With schools, daycares and nurseries closed or imminently closing for many around the world, working parents are now facing juggling even more balls than before. Coronavirus/COVID-19 has hit us all hard. It’s hit working parents even harder as they face balancing work and childcare at home for the foreseeable future.
As a full time working mom to a 2-year old, I’m now up before everyone else in the house to get over an hour of quiet work done before breakfast time. Monday to Friday, my husband and I juggle work calls, urgent deadlines and inboxes full of emails, while thinking up new games and fun activities (thank you #busytoddler!), making healthy snacks and having (safe) time outdoors with our daughter. We closely watch the clock as it nears the 1pm nap time, when we get to enjoy 2 uninterrupted hours to work and reconnect with colleagues who are in similar situations.
I thank heavens for my training as a sleep consultant and worry about the sanity of parents who don’t have the luxury of peaceful, straight-forward nap breaks to get other (paid) work done. In the time of coronavirus, working parents everywhere are now faced with the challenges that were previously only worrisome at weekends: getting our children to nap. You may currently be really struggling to get your infant or toddler to nap properly/easily/happily/… [replace with your parental word of choice!]. This only adds to the immense pressure you’re under at the moment.
Naps are essential for the wellbeing of our young infants. They continue to need naps and/or quiet time until they’re at least 4 years old. Aside from giving us parents a well-needed break, naps provides the rest little ones need to recharge, reboot and process all the new things they experienced in their wake time. According to the Sleep Foundation, even adults can benefit from a 20-30 minute nap. Don’t we know it, parents!
Naps simply make everyone happy!
In the time of coronavirus/COVID-19, here are my top 6 tips for working parents to improve naps:
1. Set the mood early
Don’t rush your child straight to their bedroom at naptime. Take a few minutes beforehand to do a quiet activity to set the mood. Head upstairs when your child is calm and quiet.
2. Create a dark, quiet room
Little ones need the same environment for napping as they do for nighttime sleep. Have the room as dark as you can. If you don’t have blackout blinds or curtains, securely tape something up to the window to block out the light. If you regularly use a white noise machine to block out the external noise, use that for nap times as well.
3. Falling asleep independently
This is the holy grail of good sleep. Your child must learn to fall asleep by him/herself. The less your child needs you to fall asleep, the easier they are going to be able to fall- and stay- asleep for their naps.
4. Cap naps
As tempting as it is to let your child nap for as long as they like, it has consequences. Napping-age kids can only sleep a maximum number of hours in a 24-hour period. What is used for daytime sleep, is robbed from nighttime sleep. Sleep too much in the daytime and you may end up with your little one waking earlier and earlier in the morning (anything before 6am is too early!). No matter how much coffee you drink to solve this for yourself, your child will become super grumpy by mid-morning and naps will eventually be completely out of whack!
5. Age appropriate nap times
At least for the first year, baby and infant sleep patterns mature quickly. This means their sleep schedule needs to be adjusted fairly regularly too. Make sure they are having the correct number of naps for their age and do not exceed their maximum number of daytime napping hours. Except…. on to my next point…
6. Daycare/nursery nap times
As best you can, follow the napping schedule set by your daycare/nursery provider. They may not have set a super accurate nap schedule for your child (my 1-year old was put on a 1-nap schedule months before she was ready) but, coronavirus won’t go on forever and the transition back to your daycare provider will be much easier if you remain on the same schedule.
I hope this helps you find more headspace and time to work productively during the day. And, results in a happy and well-rested little one. If you need more structured support or a helping hand (or, in the times of social distancing, a listening ear over a video chat!), please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org)
* I am now accepting installment payment options to make life easier. For single, (tele)working moms, I am offering some free email exchanges to help ease the load – please mention this when you contact me.