I have never taken a single sip of coffee in my life.
When people first hear about this, they naturally assume that I must be some sort of religious freak who believes my body could be contaminated by impure things like caffeine, alcohol and junk food.
But I can assure you that if researchers examined my stomach right now, they would discover a unique mixture of Sour Patch Kids, chicken wings and Dr. Pepper floating around.
I’m not sure why I’ve never taken a sip of coffee, but that’s just the way my life has played out.
And now that I’m 36 years old, that’s kind of my thing. I’m at the point where it’s too late to start drinking coffee because people know me as the weirdo who has never taken a sip of it in his life. And when people think you’re a weirdo, I’ve learned it’s best to just play up that stereotype.
But virtually every other parent I know drinks coffee to start their day. When you have a child bouncing on your bed at 6:30 a.m., it’s hard to match that type of physical energy without the aid of a stimulant. In many households, coffee is the grease that oils the entire machine.
So people always want to know how I can survive as a parent without coffee.
The answer is napping.
In many ways, I’ve adopted the schedule of a toddler. I get up in the morning, go to work for a few hours, come home, eat some lunch and then lie down for a solid nap. The only difference is my morning routine involves putting on a suit to go to work instead of watching The Backyardigans. But just like a two-year-old, I’m pretty tuckered out by 1 p.m.
So I usually try and sleep for a good 60 to 90 minutes each afternoon. And these are full-blown, serious naps that involve me getting back into my pajamas — or at least putting on my old Big League Chew t-shirt and sweatpants. If you want to be a serious napper, you can’t do it in regular clothes.
For me, this routine of taking a nap really started when I stayed at home on parental leave when our first daughter was born. I took five months off work and every day, I would put Elissa down for a nap around 1 p.m. and then I would nod off myself.
Now almost nine years later, it’s still pretty much a daily habit of mine. I realize that not everybody works in a business that allows them to nap. As much as you’d love to fall asleep during a marketing meeting, I’m sure that’s not possible for many of you who work in an office environment.
I’m fortunate because my schedule as a hockey reporter often leaves me with large chunks of free time in the afternoon before a game. Today, for example, I plan on taking a monster nap in the afternoon here in Montreal before I have to do my live television work at 5 p.m. Obviously, it helps having a king-sized bed in a hotel room with no kids around.
But at home, I always get an afternoon nap in and our kids even know the routine. In fact, when my wife is walking the kids back from school, they’ll often ask her, “Is Daddy at home?” And when she replies that I am, their follow-up question is, “Is he sleeping?”
I have a childhood memory of walking in the door from school and smelling fresh-baked muffins that my mom used to make. Twenty years from now, my kids will have the memory of walking into our house and being told to be very quiet because daddy is sleeping.
The funny thing is that my wife used to view afternoon naps as lazy and slothful. I think that was Sonia’s inner Mennonite voice telling her that napping was a waste of time and that she could always be doing something more productive — like canning some fruit. But now I’ve introduced her to the power of napping and I think I’ve fully converted her to my side. The downside is we don’t have any homemade jam, but that’s a trade we’re willing to make. My theory is that it’s better to buy a jar of Smuckers from the grocery store and be well-rested than to pursue the alternative route.
We often take turns with afternoon naps in our house and on some rare occasions, Sonia and I actually get to fall asleep together. Sadly, this only happens when there is a new selection of On-Demand kids programming available on the television. And our kids are old enough now where they can be unsupervised for an hour and we know they won’t do anything like walk out the front door or try making a grilled cheese sandwich in the Blu-ray player.
I find that when I’ve had a solid afternoon nap, I’m in a better place the handle the chaos of the late-afternoon/evening schedule in our household. Someone always doesn’t want to take a bath or finish their green beans, but I feel less frustrated when I’ve had a nap. My mental rope gets extended by a few feet and I don’t feel like I’m at the end of it.
So if you ever see me sipping from a Starbucks or Tim Horton’s cup, you’ll know that I’m just having hot chocolate. And if you happen to notice that I’m wearing a Big League Chew t-shirt, it probably means that I’m also on my way for an afternoon nap — or have just woken up from one.
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