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To Sleep or Not To Sleep – Does Mama Need Nap-time?

To Sleep or Not To Sleep…That Is The Question

Scrolling through my Facebook feed one afternoon, I read post after post from my sweet friends trying to decide how to spend a very sacred time in their day — nap-time.

They would wrestle and ask, “Do I sleep or do I get stuff done?” I don’t believe they were actually asking all of Facebook to weigh in on their life decisions, but I usually would offer my advice anyway. I simply replied, yes. Yes, get some sleep. Yes, get stuff done. These are wise women who know deep down which one is necessary on any given day. If what they are really asking for is permission, they have it. If what they are seeking is approval, they’ve got it, and so do you.

On some level I can relate. My kiddos are both graduated from high school, and I didn’t marry their dad until they were 9 and 11, so I missed these years of nap-time. However, as the years went on with the time they had left our home growing shorter and shorter, I realized just how precious the time we spent together with them actually was, and I didn’t want to miss a thing. Family dinners would last hours, and, as much as we all dreamed of it lasting forever, we knew it wouldn’t. So…late at night (actually, around 9 pm, I’m not gonna lie) my family would all head to bed, and that’s the moment where I was faced with the same dilemma. Do I sleep or do I get stuff done? It has been 8 years and I still wrestle with this.

For years when I would stay up late and check things off my to-do list, I would feel guilty. Absurd, right? I was feeling guilty about just how much stuff I was able to get done without interruption in the middle of the night. I have even had entire seasons where I was up at 4:00 am because I seemed to get so much done while my family was sleeping. I believe in part it is because I knew how precious those waking moments were, and I wanted to be fully present. I also think there is something really reassuring for a mom to know everyone is tucked in tight and fast asleep, significantly decreasing the likelihood someone might need me or interrupt me. No matter the reason, it is still my most productive time of the day. Now I am just cautious not to get my sleep schedule completely out of whack.

You see, when I was growing up, my mom took naps. Looking back I understand why, but as a child I didn’t like it. I liked my mom a lot. I liked spending time with her a lot, and, if she was asleep, I missed her. Fast forward to the first year of our marriage, and I was exhausted from working at a local church, getting a Master’s degree, cooking, cleaning, leading a college ministry, mentoring young adults, and trying to build relationships with the humans I shared a home with. It was so busy, and some days I was able to take a nap. However, I was always met with those pangs of guilt. I didn’t want to be unavailable in case someone needed me, so with each nap, each time I gave in to the exhaustion, my self-worth seemed to take a beating. I had connected my worth as a wife, mother, mentor, friend, daughter, and everything else to whether or not I took a nap, regardless of how much I needed the sleep.

I still take naps and, for the most part I do so without hesitation. I take them when my kids are at school and my hubby is at work. I take them because I can or because I need to because my waking hours are really quite epic!

Every now and then I feel those familiar guilt pangs creeping in, or I get concerned my husband will resent the fact that I am napping while he is at work. I usually text to let him know I am laying down and say a simple prayer, “God please don’t let him resent me. Please let him be so glad he is working his dream job that a nap isn’t even worth considering”. When I finally shared this with him tonight, his response was so sweet. He said that he wanted to ease my mind and let me know what he thinks when he gets my text. He said he thinks “Thank you, God, she is getting some rest. She works so hard”.

Be still my heart.

If you need to pay bills, do laundry, clean the house (for the hundredth time that day) or prepare for dinner, then do those things. Be okay with that. If you need rest, then nap. Be okay with that. Whatever you choose to do with that sacred kiddo nap-time, be okay with that. You have permission; you have acceptance, and no matter which one you choose just know that it is not tied to your self-worth.    

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