I know I bang on a lot about the necessity for wine in my life but in my book there’s something that even trumps that. Sleep. Sleep, my friends, is a grossly undervalued commodity in the market place of putting yourself first. Without sleep you can’t function. You can’t make good decisions. You can’t think clearly and you can’t see straight. Nothing in life is good. It’s hard enough finding the ‘swap’ button on your meal planner when you’ve had a solid eight hours let alone when you’ve not slept for three weeks (or three years). Some people do better on less sleep than others. I’m not one of them. Along with wine Mama needs her sleep!
I’ve always loved my sleep. I like to go to bed early. Nap often. And generally pay all too much attention to my bed linen.
Then I grew another human and for the last three years have lived in a state of suspended reality, as I’d grab whatever minute, hour or moment I could to sleep.
But I also know that exercise or, more simply, movement helps monumentally in every aspect of coping with lack of sleep and other life stressors. So even if I don’t get my full 28 minutes with Sam I do what I can do to move my backside for at least half an hour. More incidental exercise. Pushing the pram to the bottle shop…I mean supermarket. A short walk where I try and focus on what I can do for that day.
Anyone with children will tell you that as soon as those little micro-managers join your family sleep becomes a currency to be traded within your home. You negotiate with you partner like an Aussie tourist haggling over 50 lousy cents for a mass-produced Bali souvenir. You’d trade anything just to steal an hour with your pillow, or the couch, or the pile of laundry that looks like a cosy place to collapse. “Honey, you take the baby for a walk around the block or the pub or the TAB. I don’t really care. Just give me an hour to sleep.”
I actually count myself as one of the lucky ones. I think my 3-year old CEO is a pretty good sleeper. Mostly. We had our fair share of sleep training antics and discipline – that mostly involved lots of cuddling and wishing loudly that she’d go the fuck to sleep. So while she sleeps well most of the time she doesn’t sleep through all of the time and coming from a base of loving my sleep it only takes two nights of broken sleep and I’m cactus.
Her latest escapades are padding into our room around 2am and needing a) to get into bed with us, even though she just kicks and squirms and starts singing or b) needs me to come to her room to hand her, her water bottle that is within a teddy’s bears reach beside her bed.
I’ve taken to swapping beds with her. Smartest thing I ever did was put her in a double bed when the cot was packed up. It wasn’t intentional. The double bed was in her room from the first six months when I’d have to sleep and feed and sleep and feed. Anyway…she wanted it to be her big bed. Which has worked out just fine. Plenty of room for story telling and a bigger bed for mama to sleep in when she won’t leave my actual bed.
When I joined 28 I was coming off the back of a good few weeks of sleep. My child was on point. No major broken nights and I was feeling like I could tackle anything. But I still get days when I simply can’t deal because my sleep has been broken for too many nights in a row. And on those days. Sleep wins.
I set my alarm for 6am every morning so I can get up, do my workout, deal with the morning routine and start my day. On the nights that my child has disturbed me it’s highly likely that I’ve only just fallen back to sleep at 5.30am, having been awake and problem solving every damn thing for the last three hours since being woken.
So, on those mornings Sleep trumps Sam. I wish I was one of those people that appears to have just boundless energy in spite of what is happening in their life. Take the gorgeous Madeline West for example. Superstar mother to six drunk midgets (her term) all under eight and with a book by the same name that she wrote ‘in between’ sleeping while her last two were babies (twins). Insane. I was exhausted reading it. But she seems to have managed and balanced her life and still somehow produced a) a book b) to keep working and c) not kill anyone in the process. Amazing. But I shan’t compare my thighs to hers…I mean, my life to hers. We’re different people. Entirely.
I’m working on my mindset to just try and get my ass up, in spite of poor sleep because I’m sure if I can just keep going then maybe I’ll be fitter to be able to deal with poor sleep. But for now, no can do. Mama needs sleep. Speaking of which…is it nap time?