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It’s already a well known fact that my kids hate sleep. I’m actually super excited to tell you that they’ve recently started sleeping through, although they’re still early risers. I feel like doing a little happy dance. But it’s taken us 2.5 years to get to the point where I’m getting more than 4hours sleep per night. And that was broken sleep. So I haven’t forgotten what it’s like to be exhausted all the time, with no chance of catching up on lost sleep.
It’s hard to stay rested when your kids hate sleep
You often have to choose between getting sleep and getting a little bit of time to yourself. I hate that whole “sleep when your baby sleeps” thing. For a start, my babies rarely slept for more than an hour or so at a time, so by the time I fell asleep, one of them was waking me up again. Plus, what about “me” time? You spend all day looking after your kids and then they finally go to sleep…. and all you want to do is watch something that isn’t a cartoon, or eat a hot meal without little hands grabbing your fork.
So, what can you do to stay rested when your kids hate sleep, without jumping into bed the second they close their eyes?
Seriously. If you don’t have to get up and get dressed and get out of the house… just don’t. You can rest without sleeping. PJ days are a great way to do this. Especially when you have little babies, rather than toddlers that expect you to play all day. Saying that, I still have the occasional PJ day. The twins think it’s great to play in their PJs and snuggle up on the sofa. And if you’re already in your PJs and the baby naps, feel free to join in, if you want to!
Take advantage of those babysitting offers
When you’re pregnant, everyone you know offers to babysit. When it’s your first pregnancy, this is lovely. You get to live in this wonderful little bubble, thinking about all the help you’re going to have when baby arrives. You run through the list of people promising to babysit whenever you need them to, thinking about how you’ll have people beating down your door to help you and spend time with your little one…
And then your baby is born. And you can hear crickets and practically see the tumbleweeds rolling past your door, which absolutely nobody is beating down.
Does any of this sound familiar? Obviously, I only had one pregnancy (buy one baby, get one free is the best bargain I’ve ever had), but I think I’d be a bit wiser the second time around. When I was pregnant with the twins, everyone I knew talked about how they were going to be “aunty” or “uncle” to the twins. They fought over who would be first on my list of people to call when I needed a babysitter. The bubble burst pretty quick when the babies were born and everyone disappeared with out a trace.
OK. Not everyone.
I have some amazing friends and family who actually meant those promises and hopefully you do, too. Remind those people about the offers they made and call in those favours. Even if you just go to bed for a quick nap. Or let someone else hold the baby while you eat and drink a cup of tea before it goes cold. You don’t have to actually go out and leave your baby (unless you want you – if you do, that’s totally OK, too). Just let someone else take over baby duty while you do whatever you need to do to feel more rested.
It’s easy to forget to take care of yourself when you’re sleep deprived. But food is fuel, people. Food is fuel. I’m not saying that eating a diet will magically make you forget that you’re not getting any sleep. But it will give you more energy and help you deal with it better. Eating a good diet won’t make it OK that you’re exhausted, but at least you won’t be running on empty.
Be kind to yourself – prioritise
The housework does not need to be done right this second. You do not have to have dinner on the table at a certain time. You don’t have to get dresssed and put make up on (unless you actually want to). Put yourself first. Prioritise your rest over anything else that you think needs to be done. The world won’t end if your house is a bit messy or your husband/whoever has to make their own dinner.
I found that the more I stressed out about how little sleep I was going to get, the less sleep I got. If I accepted that the twins were probably going to wake me up before long, it was much easier to deal with when it actually happened. Accept that your kids hate sleep, but know that it’s temporary. I thought the twins would never sleep through the night. But it has happened. It doesn’t happen every night, but it happens most nights, and it only took 2.5years to get to this point! It will happen for you too!