When my girls were babies, the morning naptime was when I got on the treadmill and took a shower. Even before naps were well-established, I'd put the little one in the baby swing beside me, and she'd be out like a light. Experts strongly recommend against this, but I argue that it got them in the habit of taking a solid nap at that time.
When they took their afternoon snoozes, at first I'd follow the "sleep when the baby sleeps" adage, which never worked well for me, and then realized crossing something off the list was much more refreshing, so I would clean, organize, etc. (as much as I could without waking the baby. Vacuuming, of course, had to wait.)
If I was making appointments or running errands and leaving my kids with their Dad, grandparents or babysitter, I would always try to schedule things for the mornings, so I wouldn't lose out on those precious afternoon hours of repose.
During my second mat leave, the afternoon became my official freelance writing block, as I decided to start pitching parenting magazines, and ended up with a few contracts.
Between and after my leaves, there were (and are) still weekends and holidays with the girls at home for what sometime seem to be LONG days. Although the general practice at their daycare is to cut the afternoon nap around 3 years of age, Frannie has continued to have "quiet time" when at home for the past 2 and a half years while her sister naps, and I think it's one of the best decisions we ever made.
You just can't scrub the kitchen floor with a child around. Even at age five, you know she will feel the need to walk across it way too early. You can't wrap gifts (or attempt to throw out "precious" objects) with little eyes watching. You also can't catch up on great PVR like Blue Bloods and Grey's Anatomy with little ears listening. Plus, there's my schoolwork to consider. It's not recommended that you write report cards with your own children in the background, as you're bound to subconsciously type in a "mommy, mommy, mommy!" where it really shouldn't go. And there's the blog. If "quiet time" was not a rule in our household, "This Mom Loves" would cease to exist. Even if I weren't such a productivity-based kind of Mom, I still think having some time apart is healthy for all of us.
And really, what's so bad about spending two hours in a well-stocked children's room? Frannie has a wealth of toys, books, CD's, and drawing and colouring paraphernalia, and I think it's important for her to learn some independence, and how to keep herself entertained.
I share this tip with some people this and they react like I'm a child abuser, "locking" my child (as per her request, the door isn't even closed tight) in her room on weekend afternoons.
But seriously, wouldn't you love for someone to tell you that you absolutely must stay in your room alone for two straight hours on a Saturday afternoon? As long as I could have my reading material and toys (by which I mean Blackberry and Netbook; keep it clean ladies), I would absolutely be in heaven. I would also come out very refreshed for the remainder of the afternoon and evening, which often involve Mass, meals out, visiting, and later nights. (Despite the impression you might be getting, I really do cherish family time!)
Although three year old Maggie's afternoon nap has officially been cut at daycare, I still refuse to change our home routine (and she still falls asleep quickly every time I put her down). Even when she outgrows the sleep, she'll still enjoy quiet time just like her sister. It's nice to know that we can come and go in the afternoons for special occasions, and not have to worry about grumpiness or out-of whack routines, but if we don't have to be anywhere else, the girls have to be in their rooms.
Go ahead, call CAS on me right now. At least my floor is clean.