Babies are incredibly precious, however the accompanying sleep deprivation can be, quite honestly, incredibly horrendous. Here are a five ideas to cope with your sleep deprivation today:
1. Caffeine- to intake or not to intake?
You may want to allow yourself a little (or a lot!) of wake-up juice. Just keep in mind that too much can develop a pretty gripping habit that you will have to break later. Nursing babies can be affected by your caffeine consumption, so consider having your cup of joe while nursing to allow your body time to break it down before the next feeding.
2. Scheduling tasks (or not)
Make a list of your priorities in life, and see if what really needs to be done actually fits that list. Plan your most difficult or least favored tasks early in the day. Accept help or hand off tasks to other family members, simplify meals, and go easy on yourself. If you cannot check much off the to-do list, take heart in knowing that you did accomplish caring for your little one.
3. Adjust your sleep
Our babies went from waking during the night to starting every day at 4:30 am, which I allowed, so as to avoid crib crying that would wake other family members. Baby and I lounged our way into dawn on the couch to ease the pain of the early start. Time with baby is precious, treasured time…but so is nap time!
Some people choose to nap with baby, while others aim for nap time in the crib to free up that time for themselves. Sleeping while baby sleeps is easy to say, tough to do when tasks await, and quite impossible if other children need you. When baby naps, do whatever you can to put older children down or to have them rest (books, audiostories, busy bags…) For you to have both sleep and free time during baby’s nap, consider setting an alarm for a twenty to thirty minute power nap. Just be sure to set two alarms if you are to pick up older children from school!
Lastly, if you can, try going to bed early every night during the newborn stage and once a week thereafter. If you suffer from untimely insomnia due to swinging sleep schedules, you may need to rethink your caffeine schedule, and get room-darkening shades or a sleep mask and earplugs (with your spouse on duty!)
4. Find your village
Joining a local MOPs or other group for mothers can be just the place to take your sleepy soul (just be careful driving!) It is comforting to talk with others going through the same stages and struggles and you can glean tips and ideas from each others’ experiences. You may even be able to establish a babysitting cooperative to watch each others’ children and, in turn, find an hour to yourself.
5. Consider your outlook
Confession time: I am not the best at dealing with sleep-deprivation. In fact, I come from a long line of people who truly need eight hours of sleep a night! My first child brought stressful bouts of anxiety, making sleep difficult in the early days. With each baby, I was so dazed that I was justified in worrying about dropping the baby or leaving the stove on. To cope, I sought help and did the very best I could, which was never perfect!
It took a while, but I finally came to the realization that the number one issue in my sleep-deprived drudgery was attitude. If I spent the day bemoaning the fact that I was so utterly tired, then I became even more so. The days I went to my knees in prayer, avoided complaining, and counted my blessings were the days I had twice the energy- and they are the ones I look back on as the happiest memories!