By Christina VanGinkel
Babies are wonderful things. They can turn a heart upside down and inside out with a giggle or smile. They are so innocent in their brand new lives, yet they have the power to control adults with the tiniest of cries. They are love at its deepest sense. They are a lot of work. One of a new parent's strongest struggles in dealing with their newborn is finding the time, along with the quiet, to get enough rest and sleep. It can be accomplished though. I remember having someone tell me that when my baby takes a nap, take one too, otherwise I would be no good for that infant later on when they were in need of attention and I was walking around dead on my feet. I did listen, and I did try to rest as often as I could. With my second child arriving 22 months after the first one though, this was not always an option the second time around, as a busy toddler will not take a nap but once a day, if you are lucky, and certainly not when you want them too!
I dealt with this by creating a quiet pack for those times my newborn would nap and I needed to get at least some rest, yet my toddler was eager to play. In actuality, an old backpack that had plenty of interior room to stash all the goodies I could think of, it slipped on a hangar in my closet for ease of access, and was easy to put away when quiet time was over each day, all with minimal work required. The quiet pack's contents was constantly changing, but mainly consisted of things like a coloring book with crayons, stickers, teeny bottle of bubbles(the kind you see being given away at weddings) so if it was spilled, it was not a big deal, a deck of cards, and puzzles. If I found something I thought could be played with while I was stretched out on the bed with my toddler sitting next to me, or while I was in the recliner with my toddler in my lap, it went in the quiet pack. I usually tucked a snapped lidded bowl of Cheerios in the pack each morning too, as it never failed that when I needed to lie down, my toddler would need a snack.
I only took the quiet pack out when needed, and put it away shortly after quiet time was over, usually after baby woke up and diapers were changed. This, along with occasionally changing the contents of the bag, kept it a unique enough venture that my older toddler was always ready for quiet time. While every toddler and situation is different, this is at least worth a try if you are rapidly losing the required sleep to keep up with an infant and toddler. Sleep and rest are important to both your well-being and those around you, so try to get as much rest as you can each day, and you will be surprised at how even a small break can revive you.