Getting your baby on a regular nap schedule can be a trying experience for even seasoned parents. Not all babies nap the same; we all have the friend whose baby sleeps for a full hour, every two hours, like clockwork (I see you, Karen) but once you’ve established a sleep schedule with your little one, you can start developing your own naptime schedule. There are lots of ways to spend naptime (getting some extras zzz’s yourself is right up there) but between cleaning, doing laundry it’s important to take some time out for you. Whether you have a full hour or just a few minutes, try these tips below for great ways to pamper yourself during naptime.
Ten Minutes or Less
With some kids, you just never know how long you’re going to get. A few minutes here and there, however, is all you need to get some much-needed Me-time. DIY facial massage takes just a few minutes and is a quick way to reduce stress. Start by massaging your neck just under the jawline using your fingertips and making wide circles. From there move to your cheeks, keeping the same wide circular motion with a light touch starting near your ears and moving inwards towards your nose. Move your fingertips upwards to your temples and make the circles a bit smaller, massaging for about one minute. Finish with wide and light circles from your eyebrows to just under your eyes. Repeat if you have time for further relaxation, as an added bonus all the circulation will make your skin look brighter and less puffy!
If you simply need to breathe and get centered, a few moments of meditation is a great way to relax. Many view meditation as a process, but there is no “wrong way” to meditate. Sit on your bed, in your favorite chair or on the ground if that’s comfortable. Close your eyes and focus on your breath, this will help you relax. Think about how your body is feeling; do you have any aches or pain? Are you feeling anxious? Don’t worry about solving these problems, just sit and think about how your body and mind are feeling. If your mind starts to wander, don’t worry! Just come back to focusing on your breath and centering yourself. That’s it! It can seem like you’re not doing anything but meditating just two to five minutes a day can help with everything from anxiety, sleep issues, headaches and high blood pressure.
Fifteen to Twenty Minutes
Nothing can help soothe sore muscles like a nice, long hot bath. But there are other ways to get the same type of relief if you don’t have the time to luxuriate in a relaxing soak. A heating pad can offer lots of relief when you have less than thirty minutes to treat yo’ self. There are lots of ways to make a homemade heating pad but the easiest one just requires a sock (clean preferably!) a bag of rice and a few minutes in the microwave. Wrap the sock around your neck or lower back and feel your muscle pain soften. Or, invest in an old school heating pad so that you can have around the house for when you get a minute!
Make a phone date with a good friend. Unexpected calls when you’re busy can feel stressful, but setting aside time to talk to friends can reduce your anxiety level. Studies show that maintaining contact with close friends can lower blood pressure, help problem solve and improve mental health overall. Plan to have a fifteen-minute chat with a close friend or family member once or twice a week, not about anything special just a catch-up or even indulge in some fun gossip about your favorite celebrities. Whatever you do, don’t settle for text; having a real conversation can release oxytocin in the brain which stimulates the same good feelings you have when bonding with your baby.
The idea of scouring the paper or starting a new book is daunting for a lot of new parents, so let someone else do the work while you relax! Try subscribing to podcasts that run at under twenty minutes, so you can catch up on current events or have someone read to you for a change while relaxing on your couch. Coffee House Shots gives you the latest headlines in an espresso sized serving, pop culture in fifteen minutes or less. Song Exploder is great for audiophiles who want to know how songs go from inspiration to production, this podcast runs about twenty minutes per episode. If you have just a few minutes, Spark gives people the chance to tell funny, fascinating sometimes heartbreaking personal stories in just under five minutes.
The top of the at-home relaxation pyramid is a soak in the tub if you think you’ve got about thirty minutes. Don’t worry too much about bath time prep (forget the candles and Enya) just focus on soothing your muscles and having a moment to decompress. No bath bombs or facial masks on hand? No worries! Look no further than your own kitchen to moisturize skin and create a more luxurious experience. Grab some honey, milk, and oatmeal and get the bath started. Pour about a cup of milk in the water and a tablespoon of honey directly under the spout so that it distributes evenly. Pour oatmeal into a bowl with milk and mix well, once in the tub put the oatmeal mask over your face, neck, and chest. The honey and milk bath will help soothe irritated skin and encourage skin cell renewal, while the oatmeal will unclog pores and stimulate blood circulation. You can put the oatmeal directly into the tub, but it does require some extra clean up later. It may seem silly at first to bathe in what feels like a bowl of porridge, but give it a try. It’s a cheap and easy way to restore your skin while you relax.
However you choose to spend the time remember naptime can be restorative for you and your baby. Finding ways to relax shouldn’t cause you additional stress, a few moments here and there to focus on your well-being will help you be more focused and energized throughout the day. Remember for sleep time everything but your baby should be cleared from the crib, a few more tips on sleep safety here.