When my son was a newborn I attended a group with other first-time moms. The facilitator listened to our excuses about why we couldn't sleep when baby slept..."he cat-naps," "he only sleeps in my arms," "I don't enjoy napping," etc. Her advice was to just lie down whenever baby slept. Don't worry about falling asleep. Just rest and try to stay off of your feet.
I found her advice to be even more helpful when tending to both a toddler and a newborn. I couldn't sleep whenever baby slept, but I could rest - read books with my toddler, color, etc. And when our toddler took his afternoon nap, I helped our daughter take a longer nap as well - by keeping her room quiet, nursing her, swaddling her, etc. Most of the time I was able to sync their naps enough to take a catnap myself. Yes, sometimes it was only 15 minutes and I didn't always fall asleep, but I felt like the time was best spent resting rather than cooking, cleaning, etc.
After a few weeks I no longer needed that afternoon nap but I still put in the effort to sync their naps. When both kids were napping I could focus on completing tasks that reenergized me. Sometimes that meant taking a shower. Sometimes that meant exercising. And sometimes that meant reading a book.
I'm thankful that I was able to sync their naps when our daughter was a newborn. It gave me the energy I need to keep up with my toddler now that he has dropped his final nap.
Did you try to sleep when your baby slept? Sync your kids' naps? Were you successful?