By Rachel Ballin
What is the number one thing I miss most about my life pre kiddos - sleep, slumber, rest! But letís preface that with saying I love my kids more than anything. They are totally worth my current level of exhaustion. Pre-kids, I could nap at leisure and sleep in on the weekends. I didnít survive the morning on coffee and I wasnít ready for bed by 8:00 p.m. right alongside my children.
Don't get me wrong, sleep in our house the past few months was actually on the rise. All three little ones were sleeping through the whole night. This meant I was too. It was awesome! Then of course changed happened; Bryn outgrew her beloved Ďrock n playí and Fynlee was ready to move into her first big girl toddler bed. Sleep has now become a hot commodity again. Sure they used to wake up occasionally before, but now we are back to that more sporadic, almost newborn like schedule. Good bye sweet slumber, hello 2:00 a.m. No I haven't really missed you, but my coffee maker at 6:00 a.m. is happy to see me again.
As a busy mom of three, who also works from home, the thought of a nap sounds like a dream. The idea of sleeping when your baby sleeps, sounds totally feasible at first, expect if I always slept when they were sleeping how would any domestics ever get done in this house? How would we change our ways to become a fit family? This idea just doesnít seem to work well for me. The beauty of sleeping in is you get to play catch up. Gain a few extra hours here and there. Problem, by mid school year my kids are on such a good wake up schedule for school days, by six-thirty they are up. They don't care if it's a Saturday or Sunday. They are awake and isn't it time for breakfast?
In my mind, sleep loss and motherhood go hand in hand. That continual groggy feeling in the first few weeks, with your newborn, seems almost like a rite of passage as you are experiencing it. Itís kind of like earning your wings. The truth, sleepiness last longer than the newborn baby phase. Iíve found it comes and goes in waves, as your baby learns new skills and grows. At some point it will get better, itís like a draw, either they will start sleeping for longer stretches or you will start finding ways to sneak more sleep and/or rest into your schedule.
I have a few ways to help you combat that sleepiness and find more moments in dream land and rest. The first thing my husband and I do is take turns. It helps as different kids tend to wake up at different times in our house. Plus the occasional, furry pet at 1:00a.m. that has to go out right then. Next, my favorite happens on the weekend, when he isnít scheduled to work. He will get up with the kids at the crack of dawn and let me sleep at least an extra hour, before Ďreleasing the houndsí and letting the kids wake me up with their hugs, kisses or inevitable jumping on the bed. Even though, itís only an extra hour or two, it seems to give me that extra pick me up I generally need after a long week. Last but certainly, not least, I remind myself to take a break once a day. Sometimes it may only be for a quick five minutes or it may not be until the kids are in bed at the end of the day. But I figure something is better than nothing. What I do varies, depending upon the day; I may watch a recorded show or read another chapter in my latest book. Regardless of the time of day or activity, it gives me a chance to unplug and recharge. It definitely gives my overworked ĎMom Brainí a little break. Itís something I definitely suggest everyone try. It sounds so simple, but I also know that as a Mom, I tend to be one of the lower priorities on my list, so I always welcome a little break with a smile.
In the end, I wouldn't trade the middle of the night cuddles and the ďI need you MommasĒ for anything. I know, some days, I look like a haggard mom as I take my kids out on errands around town. Or at least I must, because some days more than others, people tend to comment on how tired I must be with three little ones. I know they mean well. Iím sure I look exhausted. I most likely am, but I also know it's worth it. Our children are only little once, they grow so extraordinarily fast and we will never get these moments back. So I'll take the tired, attempt to overcome it and live life to the fullest each day.
*Did I mention I started this column at 2:00a.m.? If you have questions about child development, parenting and family life that you would like to ask me about please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Facebook at ĎBaby Talk Ė with Rachelí. You can check out what my family and I are doing throughout the week and how our ongoing projects are going. Plus find lots of great tips, encouragement and new ideas to share with your family and friends.