I have entered the stage of being drunk without having consumed any alcohol. It’s been a month since I’ve gotten more than three hours of consecutive sleep, and I am feeling decidedly loopy. There’s a counterintuitive sharpness of mind that I get when I’m not getting enough sleep. It’s like I’m extra perceptive and witty until I’m completely useless. Go figure.
So! How do we function, take care of a family, run a household, keep up various extra hobbies (cough cough blogging cough cough) when sleep is but a wish?
Everyone has different thresholds of functionality when it comes to sleep deprivation. My younger brother always needed much more sleep than I did. Ditto my husband. He just does not function as well on lack of sleep as I do, and while I could grouse and grumble about how inherently unfair that is, I could also look at it as “well thank G-d at least one of us can function on little sleep!”
For mothers of babies who also have a toddler at home, that’s rough, that’s really rough. I give you all the empathy because, legit, that is hard. I did it a number of times and I am exceedingly grateful that all my kids are in school from 9-3:30 (the bigger ones start at 8:30, even!), so I can actually do the “rest while the baby rests” thing. Not that I always do, but, you know, it’s a possibility!
I know everyone says you should sleep when the baby sleeps. It makes sense, I hear it. However, I am incorrigible when it comes to taking that classic advice. I mean, when am I supposed to make dinner, do laundry, and juggle the bazillion responsibilities that come with running a household and being the repository for all the kids’ obligations (except soccer, thankfully my husband has that under control)?
So what I have taken to doing instead of actual napping is that I do a quiet activity. Like what I made my four-year-old do when he stopped napping at the tender age of one-and-a-half. Quiet time. Restful activities. Basically, something that doesn’t require much mental effort.
Something else that’s helpful is paying attention to when I’m approaching nonfunctional status. The point of diminishing returns, I think they call it. When I feel that lag increasing, my activity decreases.
Outsource what’s possible. Order groceries online and pick them up (Target and Walmart have drive-up options), or, if it’s an option, use a service like Instacart where they actually bring the groceries to your house! I’m waiting for the day when there’s a service which will put my groceries away for me. That’s next level right there.
Cut yourself all the slack. ALL THE SLACK. Let things slide. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t commit to big things (let’s not talk about how I’m going to be in St. Louis in less than a month to give a talk on Using Your Unique Abilities To Be Your Best Self, this is a “do as I say and not as I do” kind of post).
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Delegate what you can and don’t worry when it’s not done “right.”
A lot of this is advice that could be applied for how to function while pregnant, or sick, or whenever you’re not at full capacity. And a lot depends on how much sleep you need, your baby’s disposition, the general neediness of your other kids, etc. etc. etc.
Ultimately, I keep in mind that this, like most everything in parenting, is just a stage. She will eventually sleep for longer stretches (though none of my kids were great sleepers, so I’m keeping my expectations very low). I will eventually feel less fuzzy around the edges.
Good luck to us all. Hopefully this post makes sense because I don’t have the bandwidth to proofread it, hahahaha!