There are three things that are certain in life: death, taxes, and parents being fucking exhausted. As soon as your offspring emerges from the womb, your life as a parent becomes one of little to no sleep; I’ve been tired for three and a half years.
Kids have all the energy in the world. Sometimes it feels like their body just naturally produces crystal meth because they’re all over the place and rarely stop. Between the long nights in the baby stage to the just continuous chasing that goes on during the toddler stage almost any parent is just always dragging ass.
A rare few can function at 100% on less than ideal sleep. My dad wakes up at like 4:30 a.m. naturally after staying up late and just powers through work like a champ. I’m like 90% sure he’s just a Terminator that decided to be a CPA instead of kill John Connor. The rest of us, we gotta get those extra Zs in any way we can. You’ve gotta get your dad naps.
Remember growing up when you’d be sitting in the living room with your old man or your grandpa and they’d seemingly start snoring mid-conversation? That’s the pro dad nap. I used to laugh when either of my grandpas would seemingly pass out (again my dad is a fucking cyborg who doesn’t require sleep), but now I just realize that they were staying ahead of the game.
I rode the sleep struggle bus for the longest time when I was indoctrinated into the world of fatherhood. Pre-child, I was still in college and therefore able to stay up late and sleep until 1 p.m. Night owl life has always been my thing, and I’ve never been much of a morning person so that adjustment truly still has a ways to go.
Throughout my sleep deprivation journey, perfecting the craft of the dad nap has been essential for survival. Kids are 24/7; as I mentioned previously their energy level is only matched by crack heads; you’ll never ever be at 100% again, but you’ve gotta do everything you can to tip the scales somewhat in your favor. That’s where the dad nap becomes a key to success.
As I pointed out earlier kids rarely stop moving, but when they do, you’ve gotta pounce on that stillness like a lion on a gazelle. Now a dad of a small child can’t just sit down on the couch and rest those eyes whenever he pleases. Two minutes of sleep with an active child in the background likely means your kitchen is on fire and that kid is playing with a chainsaw that you didn’t even know you owned. No, one must be more tactical when engaging in a brief snooze. That kid has to be focused on an activity that offers little to no danger whatsoever.
Gotta know your kid’s weaknesses. For instance, if I need at least 15 solid minutes of a kid having his ass glued to a chair with no risk of him coming into contact with flammable or sharp objects, I’m throwing on Toy Story. As soon as Woody and Buzz start their on-screen hi-jinks I’m tipping my head back and falling instantly into some heavy REMs like only a dad who hasn’t gotten a good night’s sleep since Obama’s first term can.
What makes one a master of the dad nap isn’t just finding a way to manipulate your child’s attention span into hitting the brakes on their high-octane lifestyle and subsequently being able to fall asleep instantaneously. Any schmuck can pass out in a recliner. A true dad nap king has that 6th sense that they just can’t teach you in What To Expect When You’re Expecting.
No child is staying still for an extended period. It’s just not in their DNA. No matter how much they’re into the movie, or the tablet, or whatever else you bribed their attention span with, eventually they’ve gotta be on the move. Yeah, that movie is great, but the voice in the back of their head says “I’d be there’s some cool shit to play with if we can break into the kitchen sink.” The key to the good dad nap is that spidey sense of when to end it.
I may be in a deep tunnel of nap, grogginess and shitty tasting mouth included, but the second my kid gets on the move again I snap out of my slumber like a pro’s pro. Ideally, I’ve knocked back at least a few minutes of quality recharge time and am ready to chase after my offspring in his next endeavor. A master of the dad nap strives to get a little more sleep in the system and put some more space between themselves and body shutdown due to total exhaustion. .
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