If you ask me what makes me a good mom, I won’t hesitate even for a minute before I’m going to answer “sleep”. Sounds weird? It isn’t. Of course not everybody is so sensitive to sleep deprivation as I am but if you’re anything like me, you’ll know what I am talking about. The difference is like day and night. When I’m well rested, I am the mom who plays with her children and laughs and sings and goes outside and pushes the swing for her children. When I am sleep deprived, I am the mom who is crankier than her children, the mom who yells and the mom who has no patience left.
Now these tips are about surviving sleep deprivation.
1) Choose your priorities
Think about what you consider really important. Do those things. Keep the other stuff to minimum, but don’t sweat it if you don’t manage everything on your list. And, please prioritize sleep. When you have to wake up at night, ask yourself the question: “Do I really need to deal with this right now?”. Is some cases, you do: if your child wets the bed or throws up during the night, yes, you’d better get up, change the sheets, and even better, put them in the washing machine right away. If you breastfeed, then yes, you’re the only one who is able to feed the baby during the night. If it doesn’t require your immediate attention, then it can probably wait until tomorrow. Otherwise, think if your husband can help you with this. Also, if you want sleep, try to squeeze as much sleep as you can: nap during the day or go to bed earlier if possible, of course.
2) Do whatever works
If you prioritize sleep, do whatever it takes for you to sleep. If your children are cranky, consider sharing a bed or a room with them. Forget all parenting advice and do whatever works. If you’re tired, you may do things that you most probably won’t be proud of. But remember, this is not the time to beat yourself up. If you have a method that works, great! If you don’t, just try to survive, day by day. This is not a time to try new things, especially if they require you to spend more energy. Remember, your children can play with the iPad, or with things they’re usually not allowed to. This is an emergency situation. Just do whatever works.
3) Be extremely kind to yourself
First of all be careful because if you can’t sleep, you won’t only be in a bad mood, you’ll also by clumsier than usual. And, since my usual is very clumsy, I often end up having cuts on my hands. So I try to be very careful when cutting veggies for dinner. I try not to do things that need me to reach up or operate heavy things. I think this is a way to be kind to yourself. There are other ways, too: eat good food- but also indulge in nice treats like chocolate. If you have a minute to yourself, don’t do anything, just sit down and read a book- just don’t read parenting books, please. You don’t need all the guilt right now. Also watch out for caffeinated drinks, while they can wake you up, they make actually cause sleep problems- since I had to get up early to get my girl ready for school, I can’t even drink tea because then I don’t sleep at night.
4) Jump at opportunities
Even if you don’t sleep much, there will be bad nights and good nights. If you have a bad night, please re – read points 1-3. If you’re having a good night, however, and are feeling great, feel free to do whatever you’ve been wanting to do all these days when you were too tired: play with the children and listen to them. Clean the house. Prepare a nice, elaborate dinner. Finally get exercise. Choose whatever you wish and do it. You never know when that sleep deprivation will strike again!
Is sleep deprivation a problem for you? How do you deal with it? Share your tips for survival!