Mornings can be a blur. Breakfasts eaten, teeth brushed, pajamas off, clothes on, snacks packed, diapers changed, and (most days) time spent out of the house at playdates or running errands.
Afternoons are usually the opposite. They often seem to drag on and on and on. Once we hit 5:00, I KNOW that Daddy will be downstairs soon, for the blessed routine of dinner-baths-bedtime, but those few post-nap hours can last FOREVER. Is any hour longer than the 4 o’clock hour? I don’t think so.
But naptime? That’s my time. I’m lucky enough right now that Nolan, currently on a three-nap-a-day routine, usually takes his second nap at the same time that Caden and Brooklyn go down for theirs. Unless someone's schedule is really off, there is absolutely no one demanding anything of me during those moments. But the clock has started ticking.
It starts with lunch. I'm usually starving by the time everyone is finally down. Breakfast is barely a memory and despite all my best intentions, I usually haven't had a chance to eat much of anything for several hours. It's also the only meal I have each day all to myself. No jumping up to refill plates, sop up a spilled (er, thrown) glass of milk, negotiate over taking just "one more bite" of veggies or a protein instead of cheese or carbs, or listen to the endless chitter-chatter of a couple of two-year olds. Plus there ain't a person in this world who doesn't need a break after putting three small children to sleep. It's quiet. It's simple - usually just leftovers from the night before, or a fried egg with toast and an avocado. It's pretty quick. No more than 15-20 minutes, tops.
I move on to clean up. Wash up the lunch dishes, pick up the toys that haven't made it to the appropriate bin or shelf (read: ALL OF THEM), wipe down counters, sweep floors, bake bread or start any other prep necessary for that night's meal, assess the state of laundry. I need this general tidying up out of the way before I can move on to anything else. Clutter and I do not get along very well. In The Hunger Games, "beauty base zero" is described as a very natural state of beauty, looking "flawless but natural": hair washed and brushed but not styled, very minimal makeup. This is what I do to our home during this time (okay, "flawless" might be a bit generous here). Usually another 15-20 minutes goes by, as I adjust our home back to it's own beauty base zero.
Next comes a bigger task. Depending on the day it could be bathrooms, floors, or a scrub-down of the entire kitchen. A shopping list for the next day. Occasionally it's an errand or phone call that needs to be made. Something that really needs to be done, but wouldn't get done unless I really force myself to. Having set days to clean certain areas of the house helps. So does listening to podcasts that are funny or mommy-focused (or even better: both!). Sometimes these tasks take 15 minutes, more often it's 30 minutes to an hour. Hopefully this gets completed before the kids wake up.
On the best days, there is time left. All three kids are still out. If I haven't already poured myself a glass of water or, more often than not these days, a cup of coffee, I do that. Maybe eat another bite (something with chocolate, hopefully). I sit. Read a book or a page in my devotional. Catch up on this blog or photo-editing. I should probably move this step up in the routine. It's so hard when there are so many other things to be done. It's hard to force myself to sit and rest and recharge myself BEFORE completing the things that "really" need to be done. Sometimes, very occasionally, when the night was really rough, the morning too early, the toddlers too whiny, or everyone just too dang clingy, this might be all that gets done during naptime. And, however long I get, this step never seems quite long enough.
Reset, reset, reset.
Naptime, I will mourn your loss when you disappear. Or when Nolan moves to a two-nap schedule, which will probably perfectly sandwich Caden and Brooklyn's lone nap of the day (joy!). Right now, I love my reset hour. Resetting the house to a mostly-livable state is such a nice way to start the post-nap afternoon. Resetting myself with food and (hopefully) a break helps the afternoon seem to not drag on quite so long. Having time where it's quiet is such a welcome break to have in the middle of the day.
Here's hoping you get your own chance to reset today, mamas.