Myth Busted: Stay-At-Home-Moms Can't Nap Whenever They Feel Like It

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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

back-to-work, time for mom, work, baby sleep

36 Comments

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Carlydh Carlydh

OMG as a former SAHM it actually shocks me that anyone would assume we can nap whenever we want. Are you KIDDING? With an actual live human to keep alive all day?? Not happening. Meanwhile when I was in my 20's and careering my ass off I could shut my office door, take my phone off the hook and actually get a few minutes of sleep if I'd had too much fun the night before. Solo parenting all day is no joke.

redK8... redK8blueSt8

I wasn't able to nap during the day until the kids were in school. When they were little though, yeah right!! My kids were/are super well behaved, but they're still kids and kids are curious, uncoordinated, clever, quick, messy, and did I mention curious? It was a whirlwind enough when I was awake paying attention and keeping them from getting into what they shouldn't be getting into. Leave them basically unsupervised because I'm blissfully unconscious in lalaland, no thank you!

nonmember avatar kaerae

Ha! I did it all the time, it's the part I missed most when I went back to work! Snuggle up with the little guys, put on a mellow show, and snooze the afternoon away...I miss those days! Grandchildren please!

Angel... AngelSinger

I'm a SAHM, and yeah, you can't nap whenever you want (if only). 

Leslie Weimer

I would sleep all day if I could, but I do not. my daughter sleep from 10pm to 10am. three hour nap. she been doing since she was nine months. she is now 2 1/2 and 37inches. I have four jobs. if it cool out and she is asleep. I will nap. my sleep is more important than my housework. I clean all week. I always pick something up. laundry everyday and it dryers outside. I will clean the house really good on my day off.

justa... justamom272

HELL NO! Who has time? I have a 5 year old who decided she does not take naps anymore, a 3 year old who gets woken up by the 5 year old, and a 7 month old who gets woken up by the other two. It is impossible on top of making breakfast, lunch, an dinner. Also being a full time student. Then i have to fit in husband time when he gets home from work lat at night. I am not complaining at all, but the people out there that think we get to sleep and sit around all day, walk in someone elses shoes for a day!

Paws84 Paws84

I have a 7-month old at home with me, no I don't get to nap whenever I want. There's things that need to be done around the house, errands to run, and my working out is a priority to me. She's on a schedule so her nap times are, for the most part, set so if I'm absolutely exhausted, then yes, she and I will cuddle on the floor on a blanket and I'll fall asleep with her. But usually I do other things while she sleeps.

nativ... nativemama18

2month old doesn't sleep unless I'm next to her if I can manage to sneak away without her waking up I take a shower or clean and she is teething early so she doesn't sleep long

Zenezzy Zenezzy

A serious napper can nap whenever she or he wants in any circumstance.  I can wrtie when I nap (I learned how to in college) but it is unlegible.  Of course sometimes there are disasters when I wake up from naps.

Knitt... KnittyTina

Napping during the day?  That's hilarious!


One of my first jobs was cashiering at a store and due to some law, they made us take breaks and lunches.  OMG, I wish someone was here MAKING me take two 15 minute breaks and a half hour for lunch.  I also miss commuting to work....ahhhh, an hour there and an hour back all by myself listening to MY music while enjoying my travel mug of hot coffee.  Now that's what I call quality alone time.

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