Before I had a baby, I had absolutely no idea. One of the girls from our NCT group had her little boy almost exactly before Emma was due and she text me in those early weeks saying “I know it’s cliche, but just sleep as much as you can now”. I read it and thought, “how bad can it be?”. The struggle of getting on with your day when you’ve been woken up to 7 times in the night is very real. It makes you feel like you are climbing Everest with a boulder pulling you down as you try to take a step forward. It’s now that I truly understand why sleep deprivation is a form of torture.
After 16 months, things are easier in some ways. Emma is more mobile and while that presents it’s own challenges, she is happier within herself. But sleep is something we are constantly battling with. After over a year, you’d think my body would have got used to it, but actually it’s the cumulative tiredness of battling through every night that makes it a bit tricky. So in the absence of things getting better, I like to adopt the following things to help with the morning after…
Get to bed early
I found this one hard, because basically I’m a stubborn mule. In some ways, I think it may have been the only thing from pre-baby me that I was clinging onto and refusing to change. But eventually I got the memo – try to plan your evening 3 hours earlier than you normally would and go to sleep at 10pm (or earlier if you need to). You’ll thank yourself for getting some shut eye before the dream feed.
In those early months, I was really good at this because as Emma was screaming in the pram, a walk round the park was the answer to everything. But as she got older, we got in a routine of staying in til late morning, by which point we’d both have cabin fever! Forcing ourselves to have an early-ish walk or trip to the park makes the world of difference and really revives my energy.
Coffee is your friend
I’m not going to lie, fresh air alone is not going to work. Coffee is the only way and we’ve now built up to the maximum strength #5! Amazingly I don’t think I drank that much coffee before I had Emma but now I wouldn’t get through the day without at least one cup.
Surrender that you can’t do it all
A real turning point for me was when I started being totally upfront with my family about how I feel. It was great because as soon as I said it, the boys realised that I needed a bit more support on those days and tried to give me a few breaks over the weekend. Sometimes as Mums, we’re trying so hard to be everything to everyone in the family and a bit of extra communication goes a long way.
Accept that it will change….one day
And it will. I’ve accepted that it is this way until it’s not anymore. So for the moment, let’s just keep on trucking til that day arrives!