Se7en Survives Sleep Deprivation…

I have written about babies and sleep before but I thought it was time to write about mom’s and sleep or rather their lack of it!!! The one question I get a lot is “When do you sleep?” And I have to say: “I get by!!!” There comes a time when people just stop asking “Does your baby sleep through?” And when moms say they are exhausted, they very often aren’t exaggerating – they genuinely are!!! In the real world everyone has night-time needs that have to be addressed. Babies, toddlers, children, teenagers and adults don’t actually sleep all night and I am okay with that now, but I wasn’t always, my first child trained me well!!!


I do have nights where our youngest finally falls asleep at eleven, and someone wakes up because they need a glass of water, and then someone wakes with a tummy ache and then they get back to sleep and I will head for bed in the early hours and as my head hits the pillow a little person cries and needs help. And this can go on until I see the glimmer of the light of day creeping out of the dark and as you finally collapse into bed it is the sound of tweeting birds that lulls you to sleep – or not, because by now you have had it!!! I do have nights like that but not every night!!!

I did have a friend once tell me that if you think of the nights as a journey and you are traveling through, some nights are smooth sailing and others are rough riding… and that got me thinking that I needed to be better prepared for the rough nights!!! Just last month when we had a fortnight of coughs and colds I had a spate of nights that were rather ragged.

So here are my Se7en Sleep Deprivation Tips…

  1. Sleep Deprivation is Torture: Sleep interruption is used to torture Prisoner’s of War and is the one thing that can make a sane person insane really fast… The trick is knowing that, knowledge is everything. Believe me the child that is unwell and keeps you up all night will probably end up sleeping on the couch in the day… make sure you do the same. Your kids will get enough sleep despite a sleepless night – you need to make sure to do the same.
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  3. Exhaustion is an Illness: Seriously people end up in hospital over less!!! Take it seriously and treat it seriously… not every day is like this and not every night is a nightmare… but there are nights when your kids are older than newborn that you look back on and think: “How on earth did I survive?” – You know thirty-nine weeks pregnant and then your six kids get a stomach bug… So how to treat exhaustion? The obvious thing is to get some rest. But I know from experience that we talk about it and never get it. My suggestion is be intentional about it. If you have had a really bad night then don’t sag on the couch and hope to feel rested later on. Go to bed, get some real sleep – even twenty minutes, will make you feel better.
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  5. Cancel Everything: In a lucid moment think about what needs to get done in your house, no matter what, on a given day. Figure out what your “absolute minimum” day would look like and take it. For us that means canceling all outings, play dates, errands – all of them. You probably don’t actually have to do half of them and the world won’t miss you for a day or two. Lose your phone, if it is important they will call you back another time… really the fewer people you have to talk to the better. Lose the internet, for one day or half a day, trust me when you are tired the internet can just pull everything out of you… no one will miss you for a couple of hours – NO ONE!!! Otherwise I keep meals really simple, nothing that needs a recipe – usually something that you can grab and eat and dinner… well pasta and parmesan and we’re done. I hate missing school, I hate trying to catch up later… so a bare minimum school day looks like reading and math, and even that I have been known to cancel and double up the next day.
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  7. You Can’t Do it All: Enlist help. Somehow when you are exhausted even simple tasks seem insurmountable. The thought of going to the post office can seem like such a huge task when you have had no sleep… if no one offers then ask for help. It is not humble pie – it is desperation!!! I have never had someone say no when I have asked for help. I have never said to a friend – “Sorry, you are on your own!!!”
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  9. Take a Break: You just cannot catch up with “Things” when your kids are asleep. Really you can’t do everything. And you don’t have to sleep when your child sleeps but take a break. I took a long time to figure this one out, but lying on the bed waiting for a toddler to sleep and planning a “to do list” twenty miles long meant I wasn’t relaxed and they wouldn’t sleep. If you lie on the bed and read a book very often you will nod off and your child will sleep too. My first child was a hideous sleeper and I learnt early on that if I didn’t rest when he did I would fail dismally. You can clear the table with kids underfoot. You can cook dinner and talk to them, you can fold washing alongside where they are playing. But it is very hard to get the break you need while they are up and about.
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  11. Take a Regular Time Out: I anticipate that by the end of the week (every week!!!) I am going to be tired and need a bit of a catch up. I have a day off every week, usually Thursdays, when I only do essentials. We clean our house together and only do the bare minimum with school. I don’t invite anyone over and no chores except the absolute essentials. It is a bit of a catch up day, no projects, no cleaning out closets, no defrosting of freezers and definitely no building of barns. (Barn building is a post for another day!!!) Don’t be alarmed by the “we clean our house” either… keeping house is two very distinct projects: tidying and cleaning… tidying is a long-term ongoing relentless battle, cleaning is a swipe of the counters and a mop of the floor – if I did it all at once and didn’t attend to anyone or anything it would probably take half an hour to clean our entire house… but my life is a little bit interrupted and things take longer!!!
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  13. Get some Inspiration: I kept this poem on my fridge, until it disintegrated. and now I have the bits stuck into my diary. I have no idea who wrote it, or which magazine it came from but it inspires me and many times when I have thought: “Why don’t these little people just go to sleep…” this poem has inspired me to just keep on caring. I could insist on my “right to sleep” but really it is my privilege to serve these night time wanderers.
  14. When you hear your husband
    Crying in the dead of night
    Do you simply squeeze his hand
    And turn on the Goofy nightlight?

    Or how about your mother
    Weeping, wailing and highly strung
    Would you rush to comfort her
    Or shrug say “Good for her lungs!”

    What about your teenage son
    Hungry and begging before dawn.
    Could you ignore his pleas, giving water
    To get him through to morn?

    In fact, on hearing any other adult
    Wretched and having a good sob,
    Would you calmly close the door
    Having turned ’em over in the cot?

    If all these things sound harshly strange.
    And you simply could not do.
    How come it’s the way mothers are told
    To treat little ones not even two?

    And the Se7en + 1th thing:

  15. It Will Pass: We definitely go through seasons of bad sleep… a week or two and then we are back to sleep as it should be. When you are in a sleepless cycle it always feels forever… it isn’t!!! Hideous nights come to pass!!! Weeks without sleep pass too. We just need to remember, when we are in it, to do the best we can and that almost always means doing a whole lot less than we think we should.

That’s it – Hope it helps!!!

I popped this post onto the Works For Me Wednesday Site – go and have a look there for all sorts of tips on absolutely anything.

19 Replies to “Se7en Survives Sleep Deprivation…”

  1. Thanks! I needed that today. My youngest woke up throughout the night last night and he wouldn’t even lie next to me. Just squirmed and cried every hour. I especially love your poem. Makes perfect sense to me.

  2. Oh Ruby!!! Glad I could help… I so love that poem… it really reminds me to be a whole lot nicer at times when I may be feeling less lovely!!!! Hope you have a restful weekend!!!

  3. The poem at the end was my favourite part. My son wasn’t a good sleeper and it helped to remind myself every time he woke up (and there were many) that by being here for him in the wee hours of the morning I was nurturing him and helping him grow into a wonderful little boy. Looking back now, I’m glad I did pay so much time with him, just the 2 of us, in the overnights. He’s almost 2 now, and won’t even cuddle with me when he’s sleepy, he just wants his bunny and his crib so all I have are the memories of the overnights when he was only months old. OK, I’m getting teary now…

    I’m passing along an award to you…snifff snifffff

  4. my mom is visiting and my hubs in on vacation… which means I got to sleep in until 9:30am today. Talk about a slice of heaven!!!!! Your list is so on target… I agree that limited sleep = pure torture!

  5. Hi Jenn, I know the whole sleepless thing is pretty transient… my first born finally sleeps (he’s twelve!!!), I wasn’t blessed with a bunch of great sleepers… but I know when my kids are finally out of the house I am going to have to retrain myself to sleep like a person… hour after endless hour!!! Thanks for the award!!! I have to pass it on to fifteen blogs… and stay friends with them!!!! Now there’s a project for the weekend!!!

  6. Hay KM: 9:30… !!! We have been languishing really late in bed in the morning, hideous nights and falling asleep at dawn means for very slow starts!!! I train mine to very quietly read a book until everyone is up – of course if they are all quietly reading a book they have no idea that someone else is up!!!! As soon as two of them are awake together we have had it: jabber, jabber, jabber… My kids have SO much to say to each other after a night apart in dreamland, you would think they had been apart for years rather than mere hours!!! Have a super fun weekend… with lots of rest!!!

  7. Hay Aunty Muffin!!! Good to hear from you, a bunch of kids later I know it will pass!!! But I tell you the first time I thought it was forever and ever!!! Luckily eternity is so much longer than our day to day-ness!!! Have a great weekend!!!

  8. Thanks (She says through scratchy eyes), I will leave blog reading for later… Sorry other blogs! I’ll go put baby down and stay there awhile and hope the others don’t notice!

  9. Oh Olivia!!! Just when you think you are all alone!!! There are so many others who are battling to keep their weary eyes open!!! Hope you have a restful weekend!!!

  10. I really like that poem!

    I truly remember the sleepless nights. . . but, thankfully, I think I’m hitting that point of “memory knowledge” as opposed to “memory reality”. (Like everyone KNOWS babies can be up a lot at night, but until you live it, it isn’t a reality. And even after you’ve lived it, there’s a point where the reality of it is forgotten.)

  11. I really like the way you talk about kid’s night needs as a caring part of mothering – not as just something to be endured. My baby is 11 weeks and it’s amazing how many times I am asked if she is a good baby, which I assume means ‘does she sleep well? etc’. Not sleeping well doesn’t make her a bad baby in my books – I just think it is an odd question.

    Anyway, I think we mothers are given an extra bit of God’s grace to help us through ‘tired times’. I can even do what my kids call ‘sleep read’. I seriously will read aloud but be so close to asleep I don’t know what I’ve read. Then suddenly I will realize that I am ‘reading’ words that aren’t even on the page. It’s a little strange 🙂

    So, thanks for the tips and reminders. I better go sleep while my little one is asleep.

  12. OOh LindaOz – Congratulations!!! I had no idea you had a new little person!!! And don’t I know sleep reading – no correlation between the book and the words coming out of my mouth whatsoever!!! I guess the tone is right because nobody ever complains!!! Have a lovely restful weekend!!!

  13. Hi Christine – Talk about senior moments… I forget from child to child about the ummmmmm ennndless sleeplessssssss nightsss!!! Have a fun weekend with all your guys!!!

  14. Hi Sherrin, Anybody who seeks this post out needs all the help they can get!!! So I popped over to take a look at you sweet little baby – congrats on your little one – and welcome to the world sweet girl!!!

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