I am always tired. When people ask how I am, the first thing I say is, “I’m tired”. I bore myself with how much I can talk about baby sleep patterns, daily tiredness and borderline exhaustion. Currently being a stay-at-home-Mum to two young boys means that days are jam packed, non-stop and just not restful. I absolutely love being with them all day, and I put 100% of what energy I have into making them happy and fulfilled. It’s just…..you know….really tiring. I’ve said this before, but both boys have been pretty terrible sleepers. Thankfully, Omi has found his way and is happy to settle to sleep for the whole night, but right now Orion will wake every two hours, or less, evening and night, and is up for the day somewhere between 5am-7am. I feel like we’ve tried every trick in the book; pick up/put down (hello backache), controlled crying (eurgh hated every minute of it and it worked for about a week), offering water (hell no, why would he want that), trying to fill him up with solids (hello constipation), more daytime naps (nope), less daytime napping (nope again) – and I have finally given in and am breast feeding him back to sleep every time he wakes. I’m averaging five hours sleep a night. AND I AM TIRED. I’ve spent the last 2 ½ years developing my own compassionate strategies for coping with chronic baby-induced tiredness, and I wanted to share them with you. If you’re a kindred tired Mamma out there, then I want to send you a big e-hug (H U G) (there it is). Here are my top 10 ways of coping with a sleepy head in a busy world.
1. KEEP IT SIMPLE – I wrote a bit about keeping life simple. So I will refer you back to it, here. When things get too much, I simplify.
2. RESTFULLY ACHIEVE – There is always so much to get done, and the only time I can do anything productive, or for myself, is when the babes are napping or in bed. When I’m really done in, I make a cup of tea, grab my laptop, phone and diary and sit on the sofa. From here I can write to-do lists, plan meals, online shop, text friends back, return emails and calls, and so on. It’s a feet-up restful time, but I also get lots done. Win-Win.
3. TRY NOT TO STRESS ABOUT IT – Easier said than done I know. I spend most mornings totting up my hours of sleep from the previous night, minus the night feeds, resettling, toilet trips, water breaks and so on. It never comes close to that magical 8 hour target that I dream about. In the past, this would make me quite anxious, to the point that even when both boys were asleep, I would be lying awake stressing about how tired I was. I’ve learnt my lesson, and try my best to accept the unknowns of the night ahead, hope for the best, switch off and get my head down when the house is quiet.
4. BE HEALTHY – The more sleep deprived I am, the more likely I am to reach for easy quick-fix foods (normally cake) to see me through the day. It always leaves me feeling worse in myself, like I’m running on empty, in all senses. I have to remind myself to drink plenty of water, start the day with a big bowl of porridge, stock up on healthy snacks and try to take a good walk in the fresh air.
5. MAKE SLEEP A PRIORITY – Owen is always saying this to me. And he’s right. When I’m exhausted after a long day, and have a broken night ahead, I have to accept that although my evening is my only time to myself to read my favourite blogs, do some writing, bake something….(in between running up and down the stairs to Ori), sometimes I have to scrap any plans of doing anything and just sleep. Even if I get an extra hour or so, it all helps.
6. MAKE A PLAN – I’m no expert on solving baby sleep problems – but sometimes as a parent, you may feel that enough is enough, when it comes to tending to a little one that will not settle easily. Perhaps you need a change of course when it comes to your methods of coping with a wakeful baby. Since having Ori, we have spent several evenings making ‘the plan’ on how to help him sleep better so that we can get more rest. Now, this will mean different things to different people, but for us, the plans often outlines who will attempt to settle Ori at what time and how often I am prepared to feed him back to sleep during the night. It helped us to have something to work with, so that we weren’t trying to make decisions at 2am. And I could go to bed feeling confident that Owen and I were working as a team and sharing the sleep deprivation out a little!
7. ASK FOR HELP – Learning to admit that I can’t do it all and that I need help with the boys, has been a great lesson for me. I’m generally crap at asking for assistance, but when I am worn out I know I can ask friends and family to help me with things like food shopping, cooking meals and playing with the boys. Having a little pressure taken off, makes a big difference to my happiness and my ability to be a good Mother to the boys.
8. PLAN A PJ DAY – We all know there are no holidays, sick days or time-in-lieu when you are taking care of little ones. However, I have invented my own guilt-free Mama bank holiday in the form of a planned PJ day. Planned in the sense that you must have enough food, nappies, home-based activities and visitors to entertain the kids sorted in advance, leaving you free to stay in your jammies all day behind closed doors, to rest up a little, without having to face the world. Shutting everything out for one day is just so needed sometimes.
9. LET THINGS GO – It’s hard to stay on top of your game when you’re exhausted. Rather than getting worked up about all the things that I should have done, or could have done, I try to take a deep breath and let go. So, I might not have had time to do my hair, or put proper make-up on, I didn’t make that special meal I’d planned or listed the pile of ebay things to sell….but I try to remind myself that things will get done eventually, life will fall back in to place and everything will be easier when I’m more rested.
10. KNOW THAT IT WILL END – It will end. I assure you. I’m not there yet with the little babba still waking so frequently. But Omi sleeps for 12 hours a night with no get-ups, probably 90% of the time now. I keep saying to Owen; “Imagine when they are BOTH doing that! We will be, like, sooooooo rested”. We will get there. And you will too.
AND FORGIVE YOURSELF – For being short-tempered, forgetful, unorganised, unwashed, tearful and all the other things you wouldn’t necessarily be if you weren’t so bloody tired all the time.
**how gorgeous is that photo of the lovely big bed basking in the sunshine? i took that on mine and owen’s final get away in cambodia before we left for home, 3 months pregnant and full of excitement. ah – should of slept more back then.**