My littlest babe is cutting a mouth full of teeth. My almost 4yr old also loves to come visit us in the middle of the night – you know, just to say hi. The sleep deprivation is strong over here. Some days I get up and feel awesome . . . some days I get up and have a hard time getting the energy up to get out of my pajamas. It’s all very reminiscent of being pregnant and sick, or having a newborn and 1yr old. Anytime I face days (or weeks) like this I switch gears into ’sleep deprived mode’ and enforce my survival plan. I’m going to share my tactics with you, and hope it helps any mama’s out there who are dealing with this tough season!
#1 Drink Lots of Water
#1 Drink lots of water. I know it sounds simple, and a little trite, but drinking enough water can make or break an exhausted day. Being dehydrated contributes to brain fog, sluggishness, sore muscles, hunger and headaches. If nothing else, drinking 8-10 glasses of water gives me something to do and makes me feel productive when I totally can’t think of what to do next in the tired blur.
#2 Get outside
#2 Get outside. If at all possible, I get outside, even for a few minutes. Taking a walk is even better. It feels dry and forced at first, but the fresh air and gentle movement help clear my head and give me a different perspective. Bringing the kids outside helps them too – gives them some fresh air and exercise and a change of scenery.
#3 Use disposable
#3 Use disposable. Here is where penny pinching reaches an end in my world. If I’m sleep deprived I try and be kind to myself and make life easier. Paper plates, plastic cups, paper towels and wipes for EVERYTHING. I leave wipes in every room of the house so I can quickly wipe stuff down and not pull out the cleaning spray and rags. We eat exclusively off paper (yes, even if we have guests). For any misc dishes that I use to make food (if that’s happening) I give my kids something to do and have them pull stools up to the sink, line the floor with a big towel, and make them rinse all the dishes and fill the dishwasher.
#4 Sit on the floor and do laundry with the kids
#4 Sit on the floor and do laundry with the kids. In an effort to keep a semblance of order, and actually have clothes to wear (always a plus), laundry is my only (next to dishes) house task I try to chip away at. I set the timer for 15m and have my kids sit on the floor with me and divide up the laundry into piles. The girls sort their clothes, the boy finds his, and we divide up towels, rags, facecloths, baby clothes, mom & dad’s clothes and socks. Sock matching is a whole other thing for me (evidence by todays surprise moldy tangerine in the bottom of the sock basket). Outside of towels, facecloths, and dads clothes, we don’t fold much else in this house. I hang most of mine, and sort of ‘neatly lay’ them in the drawers. The kids each roll or just lay (or let’s be honest, jam and stuff) their clothes in their bins or bureau. I’m not claiming this is the best plan that’s hit the planet, but I would rather spend my time doing other things, so that’s what’s going on over here.
#5 Eat protein, fruits and veggies
#5 Eat protein, fruits and veggies. It has to be one of our bodies sneakiest and most annoying trickeries, that when we’re tired ALL we want to eat is junk, right? I desperately try and force myself to eat protein for breakfast (protein shake, eggs, meat, fish), veggies and fruit for snacks and lunch (salad, celery with peanut butter, big bowl of steamed frozen veggies with salt, cucumbers with salt, apples, bananas, watermelon), and then make dinner where I cut corners. Frozen veggies, grill meat, boiled whole potatoes, rough chopped stir fry…or ordering pizza if I must. I think the big thing for me is that when I’m NOT sleep deprived, I try hard to have us all eating lots of fresh foods and avoid junk…so that when I am at the end I don’t feel as terrible about doing it.
#6 Smile. When I’m a big grump, and just want to sleep, it’s a lot easier to lose patience with my kids and set the tone of home to miserable. I combat that by smiling at my kids as often as I can. Look them in the eye, smile and nod. It makes a big difference ? See? ?
#7 Be kind to yourself: take a nap
#7 Be kind to yourself: take a nap. If I’m desperate enough to take a nap, I say ‘no’ to any scheduling requests that might, maybe, possibly, even remotely infringe on my ability to take a nap. I set aside any of the normal things I do during the baby’s nap time, I set my kids up with movies, games, snacks; anything that I know will keep them safe and busy while I sleep. There is where I throw big ideals out the window of screen free-ness, or zero sugar . . . I do what it takes to make sure I sleep, for the happiness of everyone.
The couple things I try to remind myself of during these sleepless times is that this too shall pass. It is only a season! One of my biggest frustrations with this phase is that I loose vision and energy to keep up with a lot of the pieces of my life that don’t have to do with immediate survival of my household. I try and have a lot of grace with myself, maintain, take only the most essential steps forward (answering extremely important emails, ordering time-sensitive curriculums, responding to dated questions, etc) and remind myself that when I’m able to sleep everything will look different. I try and push off any big decisions if possible, or recruit feedback from team members or friends when that makes sense. I make it a goal to keep a heart that is gentle and at peace. To be honest with my kids about what I’m dealing with and at the same time show them that character doesn’t go out the window in the struggle. To be kind and patient with myself and just keep going.
Remember that God chose YOU for this task, and He promises He will give you everything you need. You’re still the best choice for this job of mothering your kids, even when you’re in your roughest moments!
Do you have any tips for survival sleepless seasons? I would love to hear them! Share the love!