In Praise of the Humble Nap

I optimistically read a bit about sleep training before we had Sproggett but then he actually arrived, and a sleep routine went the way of cloth nappies, frankly.

Only recently I’ve become better at reading the cues and naps are getting to be more of a fixture in our day. I know they’re good for him, to help him get towards his daily quota of sleep and all that. I just never realised how fantastic they’d be for me.

I’m not talking about that parenting myth of “sleep while he sleeps” (because that’s when the laundry fairies and the house elves come in, when everyone is gently snoring, right?) Rather, that his daytime nap is when I get to do stuff.

I dictate emails while sterilising bottles.

I prepare client proposals at light speed, turns out I can type about 150wpm if I think I’m about to have to rescue a squally baby.

I can unload a dishwasher, load a washing machine and fold a load of tumbled laundry in the time it used to take me to have a shower.

And then, miraculously, he is still asleep. Yesterday he slept for two hours in the day. That’s fairly rare for us but is just about the best present I could wish for.

I barely knew what to do with myself.

I made myself a cup of proper coffee and drank it while it was still hot. I tidied up blogging stuff, actually read a little for pleasure. My non-parent brain switched itself back on, because I wasn’t in Mama Bear mode any more, with one eye and more than half my attention on a bub who’s not yet crawling, but spins like a top on the floor and is never where you left him for long. I could take more of an interest in the world outside for a bit (via the interflubs) and come back recharged and refreshed.

I’m far from a domestic goddess. But chaos takes over far too quickly around here. Retaining a small amount of freelance work makes me feel like I’m still contributing, without impinging on being able to spend almost all of my time with Sproggett. It also pays for the cleaner, to be honest.

After lunch I got to spend the afternoon playing with a giggling, cheery, energetic bub. Everyone was happier. Praise be to the nap.

Can you sleep when your baby sleeps?

Eat Your Books

There are times when eating books might be the only option left in this house. While Sproggett’s food requirements are pretty well taken care of – as long as you consider having bought food in stock ok – I still default sometimes to the “Oh well I’ll just run out and pick something up” mentality which isn’t quite so practical when that involved wrestling a tiny human into his coat and setting off for the supermarket while hoping he’ll maintain a decent humour throughout…

I have struggled, like many new mums do, with getting everything done. However at seven months, he’s not really a new baby. i guess what I’m saying is, I thought I’d have my shit a little more together by now.

I guess there’s buying ready meals if I’m only bothered about putting something on the table for us to eat, but as recent developments have shown that we have no idea what goes into most of those, then perhaps not. Also, they mostly taste like cardboard covered in silly string and garnished with sawdust.

So it’s time to get a bit more organised. First weapon in the arsenal? Eat Your Books.

To stem the clutter in the house, most book purchases now are for Kindle apart from my weakness which is cookbooks. But who really uses any of their cookbooks? You tend to have favourites, probably from a chef you trust (coughNigellacough) and ones which are just full of pretty pictures. I remember a stat from when I worked in publishing saying most people never cook more than five recipes from a book.

Where EYB is genius is that it recognises all of your books (as it’s been around a little while now, it had 95% of the books in my collection already indexed) and allows you to search them by occasion, ingredient or cuisine. The 50 books I’ve added to my library give me almost 8,000 recipes, which actually aren’t all for cupcakes and baked goods, hurrah! It then tells you that there are recipes for, say fish pie, in five of your books, and you get a list of the main ingredients to grab a snapshot to add to your shopping list.

Where we’ve found it useful is not only for inspiration, but for rediscovering chefs and certain books. This week we did one huge online shop based around four of Thomasina Miers’ Mexican Made Simple recipes and cooked hearty Mexican meals all week. I’ve missed cooking as much as I’ve missed eating well.

You can add five books free of charge, or $2.50 per month, $25 per year. It will also index personal recipes, blogs and food magazines. Use it to rediscover your collection and perhaps some hidden gems – and, ahem, perhaps to research those books that are missing from your shelves?!