When I found out there is a National Nap Day my first thought was: That’s hilarious. I mean, in all honesty, the only time you could ever consider scheduling a day dedicated to naps came far prior to the days of motherhood, career, wife, etc. You get the picture.
My second thought was: Go take a Hike!
No, seriously, go for a hike.
In my time hiking with kiddos I have learned so much. Sunscreen will eventually ooze all over in at least one pocket of your pack, you will eventually forget the snack back in the car, there is never a bad sight when your child is in the realms of nature, and (one of my all time favorites) hiking can completely exhaust your children while fully energizing yourself!
Here’s how I make “National Nap Day” happen
There are three different categories of “needing a nap” in my house. A mother who is just plain struggling to keep her energy up, a 4-year-old who becomes very needy and sensitive, and a 1-year-old who stops every 10 feet to rest his head on anything soft nearby.
Typically, the solution for each category is as follows: Mother re-heats her coffee for the sixth time that day, 1-year-old is wrangled into the crib where he can finally rest unbothered by the rumpus of his older brother, and older brother is sent to his room for some quiet time that involves reading, puzzles, and eventual snoozing on the middle of the floor.
I believe that a holiday brave enough to call itself “National Napping Day” deserves a special nap routine. I give you the “Take a hike” nap. On the days that I plan to use a hike to its full napping potential I revolve around the most consistent napper in the house: the baby. In order for this to work, I aim to arrive at the parking lot of a hike about 15 minutes before a typical nap time. In my case this is 9:45. That 15 minute window gives me time to gear up the pre-schooler (water, hat, sunblock, random little toy that we couldn’t leave the house with that day), load up the baby (hat, sunblock, snap into pack), and head to the trailhead.
Breaking it Down
There is just something about the rocking of a mother’s (or father’s) stride, the sound of shoes on dirt, and the chirp of nature that seem to lull many babies to sleep in a pack. There have been times where I have been able to steal an hour-long nap for the baby while hiking. While baby brother naps, I get the chance to soak up some one on one time with big brother on the trail. His excitement leads the way up, over, under, and across every which way. He really enjoys the hikes where he can be in charge and the adventure is about his curiosities of the moment. Soon, I can see that big brother is beginning to wear down as well and this is when we make our way back to the car. Both boys will usually get a snack before loading into the car.
My 4-year-old will talk about the hike we just took on the drive home. He asks questions about what we saw throughout our journey or where our next one will take place. His turn for a nap comes when we arrive back home. I can see the weariness in his slightly droopy eyes and his freshly sun kissed cheeks. In his room, I lay him into his bed and turn on some quiet music. He will tell me once or twice that he is not tired. It never fails, he is asleep before the first song has finished. A post hike nap can last up to 2 hours around our home, which is something I like to call: Success.
Reflections of Success
As I return to sit with the baby, giving him his moment of one-on-one time, I reflect on the hike we got to take today. The endorphins from the hike give me the energy boost I needed, as if I was able to take my own little nap. Knowing that I have created a connection with my boys over nature and all of its beauty and joy gives me peace. With that I feel rested, ready for the remainder of the day.
A near perfectly timed hiking nap for the baby. An exhausted 4-year-old snoozing away. A mother that feels refreshed. That is taking full advantage of National Napping Day.