I was browsing a parenting forum the other day when I saw what appeared to be a sincere response to a stay-at-home-mom's lament that she was thoroughly exhausted. "Can't you just nap whenever you want?" the person wrote. "I mean … you're at home." Another commenter chimed in, a little angrily: "Yeah, it's not like I get nap time at work."
The question of napping sort of stuck with me for some reason. I'm at home with my kids and I've been known to lie down on the job now and then. If they're watching their afternoon cartoons and my work is mostly done, I sometimes stretch out on the couch with a book for a while. But the ability to briefly unplug is a recent phenomenon. As anyone with very young children knows, napping during the day is virtually impossible -- and even now that they're older, it's not exactly a guaranteed side benefit of being a SAHM.
First things first: it's true that in most cases it's easier for a SAHM to lie down during the day than it is for someone who works outside the house. I remember trying to deal with my crippling second trimester headaches when I was pregnant and working, and slinking around the building looking for an empty office where I could collapse on the floor for just two minutes while I waited for the OB-approved pain medication to kick in. Plus, plenty of people work on their feet all day long. I can see how from their perspective, the complaint of being tired from someone who spends their day just inches from a great variety of reclining surfaces sounds a little silly.
However, there's the small matter of the children that you're home with. That, in a nutshell, is why SAHMs can't nap whenever they feel tired. "Oh, I'll just take a load off so I can catch up on the sleep I missed last night," you think, taking advantage of a brief moment of peace in your household. You close your eyes, and immediately, your crawling infant proceeds to eat twelve rocks, a fist-sized clump from the cat litter box, four electrical cords, and the downy innards of a sofa pillow. Meanwhile, your toddler figures out how to turn on the stove, call Hokkaido with your phone, empty a ten-pound bag of enriched flour all over the kitchen, and use your favorite lipstick to draw REDRUM on the bathroom mirror.
Just saying, napping while small children are awake? Not a great idea.
You could nap while they're napping, but that sucks too, because:
• There's a towering mountain of laundry threatening to engulf the entire house and if you don't deal with it today it'll probably crush you in your sleep.
• You've got two phonecalls to make, a guy coming to look at the heater, a freelance project deadline looming into view, and there's a banana mashed into the DVD slot.
• A kid's naptime is like clocking out for break, sort of. That's your one window to enjoy a hot cup of coffee, shower, eat breakfast/lunch, read five pages of the book that's been gathering dust on your bedside table, send an email, or just stare glassily into space for a few minutes.
Those are just some random examples, but my point is, the reason SAHMs can't nap whenever they want is because their shit is busy. You don't get a paycheck or vacation days or retirement benefits, but by god you've got work to do.
(Plus, everyone knows how napping with children works: the instant you start falling into the blissful restorative part of sleep, they wake up. It NEVER fails.)
If you're a SAHM, do you ever nap during the day?
Image via Kota Shivaranjan/Flickr