Taking Advantage of Car Naps

At around 2 pm each day, I start to pry my 2.5-year-old from whatever activity she’s doing and head to the car. It’s still an hour before school pick-up for her older sister. But this is the only window of opportunity I have for my toddler to actually nap. You see, darling daughter #2 is gifted in many areas, but sleep just isn’t one of them. While my older daughter consistently took 2-3 hour naps every day until she turned 3, my younger gal never took to napping; she pretty much dropped them completely by the time she was around 20 months. BRUTAL. The only way I can get her to nap (and believe me when I say I’ve tried everything) is in the car.
It took me a while to embrace the “car nap” routine but I’ve got to say, I’m starting to enjoy it. My gal goes at about 100 mph from the time she wakes up until the afternoon school-commute. We leave our house uptown and drive the 15-20 minutes down to Shaw. Somewhere along the road, with the Moana soundtrack inevitably playing in the background, my little tot succumbs to the soothing and comforting motions of the car ride, potholes, and swerves-to-avoid-Ubers notwithstanding. 
By the time we arrive at my elder daughter’s school, my backseat companion is typically in a deep sleep. Then I have anywhere from 20 – 60 minutes (depending on my departure efficiency) to myself. Of course, this captive-audience scenario isn’t as desirable as having a child actually sleep in the house. However, there’s plenty I have found I can do (other than aimlessly scroll through social media) to take advantage of the blessed car nap situation! 

Ideas to enjoy your time during naptime

1) Books, books, more books

My reading time has increased exponentially since I decided to capitalize on the car nap. I always keep at least one book in the car with me just for these times. I’m currently reading a book on the enneagram called The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile. 

2) Practice mindfulness

Whether you take a few minutes to pray or meditate, this can be extremely calming. I find that it is a great re-set for the rest of the afternoon and evening. I use the free app Insight Timer, which has great guided meditations or the option to just set a timer for a quick DIY session. Just don’t make the mistake I did last week and set the timer for 5 hours instead of 5 minutes! Whoops. 

3) Podcasts!

Keep some headphones in your car (unless your snoozing kiddo won’t stir from the noise) and plug into your favorite Podcast. Comedy, interviews, news updates, motivational speakers or sermons, stories… the options are seemingly endless. It’s a great way to capitalize on YOU time! I’m currently loving The Read-Aloud Revival by Sarah Mackenzie, Jen Hatmaker’s For The Love, and Respectful Parenting by Janet Lansbury. 

4) Call your mom

Or that neighbor with whom you’ve been meaning to connect. Or your friend back in your hometown that you keep promising a catch-up session.  

5) Go ahead and play on your phone

If all else fails and you are bored out of your mind, work those IG or Snapchat filters and send ridiculous selfies to your other mom friends. Lord knows they need a laugh, too. 
All you fellow mamas with ridiculous non-conventional sleepers, embrace the blessed car nap if and when you can. And if you need me between the hours of 2-3:15 pm, you can find me parked downtown, relishing every (rare) moment of quiet. 
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It took Juliet a while to fall in love with DC but, a dozen years later, she wouldn't want to live anywhere else! Juliet and her fellow native New England husband have 2 school-aged girls and a toddler boy, and love raising them in this vibrant city. A former middle school teacher and marketing assistant, Juliet is currently a SAHM in NW DC, on a block happily filled with many other young families. She loves laundry day, visiting ALL the museums, reading historical fiction, eating sweets, theatre, and planning overseas adventures.