Friday, January 21, 2011

In the meantime: Getting through your day when you are running on empty

Sometimes, things hit your mailbox or your inbox at the exact right time.

Twice in the past two days, I have been reminded that the universe is guiding me with its large finger and giving me a leg up when I need it. Case in point: This morning, after another long and sleepless night with the 18 month old, I opened up my Today's Parent that arrived yesterday. What do I find? An editorial and article on how parents are dealing with lack of sleep in their houses.  It wasn't about how to get your kid to sleep (let's face it, my kid will sleep through the night when he feels like it and not a moment before. I am projecting he will be 6, like his brother). The article was how they dealt with it in their house. One mother used a 46 inch TV (novel idea, and I don't blame her a bit), another used bottles (she shouldn't feel bad, my daughter was over 4 before I could pry that bottle out of her fingers. Don't tell her dentist).

I admire these women, I truly do. They have been to that dark and lonely place that you can only go to when you get woken up 5 or 6 times a night. Or in my case, 5 times before midnight and awake between 3 am and 5 am. I will admit I have cried on many occasions since my youngest was born. I will admit I cried early this morning. Its nothing to be ashamed of. Not sleeping is hard.

I will continue to make my best effort to get him to sleep, but I have concluded that I won't be sleeping blissfully anytime soon. And as this lack of sleep has affected my parenting, my house (when you see your house through barely open eyes, it really does look cleaner. Go ahead, try it. Squint a little. You'll think Martha Stewart moved in and fixed you right up), and my relationships, I need to muddle through any way I can.

The only thing I feel that was left out of the Today's Parent article was how to get through the day. What I mean is, what are some expert strategies for getting by on a severe lack of sleep? No matter whether you divide your time between kids, carpooling and computer all day like I do, or you have a dedicated 9 to 5 job (plus the above mentioned kids and carpooling), how do you get by on no sleep?

I'm not sleeping, that much is clear. In the meantime, here's how I (and maybe you) can get by:
  •  Coffee: I wrote a blog post once about the different types of coffee that can wake you up. I stand by my research and results, but the key thing I have learned about coffee since then? Don't drink too much. Your ears will start to ache and by 3 pm it will have a counter effect. If your body is feeling like you are shutting down, don't down another cup of coffee. It will only make your head fuzzy, your stomach upset, and perhaps your ears will start bleeding. I haven't discovered whether that is actually happening to me, or if it just really feels that way.
  •  Stick your head outside and get some fresh air. Take ten deep breaths and wait five minutes. This really works. I always feel revived. Perhaps I have no oxygen in my house. 
  • Jump up and down while listening to music. Go all Jane Fonda on yourself. Added bonus: Your kids will think its fun too. When I've been really desperate, I've put on Elvis at top volume and the kids run around screaming. Its hard to be tired and/or crabby when Elvis is on. 
  • Talk on the phone. Get someone on the phone who understands your dilemma and discuss something interesting other than sleeping and your children. Focusing on topics that get your brain working can wake you up, because let's face it, your brain is most likely trained to wonder who made that puddle on the floor and whether you can convince your 5 year old that the same old mac and cheese is actually Buzz Lightyear's space food.
I live in a climate where it rains much of the time. I have a husband who travels for work. I work from home in addition to raising four children. When I don't sleep for 18 months at a time, I'm really scaling a wall in search of some semblance of sanity.

As I've stated, I don't believe I will be sleeping anytime soon, but in the meantime I will continue to use the above mentioned wake up calls and avoid watching Handy Manny. Why? Because when I'm really tired, Mr.Lopart and his fluffy cat really get on my nerves.

Have a Happy Friday

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