It’s Okay to Take a Nap by Debra Sansing Woods
Reviewed by Catherine K. Arveseth

For Mothers Everywhere

Debra Woods’ newest book is written for mothers everywhere. It transcends the mothers’ circle at church, offering practical advice with a tenor that will resonate with any mom. It’s the kind of book you will want to pass on to your friends (within and without the church) as a baby gift or just to say, “I understand and I’m thinking of you.” Mothers everywhere share in the common desire (and challenge) of wanting to raise a successful family.

The title alone makes you pause mid-diaper change to chuckle. What mother hasn’t fallen asleep reading bedtime stories, begged her children to give her two minutes of quiet while she fades into irresistible oblivion on the couch, or forced herself to do dishes during the kids’ naptime when what she really wanted to do was crash on the closest soft surface?

Sleep-deprivation is required, right? Just part of the job description. And so we prod ourselves on – “can’t take time for a nap … can’t take time for a nap.” Have you been there? Some days I’m still there. But Woods definitely had me thinking about being kinder to myself – about how “exceptional self-care” can positively affect my home and family.

It’s Okay to Take a Nap will be most helpful to mothers with children at home, but mothers of any season can glean a few gem-like truths to share or apply themselves. The book begins with the following dedication.

I wrote this book to honor you as mothers and to encourage you to be kind to yourselves as you go about the important and sacred work of raising your precious children.

True to that focus, Woods has designed each chapter to be encouraging but realistic, humorous, yet spot-on when it comes to matters of the heart, and rich with self-realization. It is obvious Woods is sharing hard-earned truth acquired from years of discovery.

I felt the book displayed Woods’ growth as a writer. Her voice is confident, comfortable, and seems to reflect more of the real Debra. She is convincing, happy with herself as a mother, and commendably open to sharing what has worked (and not worked) for her. I enjoyed her candidness.

Reassuring Truths

The full title of Woods’ book is It’s Okay to Take a Nap and Other Reassuring Truths for Mothers Everywhere – a perfect summation of what the book proffers. Woods’ truths are comforting and heartening. Moms will feel like someone understands them. They will find the book full of suggestions and ideas in a multitude of categories. Woods calls them “Invitations and Inspirations.”

From outstanding books to read (with your children and alone) to music recommendations, activities for playtimes, and ways to fit exercise into your busy schedule, the list goes on. Some will suit you. Some won’t. But it’s all about helping you see the bigger picture – that it really is okay to do something for yourself like take a nap.

Here are a few of my favorite “reassuring truths”:

If we as mothers do something we absolutely love alongside raising our children we absolutely love, we will, I believe, almost guarantee that our children will be raised in an atmosphere steeped in joy (3).

You don’t have to do it all today. I want better for my children than a mother who exhausts herself with her perpetual race to the end of a never-ending to-do list (7).

Where we make room for laughter, we make even more room for love (28).

Our methods for finding time [for ourselves] may differ, but the results are usually the same – happier moms and thus happier families (49).

Focus on the good you are doing as a mother … you will discover … that you do not have to be a perfect mom to be a good mom, and that you are a better mother than you sometimes think (56).

Becoming frustrated only [makes] things worse. Instead, I have learned to lighten up, to surrender to the inevitable interruptions, finding that it makes much more sense to arrive late and happy than late and grumpy (63).

Motherhood is a meditation. It teaches us to focus, not necessarily on what we had originally intended to do, but rather on what needs to be done most at the moment (63).

Two words … exceptional self-care …”It makes all the difference” (68).

Sometimes our children need our love and care the most when they seem to want it the least (77).

Today is a gift to enjoy (83).

Be Kind to Yourself

The final chapter in Woods’ book is titled “Be Kind to Yourself – You won’t Regret It.” Woods writes,

Most of us can get away with being hard on ourselves for a time, whether being hard on ourselves means not getting enough sleep or exercise, taking ourselves too seriously, or whatever the case may be. Even so, there are times in our lives when circumstances demand, whether we’re in the habit or not, that we be kind to ourselves (93).

Woods goes on to share her own personal story of doing too much too soon after a recent cancer surgery. Learning some lessons the hard way was not easy so Woods counsels us to think differently, to choose to be kind to ourselves day in and day out. She has found that when she is kind to herself, her family is blessed.

Woods puts it this way, “You will not regret it … for you will be a mom who knows a valuable secret to creating a happy home and family life” (98).

It’s Okay to Take a Nap is a success. It’s a quick 100-page read that can be tucked into a purse (or diaper bag), makes a great gift and is packed to the hilt with wisdom and fresh ideas. I laughed out loud at times (new moms – don’t miss Woods’ sleep-deprivation story about looking for her purse in the middle of the night. It’s priceless!) I took notes. And in going over the passages marked, I can see I need to read the book again. It is exceptional. A book you will definitely want to hang onto.

Debra Woods is a full-time mom and part-time freelance writer. She currently lives in Oklahoma City with her husband, Barry, and their five youngest children.