There is Nothing Magical about Sleep Deprivation

I really didn’t feel great today. My eldest daughter is back at school after a month long holiday and a week of early wake ups, a busy daily routine and a yucky bug has meant that I have not been in top form. To add to my misery my little ones have been waking up a lot lately which means that not only am I feeling run down but also very sleep deprived (I’m not feeling sorry for myself or anything).

While weeks like this aren’t the norm, they do happen from time to time and I know that I am not the only one going through it. There are hundreds of parents out there who are having a far rougher time and for far longer (I feel for you, I really do).

This got me thinking about what I usually do to deal with the sleep deprivation, to make the week less stressful, not only for me, but for everyone in the house.

Here are my top coping mechanisms:

Create a balance
I swear I don’t know how single parents do it because there are some days where I know I couldn’t do this parenting thing without my husband. We have a system in our house where during the week I always get up for our children and then on the weekends we take it in turns. It works for us because although both of our daily tasks are important, he is the one who has to interact with people in a corporate environment. What he also does is spend some alone time with our little ones most weekends so that I can get an hour or two to myself to do whatever I feel like (sleep, haircut, browse the shops, anything really). I am so grateful for the time and I feel like those few hours really help me clear my head and re-set for the week ahead.

Plan ahead (as in the night before)
After the children are tucked up in bed and fast asleep, the first thing I like to do is a little happy dance, yay me. Once I have gotten that out of my system, I like to get as much done in preparation for the following day as possible. Ok, like might not be the right word. I certainly don’t feel like it, however I know that as much as I don’t want to do these mundane tasks last thing at night (when the couch and my pyjamas are calling out to me), I know that I am going to feel like doing them even less in the morning after very little sleep. So, I prepare lunch boxes for my husband and eldest daughter (everything except the rolls that need to be done on the day), pack school bags, lay out clothes, put out my running clothes (ha ha) and anything else that would save time in the morning. It really does make the morning routine a lot less stressful and it definitely helps get two little people out the house on time a LOT easier.

Get great coffee
If you are one of those magical people who lives with the unicorns and can function without caffeine, I am in awe of you. I cannot, my body runs on it. Freshly ground with hot milk and a cap of foam, mmmmmmmm.

Grab a nap when you can
This is a phrase that you are usually told as a new mother with a tiny baby but us moms of toddlers and small children need naps from time to time too. Despite my many efforts to the contrary, both of my children stopped their day sleeps very young (my eldest was 18 months and my youngest was 2) and so I have had to just plough through and get on with it for a while now. However, every now and then there is a magical moment where they will decide to nap. Or, like today, my eldest was at school and my youngest fell asleep in the car on the way back from the shops. I managed to bring her in from the car asleep which left me with 20 glorious minutes to have a power nap before we had to do the school run. Always take the nap, everything else CAN wait. It is cliché but sleep when the baby sleeps!

It’s ok to eat scrambled eggs or peanut butter sandwiches for dinner.
I know it isn’t for everyone but I love to cook. I try to cook every night for my family, nothing fancy, but healthy family meals that we can all eat. Even if my husband and I eat it on the night and my little ones have the left overs the next day. There are days though, that I just can’t. It is on those days that I revert to scrambled eggs, cheese and ham, and its ok. Now I know that for some people that is a usual meal and there is nothing wrong with that. The point that I am trying to make is that no matter what your backup is, on those days that you don’t have the energy, it is ok to take it. Whether that is eggs, peanut butter sandwiches or pizza delivery, your children will go to bed with full tummies and you will be (mostly) sane and able to finish that last stretch.

At the end of the day though (literally and figuratively) we have to just push on. We are moms and our little people need us to do the things for them that they can’t do for themselves. One day they will be able to go to the toilet in the middle of the night on their own (with one still in nappies this isn’t happening any time soon for me) and you will be able to sleep through the night again (please).

But on those really tough days, I think my children just know, and then they do things like tell me they love me, they eat their eggs, they don’t pour all the bath water onto the floor (only half) and they just look at me with those eyes that tell me that I am their whole world, and then every extra minute awake for them is worth it.

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We love you mommy!

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