When you are a parent, there are so many moving parts that you don’t want to miss out on. Between making sure you have booked the children’s dental appointments to guaranteeing that the bills are paid each month, being a parent is an understandably exhausting job. To take things a step further, you have to work through getting time for yourself. This is why it is important to have a serious conversation with yourself about how to optimize your time and use it wisely. This is especially true when it pertains to naptime and bedtime. In order to have a chance at thriving as a parent, consider the best ways to optimize your time when your kids are asleep.

1. Get rid of distractions.

When you need to focus and get some work done, you already know that your time is limited. If your children are going down for a nap, you probably have one to two hours of uninterrupted time. Knowing this, it is best to completely eliminate all distractions. Now is not the time to hop on social media to scroll for a while. In fact, it is wise to put your phone in another room while you work. You can also set your timer as you get work done. Be honest with yourself regarding what your true distractions are. For some, social media is the culprit. For others, listening to a podcast can be a great way to get in the zone. Know yourself enough to know what your zone of focus really looks like. As you are working to figure it out, consider using the Pomodoro Method in order to get through the time you have without getting distracted.

2. Write it all down.

Create a running list of all the things you would like to do when the children are asleep. Whether you are looking forward to a glass of wine and reading your love horoscope or calling your HOA about an issue in the neighborhood, write everything down. When you have taken the time to create a running list, this is helpful because you can stop trying to remember every single thing.

Decision fatigue is such a real issue that weighs people down. Because they are trying to do everything and remember everything, they burn out and make bad choices. If you keep a planner nearby, you can jot a task down as you remember it. You can also use your phone to keep track of your list. Another creative option involves using a whiteboard that is specifically for your list of things to do.

3. Take a nap.

There are plenty of mothers who laugh at the idea of going to sleep when the baby goes to sleep. However, that might be one of the best times to get your rest. If you are sleep-deprived, this will definitely make you more cranky, irritable and unproductive. Try your best to get rid of the guilt that is associated with resting. If you don’t take time to rest, you are no good to anyone. If the children go down and you know you need to go down too, prepare your schedule in such a way that allows you to go down when they do. If you don’t get it all done, that is okay too. There are times when you need to remember that it’s okay if the laundry isn’t finished. While perfectly-folded laundry is nice, it’s okay if a week passes and you have rested instead of folded laundry. Your household will survive.

4. Schedule connections.

Plenty of parents feel like they are missing out on time with loved ones. Whether you are missing time with your girlfriends or quality time with one of your parents, consider using this time to connect. If you have a fellow friend who is an early bird, consider waking up a few hours before the children wake up in the morning. Meet at a local diner or invite them over for an early breakfast. If you are going to leave to go to a diner, make sure your spouse or someone else is there to watch the children while you leave.

Though parenting is challenging, it is really about being strategic and optimistic through it all. You never want to live in a space of constant frustration throughout the duration of the children’s developmental years. However, you are still a human being. With that understanding, it is best to work on striking a balance. As you use these tips when it is naptime or bedtime, you will notice a gradual difference in the way you feel and the way the household functions.

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