Baby and Toddler Naptime

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For babies, naptime is a chance to refresh and recharge those little batteries. But what’s the best way for you to spend those baby-free minutes?

We asked real moms, authors, and experts for their tips on how to maximize your time while Baby sleeps.

You’re #1

Not surprisingly, the most-mentioned advice had nothing to do with housework.

“Don’t forget me-time,” says Dr. Jim Sears, pediatrician, author, and co-host of TV show The Doctors. “Baby needs a happy mom much more than a clean house.”

Heather Gibbs Flett, co-author of The Rookie Mom’s Handbook, agrees. “Moms need to put on their own oxygen mask first. Ask yourself what you need to do today for yourself and do that.”

That may mean mean putting the bills, breakfast dishes, and bottles on the back burner—but not off the stove completely. “Give yourself permission to add your own name to your to-do list,” says Elizabeth Pantley, mother of four and author of The No-Cry Nap Solution; Guaranteed Gentle Ways to Solve All Your Naptime Problems. “To be a healthy, happy person, you must take good care of yourself.”

And me-time is not necessarily as selfish as you might think. Says Pantley, “You’ll have more enthusiasm and energy to be able to take care of your child when she wakes up—and everyone else, too.”

Prioritize for Productivity

Whether Baby’s nap is long or short, you’ll get more out of these precious moments if you have a plan.

“When I put Lucy down for a nap, I feel like the gunshot just went off at the beginning of a horse race. It’s like, how much can I accomplish in this brief time span of unknown duration?” says Clare, mother of eight-month-old Lucy, from Illinois. “I map out my strategy of what I want to accomplish before I put her down, and then it’s off to the races.”

Start by doing easy tasks that will set the tone for a productive day, says Dr. Jennifer Shu, pediatrician, mom, and co-author of Heading Home with Your Newborn. “Make a list and prioritize. Take a shower, fold clothes, empty the dishwasher, answer emails—small things that will clear the way for the rest of the day.”

It can help to prioritize things that help create more time and energy, too. “If you’re sleep-deprived, put your own feet up,” says Dr. Shu. “If a shower would give you more energy for the rest of the day, take a shower.”

And don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get to everything. Adds Dr. Shu, “What doesn’t get done during one nap can be the first thing for next time.”

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