The Nap

23 05 2012

I told my friend the other day I had a scientific treatise on nap-taking.

She thought I was joking.

Napping, for adults, is serious business.

(Napping for infants and children is serious business also, but that is another discussion for another post.)

Many of the things I’ve learned about napping coming from my father, a man who for the past thirty-some-odd years has come home at noon every day to kiss my mother, eat his lunch, and take a nap.

So with props to you, Dad, I now present the proper way to take a nap.

The setting of my latest nap--on top of the bed, next to my son's Lego garage (not pictured).

I work within specific nap parameters which are closely linked to scientific principles. (Um, just trust me on that, okay?) Before you close your eyes, answer these questions:

What time is it? If it’s after two ‘o clock, you’re better off figuring out a way to stay awake rather than catch up on your zzz’s. Napping later than two can disrupt your nighttime sleep schedule, which I do not advise.

How much time do you have to nap? There are two categories of naps (which I made up–again, through trial and error, so you don’t have to. You can thank me later.): The Long Nap and The Power Nap.

Our bodies continually go through a cycle of introductory sleep, deep sleep (also called REM sleep, if you want to get technical), and then back through lighter sleep. You can mirror it to your exercise: warm-up, aerobic exercise, and cool-down. To cut back on the bleary-eyed crankiness that surfaces when waking from a nap, try to time your naps to wake up while you’re still in introductory sleep, or after you’ve cooled down. That way, you feel refreshed instead of like someone has cleaned out your eyeballs with a scouring pad.

A typical sleep cycle is 90 minutes. Too much shorter than that and you wake up in the middle of a sleep cycle, feeling muddled. Too much longer, and you’ve dived in to another sleep cycle and it will be difficult to wake up.

If you are feeling especially tired and have the time, go for a long nap. If you don’t have that much time, 20 minutes is ideal for a power nap.

Where is a good napping place? I prefer to nap on my bed, although my dad always liked the couch for his naps. Choose a spot that is comfortable, relatively quiet, and dark-ish. It doesn’t have to be as dark as night, but it helps to not have the sun blazing across your face.

Once you’ve decided you’ve got time to nap, what type of nap you’ll be having, and where you’re going to do it, you’ll want to do a few other things to be able to get the most out of it.

First, use a blanket. If it’s too hot, use a sheet. Having some sort of cover over your entire body anchors you to your napping surface and tells your brain to shut off.

Second, take off your shoes. You’ve decided to give yourself this little indulgence, so allow your body to fully relax.

Third, set a timer. There were many years my mom would send one of us to wake up Dad when the microwave went off, but now he’s got a portable Pampered Chef timer that he can take with him. I use my cell phone. Whatever you use, make sure you use it. While using a timer may seem to take the spontaneity out of napping, it helps The Nap keep its inherent promise: waking refreshed. In saying that, I am assuming two statements are true: You take a nap because you feel tired; You do not take a nap to wake up more tired.

And so my little nap-padawans: go forth and nap correctly, wake refreshed, and conquer the world.

A Long Asterisk

17 05 2012

This morning on Facebook, I posted, “I love being a mom” as my status.

Directly after that, though, I had to comment on my own post and say how even though I always love my kids, I don’t always love being a mom, but today was a good day.

Why did I feel like I had to do that?

I’ve been asking myself that question all day.

I think it’s because I don’t want people to think that there is continuously a rainbow over my house and the sound of singing voices tripping out the doors.

No small woodland creatures come and help with the housework.

“Yes, Mother,” is not something I hear often.

(Or ever. I go by “Mom.”)

Parenting is hard. Way harder than I thought it would be. Is there anything so emotionally, physically, and mentally draining than caring for other human beings? No. No, there is not.

But today, as I cut a pancake for someone else’s mouth, as I tickled a leg that was sticking outside the blankets, as I hugged and kissed and prayed them on their way, I was grateful. Grateful to be this person here, the one who gets to give “Back hug for Mom” to my youngest, the one who gets to do twirls and make up silly songs with my girls, the one who gets to talk about what will and what will not poison a person with my oldest.

I’m so grateful I get to be here, now.

It’s not a bad gig, all told. Especially when no one’s bodily fluid is found in places it shouldn’t be.

Just Call Me Sue

9 05 2012

A couple of weeks ago, Eden found the Halloween make-up and gave Rainbow some freckles. And not just any freckles . . . rainbow freckles. Naturally.

The next morning, I offered to help her wash them off.

“No, thanks,” she said. “I’m going to wear them to school.”

A boy in her class “didn’t recognize” her, and so called her “Sue” the whole day.

Ah, to be in second grade again.