“Sleep when the baby sleeps” It’s the one piece of advice I’ve heard the most since becoming at mum…the trick to surviving the lack of sleep. And yet this particular piece of advice makes me sigh. In fact, more than that – it makes me dive straight into an inner monologue rant “but what about the washing up that needs doing, clothes that need washing, food that needs to be picked up off the floor? How can I rest when I know I should be doing that?!”
Yes it’s fair to say that apart from the first few months of being a mum – when my body was making the nap decision for me – I don’t do this at all. I grab a strong cup of coffee and crack on. I blog. I put the washing on. I shove everything in the dishwasher as fast as I can. Because those sacred naps are the only way to get stuff done sometimes, to stop the house looking like it is an absolute pig sty (to be honest it’s not great even at the best of times!). And to be quite honest, I am dreading the day that those naps disappear…I wonder what we do then.
But some days, your body says no. Your eyelids go heavy and your legs achey…it means only one thing – sleep it taking over and the best thing you can do is surrender and rest. It’s like those early months when your body is leading the way, it needs you to rest and you have no choice but to go with it. I have to say I still try to fight it…maybe it’s instinctual. I can’t help it, I find myself falling asleep on the sofa, determined not to have to retreat to the bedroom…convincing myself I’m just closing my eyes for a second.
It feels like a defeat, you can feel the guilt creeping about what is not getting done. In our house, it only takes one meal for the kitchen to suddenly look like my old student houseshare at university. All the things you put to one side to crack on with when the baby is asleep – the washing up, the clothes washing, a crucial sweep underneath the highchair to prevent the toddler from eating off the floor when she wakes up. Suddenly the plan has gone down the pan and what has to be done, will just have to stay there for a few more hours.
So the other day this happened to me, I was at the end of the road of keeping on with everything and suddenly my body said ‘no – bed for you’…I felt the guilt, but surrendered to sleep anyway. I woke up feeling a million times better for it. It made me more patient and just gave me a bit in the tank to keep going for the rest of the day…because those 5:30am wake up calls are bound to take its toll after a while, they make for very long days. We’re all Supermums running around doing things at 100mph, but sometimes a rest is in order and there’s absolutely no reason to feel bad about that.