Mommy’s Little Secret
“I don’t know how you do it,” another mom said to me as we walked away from the kindergarten playground. We’d just dropped our kindergarteners off for the day, and were walking back to our cars.
“I have one, and it’s hard enough, but you have four!” she said with disbelief and a little bit of fear, as if she was saying, “You have six eyes.”
I looked down at my baby, dangling from my arm, who, by most people’s standards, was not properly dressed for the weather. My other hand was clasping the hood of her 2-year-old sister’s jacket. I was practically choking her to ensure that she didn’t run into the street, while boogies ran directly from her nose into her mouth. I couldn’t believe this mom thought I was “doing” anything other than keeping my children alive… barely.
“I’m just surviving,” I replied. That’s my standard answer when I don’t have the time to explain that I’m as overwhelmed with the idea of my life as she is. But truth is: I do have a little secret. One that keeps me sane and is tucked right into the middle of the day: Naptime is mine.
That’s right. I have protected time. Two hours a day are reserved for things that breathe energy into my routine, into my soul. Right now I catch these hours during naptime. A few months ago I found them in the early morning hours. When they happen isn’t important, but my two self-imposed rules are: First, I must use the time doing something I can’t do (or can’t do well) when the kids are awake. And second, the activity must energize me so I can better face the rest of my day.
So every afternoon, I step over the toys on the floor, ignore the dirty dishes in the sink and remind myself that I am a multi-dimensional woman. As a part-time, work-from-home mom, I usually take the two quiet hours to work. My job requires some silence and concentration, but more importantly, it requires a different kind of creativity than I use during the other parts of my day. When I’m working, I feel a different joy than I do when I’m reading Elmo books and singing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.” I love those mothering duties, but they’re not the only things I love.
Before I was working, I often used my naptime hours to cook, a chore that relaxes me in a way that cleaning the toilet doesn’t. Sometimes my time is spent on a phone call to a friend when I’ve needed some adult conversation or even just brewing a cup of fresh coffee and reading a magazine… at my pace… without interruption.
In the moments when I wonder how I’m “doing it,” I remember that slipped somewhere in the 24 hours ahead, at least two of those hours will be dedicated to my soul care. And that’s a secret I’m willing to share.
Written by Alexandra Kuykendall