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Naptime was a sacred time of day when the kids were younger. This was especially true when Taz, my now 11-year-old son, was just a toddler. That kid knew how to party! He would be up and running the moment he woke up in the morning, keeping me on my toes when he discovered that he was, in fact, faster than Mommy.

He could undo the latch on the front door in the blink of an eye, climb over his child gate with the greatest of ease, and make his whole bed into a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before I could say, "Would you like milk with your blankets?"

So when Taz would crash in the middle of the day for a blessed two hours, I performed my own personal happy dance before diving head first into whatever I could do on my minivacation from being a mom.

Most of the time this meant I took a nap. But, as every mom of a toddler knows, taking a nap during the kids' naptime feels like an awful waste. When the whole day is spent chasing after and occupying them so they stay out of the condiments, that two-hour break becomes the only chance to actually be productive. While it's tempting to nap every time your toddler goes to sleep, think of it instead as a golden opportunity to get your priorities done much faster than if the wee ones are clamoring for your attention.

With the help of some friends, here are a few ideas on what to do when your kid goes down for their nap.

Keep on top of the to-do list. "I catch up on paperwork for the day-care, Pampered Chef and Girl Scouts," Joelynn McIntosh of Glen Ellen said, describing the duties she holds that are hard to attend to while her 1-year-old son, Ethan, is awake. After all her work is done, she catches up on her TV watching. If you have a significant amount of time to spare while your child is down for the count, consider using it for the things that need your full attention, like paying bills, catching up on email, or throwing yourself into a project you've been meaning to start but never seem to have the time for.

Make the house sparkle. OK, sparkle might be too strong a word. But this is a great time to get a handle on that laundry that's building up in the bedroom, taking care of the ring around the tub, or to start dinner.

One cookbook that has become my personal kitchen bible for meal planning is "The Naptime Chef," by Kelsey Banfield. She shares ideas for gourmet meals that are both easy to make and delicious, utilizing the kids' naptime to start preparing the meal. Even though my kids are now well past naptime (sort of ??? I do have teenagers, after all, who love their after school snoozes so they can stay up super late), I break out this cookbook every week when planning my meals.

Do nothing. "Sometimes, I would just sit and do absolutely nothing. That was always the best choice," said Jeney Pribyl of Santa Rosa. When the kids are running around driving you wild with their never-ending energy, what is it you wish you could do most? Nothing! Of course, if sitting and staring at a blank wall seems like it might get old after a few minutes, do something for you that is purely selfish and not about getting things done.

Draw a bath and read a book in the tub. Garden without fear of your flowerbed getting trampled on. Throw on an exercise DVD and pump yourself up. Put on a movie and snuggle up on the couch.

Or even take advantage of a little alone time with your spouse.

The biggest tip to remember is to plan out your child's naptime. Before their head hits the pillow, think of the things you hope to accomplish by the time they wake up and require your undivided attention.

If your child takes only a short nap, plan for short activities, like reading a magazine or eating a complete meal. If they still take longer naps, that's when you can do something more involved, like calling a friend, updating your blog, or taking a shower AND washing your hair.

But what if you're really tired?

Then take a nap. When sleep is the only thing you can think of to do during this 30-minute to 2-hour time frame, then sleep is what you need.

Crissi Langwell is the moderator at, an online community for parents in Sonoma County.

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