogy is a little muddled. But here’s what I’m saying. Yesterday, I was just pooped. I’m glad I rested for 20 minutes. Today I was fizzling too, but the best thing I could have done was turn on some peppy music, clean my kitchen, and write some emails. I felt much better than I would have otherwise. It’s hard to know sometimes: nap, or no? Donut, or no? Sometimes I pray for wisdom. That helps.

  • Energy is tied to attitude. Think back to college, if you doubt me. Or when you just fell in love. Of course you were tired. But you were so excited, so happy, so thrilled, you just didn’t feel tired. Life was too fun. How does this apply? Go back to college! When you’re feeling tired, ask yourself, self, am I just bored? What excites me? Think about and plan that! For me, this means when I feel myself getting that “blah,” foggy feeling, I think about the next party coming up, or daydream about the next vacation, or organize my cupboards (sad, but true). I find myself perking right up!
  • When you’re honestly just so tired, stop. But stop the right things. Here’s what I mean. On those afternoons when I’m in a foggy daze of exhaustion, usually, I end up mindlessly cleaning up the house and ignoring the kids. Hello!?! That is backwards! This week, still getting over my cold and feeling icky, in the afternoons (instead of trying to do everything at once and getting annoyed at everyone), I just played with my kids! When I was too tired to do that, I just sat down on the couch and watched them! The dishes crusted over and the laundry wrinkled, but I realized: Ty loves organizing things! And Sam actually helps him sometimes! And when Ty is excited, he does this standing-on-his-tippee-toes hop, hop that is just adorable! I realized how infrequently I do just stop and watch my kids. What a shame!
  • You can’t help your feelings. If I feel tired, I’m going to consciously fight feeling guilty on top of feeling tired. What an unnecessary load. You can’t help how you feel!
  • But you can change your feelings! Actions change feelings. Here are some things that make me feel less tired: a brisk walk, a glass of ice water, talking about something I’m excited about, eating a snack/small meal/big meal, laughing with my kids, a cup of coffee and a banana muffin, a shower, turning on music I love, planning something fun.

ps. here are some things that do NOT make me more energized: checking facebook, paying bills, complaining, thinking about all the moms who are way more productive than me, and answering a series of repeated questions from Sam.

If you’re interested in reading more, I thought this post and this one by Crystal had some good thoughts on how to feel peppier.

What about you? Do you feel guilty when you feel tired? What energizes you on those low-energy days?

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5 thoughts on “Should moms take naps? {thoughts on guilt, rest, and how to feel peppier}

  1. I am a napper and it’s easy for it to turn into a habit! Very poignant post. I am guilty of not really watching my kids too. It makes me sad but I have no idea how to stop the busyness in my head. The constant list that can never be completed.

  2. I find one of the most exhausting things in life is a string of days filled with exactly the same, exhausting things that stretches so far into the future I cannot fathom a day without all the same exhausting things in it. The cure: time off. I know, that’s not easy. But what if you had 1 hour every week where you could do whatever you wanted? Even if you have to make that hour during nap time for hubby to get on board, what if you were allowed to go to Starbucks with your book and kick back? Or what if – gasp! – you went to the grocery store BY YOURSELF!?! I know, I may be stretching things here, and maybe it’s just me . . . but if there is something to look forward to, life somehow, gets easier to take. Kinda like when we look forward to Heaven, the junk of this life becomes more bearable because we know it’s not forever.
    And guilt is a waste of energy. It will make you even tireder. You’ll never be the mom you think you should be, so be the mom God made you to be. Even if that means you’re the mom with dirty dishes in the sink.
    thoughts on naps: Will the nap make you a better mom today? WIll missing the nap make you worse? Are you wanting a nap because you are lazy or because you are tired? FYI: if you have more than one kid under the age of 5, you are tired. Probably all the time.
    You know how the airline always tells you to put the oxygen mask on yourself and then help someone else? Well, same principle here. If Mom is too tired, not well fed, not stimulated, then everybody suffers.

    • I loved this post, Jessica… and I loved Jenn’s response too! “You’ll never be the mom you think you should be. So be the mom God made you to be.” This is Great advice! And the airline oxygen mask is a perfect analogy:)

  3. Hey! I remember that Co-worker saying that thing about his wife never napping. I think about it all the time!!!! (guilt, guilt, guilt). I almost always feel guilty napping 😦

    I liked your PS!

  4. I agree with the others that if you have multiple young kids, you are probably truly tired and should not feel guilty. There is tons of research out there demonstrating your diminished capacity on many levels when you don’t get enough sleep. My rule of thumb is just to limit the naps such that it doesn’t affect your night time sleep – if you end up staying up later or having a hard time sleeping well at night, you’re napping too much (either too often or for too long). If not, then you probably needed it and the rest of your family and everyone else you know will probably thank you for being a kinder person 🙂 Maybe that’s just me… Good post though – napping used to make me feel guilty, too – now I’ve just accepted that I can’t do it all and I’m okay with not being super mom. Just today, Titus said to me, “Mom, I hope you have a good nap and sweet dreams while I play.” And I just think that’s sweet 🙂 I find that if I can take 15-30 minutes (sometimes more) to read and/or sleep each afternoon, I am much more refreshed and capable the rest of the day.

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