Tough Days

how to nap for moms

How did I survive this past year with baby twins, a preschooler and a kindergartener?


(And the people who watched my children while I took said naps. Thank you Mayra and Mom!!)

“But I can’t nap,” you say.

I’m here to tell you that you can learn how to nap, even if naps have never worked for you.

How to be a power napper

1) Get the kids in a safe place.

Ideally this means into the hands of a babysitter, teenage neighbor, playdate, or if all else fails, an iPad.

When I was pregnant with my twins and still had two preschoolers at home, we had “quiet time” every day after lunch. My boys were so thrilled to be in their room alone with Netflix on the iPad, they never once came out to wake me up or get into trouble. I also have a very responsible older son I could trust to tell me if anything went awry.

But if you are concerned about snoozing with kids in the house, bring the youngest one into your room to watch a movie (while the oldest gets the iPad by himself in his room). You might even get your little one to wear headphones next to you while you sleep in peace.

2) Set the stage.

So ideally you are all alone in your room now. Your beloved room! Create a perfect napping environment by:

  • Making it cold and dark
  • Silencing all ringers.
  • Firing up your white noise machine
  • Popping in some earplugs (if your kids are with a babysitter)
  • Setting your alarm if you must
  • Blocking out all remaining light with a comfy eye mask.

My love of the eye mask emerged when I realized it’s a signal to my brain to shut off. Something about the weight over my eyes helps tell my mind it’s time to be quiet. I’m completely addicted to it now. This kind is my fave.

3) Let it go.

This is the part where you can start to stress that you’re not going to be able to sleep. Or you’ll start thinking about all the things you need to do. Or feeling guilty that you are spending money on a babysitter to sleep.

Everything can wait. And you have never spent your money more wisely. You are buying your health, and you are giving your children a much happier mother. This nap is going to help you make it through bedtime with a smile on your face. 

This is where you want to practice the breathing exercises you learned in yoga. If you need extra help shutting off your brain, try a relaxation app. (The one I’ve used doesn’t seem to be available anymore. I’ll update this if I find another one to recommend.)

4) Decide how long you want to sleep.

Sometimes I tell myself “I can sleep for one full hour” and I’ll magically wake up exactly an hour later.

Lately I can even nap for 20-30 minutes and get enough energy to get through the rest of the day reasonably well. If you are the type of person who feels groggy and hungover after you nap, first down a glass of water before you fall asleep, and then aim for a shorter nap.

Check out this infographic: How Long to Nap for the Biggest Brain Benefits.

5) Do not do anything else but breathing deeply and not thinking.

And hopefully the next thing you know, you’ll be waking up ready to move mountains.

But as I tell my non-napping friends, even if you don’t fall asleep after 20 minutes of lying in the dark not talking to anyone and breathing deeply, you’re going to feel better.


The morning starts just past 7am with the four-year-old blasting into my room. “It’s morning!!!” he shouts.

I look over to the baby in my bed, the one I brought in around 3am who finally fell asleep somewhere around 6. He is now flailing his arms and legs, squealing with delight. I put a movie on in my room and hope to stay in a sleep-like state for just a little longer.

The five-year-old bursts in and for about 15 minutes we all snuggle together and watch the movie. (My husband is in the nursery with our baby daughter and I’m hoping they are sleeping through all of this. Because having both of us start the day exhausted is so much worse.)

The cuddle time is short lived. As I nurse the baby boy, the big boys start to do Karate in my bed, which Drives. Me. Crazy. They ignore my warnings to stop, to sit down, to calm down. It’s barely 7:30am and I’m already yelling. I actually see my day spinning down like a tornado. It’s not even 8am and I’ve already lost.

I try to pull out of it. I change the baby. We go downstairs. I make a pot of coffee.
I have to get out of the house today, I think as I start slugging dirty laundry down to the basement. Because with four children, if I don’t keep the machines going every day, I’ll never catch up.

There’s noise from the living room. A lot of it. The tv, and the rambunctious boys, and one of the babies. And the grime. How did my house get so grimy? All I can see is the grime and I just want to get rid of it all, wipe it all away, and the baby is fussing but just one more minute I’ll be right there I’ll be right there I’ll be right there.

Oh fuck it. The bathroom is half clean and the kitchen floor is half swept and my coffee is half cold. I sit down with the baby. I try to redirect the boys. I have to get out of this house today I have to get out of this house today. How cold is it, again? How cold is too cold to take babies out? Where can I go that doesn’t involve spending money and isn’t sensory overload? I have to get out of the house today.

It’s not that I want to escape them. I want them. I want the kind of moments I have with them when it is just me and one of them. Why can’t we have those moments all together? And now the four year old is screaming the most jarring scream, big hot tears streaming down his face because yet again their rough play got too rough. I have to get out of this fucking house.

My husband wakes up and takes over for a bit.

In the shower I think of Newtown. And how those moms would give anything for this day. And that gets me through the next few hours. I clean my bathroom. I put on a skirt and a little makeup and go back downstairs.

My husband suits up the boys and takes them outside. It’s 19 degrees and there’s snow on the ground. I roll the twins’ highchairs over to the big kitchen window so they can see their brothers sledding down the hill in our backyard. The babies eat black beans and toast and cheese and apple sauce, all while watching their brothers with big huge eyes.

I make quesedillas for the boys and keep them warm in the oven so when they come inside, freezing cold, they will have a hot lunch waiting for them. Because I love them and I want them. They are just so loud so loud so loud and if I could only get out of the house.

But it’s freezing cold and finally the grime is starting to fade. After lunch, I get them to help me, the big boys. What is more exciting than spraying Windex? I soak up their remaining pre-school-ish-ness. Still such ernest cleaners they are. I try to enjoy the moment, the temporary respite from arguing and whining, without worrying about the fumes of the toxic chemicals. The babies’ lungs.

Juney dances to ukelele from britta alexander on Vimeo.

A musician friend is staying with us and he plays music constantly, which helps. My baby daughter wiggles her bum every time he picks up my ukelele. My heart melts. My boys thank me for their lunch.

The day goes on much the same. Ups and downs. Moments of calm in between meltdowns, spills, tears, grumpiness, yelling, sweetness, and all the while, little Juney shaking her bum. I catch myself counting the hours until bedtime. Then I think of the Newtown moms.

I get four loads of laundry done. My husband helps me fold. I wash at least 5 sinkfuls of dishes throughout the day. I don’t get to the vacuuming and I never get out of the house. Everyone’s kids are sick. But I do get a nap. And a string of funny texts with a good friend throughout the day.

All along I calculate, What would make this better? And usually I can see what is needed. But weekends, lately, are just so hard.

Is it because it’s 19 degrees out and our options are limited? Should we become one of those families whose kids do activities? Would it be better if we all split up? Would it be better if we all piled in the car together? Where does a family of our size even go???

I don’t get out of the house because the only thing I come up with is to go shopping, but I think going shopping would feel worse. And getting out takes so much effort. Winter. Stuck. Loud. Newtown. Painting. LEGOs. Karate. Music. Books. Babies naps all off schedule. Crying it out. Inside. All of us. Enjoy them now they grow so fast. Newtown.

Next weekend I really will get out of the house.

juney and paul

Last year was one of the hardest years of my life. But it came with so many gifts.

My twin pregnancy was the biggest physical challenge of my life.

The unexpected gift: As it turns out, my body is stronger than I ever imagined. So much stronger than my mind.

I carried my twins to 36 weeks gestation. They weighed six pounds each. And both of them came home from the hospital with us five days after they were born.

Bonus: My mom felt so bad for me she spent months at our house last year. This woman has three children and two step-children. Nothing phases her.

not afraid

I spent all of 2013 either pregnant with twins or with newborn twins.

Which meant my brain was worthless.

My short term memory? Obliterated.

I couldn’t even remember my newborn son’s name in the hospital when the nurses asked me. On multiple occasions.

atlas not his name

The unexpected gift: It forced me to release the goals I set up for my business and ignore the dirty kitchen floor while I spent most afternoons unconscious in my bed.

Note to pregnant twin moms: I promise you it’s easier to have newborns than it is to be pregnant with twins. You are experiencing the worst right this minute. It will get better. Especially after the first four weeks, which are so brutal you won’t remember them anyway.

I feel like my preschoolers were cheated out of a whole year with me.

The unexpected gift: Even though I spent every afternoon in bed, they probably saw a lot more of me than they did when I was working. And just like when I was a working mom, when I showed up for dinnertime, bath time and bedtime, I was all there. Even if I couldn’t get my belly to fit on my son’s bottom bunk for storytime.

Also, I think they’re handling it all okay.

happy boys

We were crazy stressed in the financial arena.

Providing for a family of six, plus our beloved 22-year-old au pair, is no small responsibility for my husband. When we go food shopping, we buy four loaves of bread at at time. Every trip to the grocery runs at least $300, even when we’re trying to be careful.

A trip to the pediatrician to get the twins’ ears checked for infections runs $70. We have one child in preschool, which costs more than my first year at Florida State. Even buying socks for all these kids is expensive!

The unexpected gift: We are blown away by the kindness of our friends and neighbors. We are constantly on the receiving end of bags of clothing and toys, even for our older kids. And even better is the feeling of passing these gifts on to other families when we our children no longer need them.

Another unexpected gift is that I’m dipping my toe back into work this year. Which means I get to hang out here.

EATagency hq

I’m sure I could go on, but I’m ready to MOVE ON.

Here’s to 2014. Let’s do it.


It was raining. I was in the city with the boys.

Anxiety was creeping in, along with a sadness I couldn’t wrap my head around.

“Walk,” my body said. And so I did.

I covered the double stroller with the rain shield and walked up, up, up the city streets until I reached this.


Right there in the center of the holiday bustle.

Tourists shoved their way past her to see the big tree, the ice skaters.

Basking in light from the fancy shops, the promenade angels.

Open and proud and calm, and weeping.

A steady presence.

Abiding joy.

My hero.