The holidays are over. Fun, food, gifts, family, visiting…
… wait… where’d my SLEEP go?!!! I’m sure one is supposed to get at least ONE morning to sleep in during the holiday break!
You mean I missed it? I missed my chance?
I’m going to lay my head on the table and cry now.
Sackett Man kindly told me the other day that my being tired right now, in this third trimester, is good practice for March. If I think I’m tired now…! Ohhh, just wait! Of course I refrained from pointing out that we have three children already, so I am well aware of the malady that afflicts twelve out of ten mothers who have new infants. Somnus Privatio is the technical term. We know it by it’s common name: sleep deprivation.
I have been feeling the effects of Somnus Privatio most acutely this pregnancy, and was interested in the possible causes. I first looked up the effect on the mother’s body of growing a human being from scratch. It’s actually quite incredible and also a bit… well, almost unbelievable. Did you know that in order to successful nurture and grow another human being, the energy output of the body is equivalent to running a marathon? Every day? Without having trained first?
No wonder I’m tired. I’ve been running a marathon every day for 202 days!
I also have kids. Three of them. Did you know that kids are a major cause of Somnus Privatio among parents?
I’m pregnant, and a stay-at-home mom of three, and I homeschool. I have Somnus Privatio coming out of my ears.
To combat this fatigue, experts say one should get plenty of safe exercise, lots of sleep, and naps. One should schedule one’s nightly routine so that one always goes to bed at the same time, and make sure you get 10-12 hours of sleep. Don’t eat 2-3 hours before you go to bed, but a eat a snack right before lying down to combat any heartburn or queasiness! Don’t work too much in the evening as that will keep your energy levels up and mess with being able to go to sleep. If you’re tired, sleep! 30 minute catnaps through-out the day, whenever you need one.
Now I realize that much of this advice is for new mothers who have the luxury of owning their own schedule. But what about for us veterans who lost said ownership years ago?
Safe exercise? I’ve decided that taking care of three children under the age of six counts.
A scheduled nightly routine? My kids have a nightly routine. Mine consists of ‘get done what I can now that the kids are in bed, fit in time with Sackett Man, and hope I remember to brush my teeth before I topple over on the couch in the middle of what I’m doing!’
I’m kidding. It’s not really that bad.
(Yes it is.)
10-12 hours of sleep? That sounds lovely! When I’m retired and mature that luxury will at last be mine! Mwa ha ha! For now I’ll have to do with 7-8 hours. Chopped up into little bitty pieces with bathroom breaks, little kids, and a teething toddler. (So make it 5-7, depending on the night.)
Don’t eat too close to bedtime, but eat something so that you don’t get heartburn? Well, because I’m efficient and organized… (don’t laugh! I heard you laughing!)… I like to combine the two and just get it over with in one go.
Don’t work too much in the evening? A) If I have work that needs to get done, guess what… it needs to get done. My husband and children like having clean dishes to eat on and clothes to wear. B) By the time evening rolls around, if I don’t have to do any work (aka: Sackett Man did the dishwasher, and no one is in danger of needing to wear a pillow case or towels the next day) I’m usually way past the point of of even contemplating more work, much less doing it.
“If you’re tired, sleep. Take as many naps as you need.” Okay, this is my favorite one. Really. Because in my experience, unless you’re lucky enough to be staying at home even before children, you can’t sleep whenever you want. Much less when you have kids! I can’t even take a 2 minute bathroom break without something happening. What would happen if I checked out for 30 minutes?!
“Sir, do you have any idea what happened here today?”
“No, officer. I came home to a pile of smoking ruins, my kids in a tree looking like Call of the Wild, and my wife standing in the middle of it all in a crazed daze muttering ‘I just took a nap. All I did was take a nap!’ ”
I even get this advice from the nurses and doctors when I go in for my prenatal appointments. I’m tired? Take a nap. Get more sleep. Take a relaxing bubble bath. Go in for a spa treatment. Read.
Again, I know that 99.9999999999% of the advice is for new mothers. You know what is lacking? Practical advice for the rest of us. What can we do when we’re tired?!
Someone needs to write a book.
Here are some things that I do:
A) Sackett Man and I had several conversations, and I ‘accidentally’ left some web pages open on the exhausting effects of pregnancy upon the woman. So he knows, is aware, and I ask for help. I don’t whine about my aches and pains and weariness and the kids and whatnot, and then expect him to magically know what I need. I ask for it. I say: “I did this and this, and we (I and the kids) did this and this. I’m really tired and sore now, and really need to sit down. Could you switch the load that’s in the washer, and load the dishwasher after supper? That would help me so much!”
And guess what? He’s happy to do it!
B) I drink tea. No, I’m not kidding. I avoid almost all herbal teas as there’s this whole what’s-safe-and-what-isn’t thing. I drink: black tea, green tea, and peppermint tea. I am quite serious when I say that a cup of hot peppermint tea is relaxing and rejuvenating (I don’t care if it’s only in my head; it works).
C) I try to stay organized. I get up one morning, and sit down with a steaming cup of coffee. One cup of caffeine is not going to kill you or harm the baby, I promise. Just don’t drink 3 or 4. I open my planner and my computer, and I take the time to organize my calendar and plan my son’s school, my doctor’s appointments, the grocery lists… whatever I can think of. One day of organizing can take the stress (and thus weariness) out of a dozen weeks.
D) I cut back on sugar. No, I’m not on a sugar-free thing. I just try to eat smart. I eat lots of vegetables, good grains, hearty proteins… I don’t put sugar in my coffee anymore (sadness) because it’s one daily thing that can make a big difference. No harm in indulging a bit during the holidays or if you get that sweet-tooth craving, but all in all… moderation! Moderation! Moderation! Also, if you can’t or don’t eat a lot of that good-fatty-fish doctor’s like us to eat, take fish oil. I get the enteric coated fish oil (the coating keeps that fishy after-taste from happening!). Fish oil does amazing things in regards to health and mental/emotional feel-good. I started taking it when I suffered postpartum depression after my first pregnancy, and I’ve never stopped! A healthy diet can help more than you realize when it comes to weariness.
C) I don’t ‘exercise’ when I’m pregnant, but I don’t just sit back either. Firstly because I can’t. I have three children depending on me. And I firmly subscribe to the belief that: If you don’t use it, you lose it. Lift those laundry baskets and keep your arms trim! Use your abs when you do things, not so that it hurts and you end up with sore crampy muscles, but so that you can feel them working. When you lift things or do stairs, use those leg muscles and buttocks! Tighten it up! You’d be amazed at how much you can stay fit just doing the everyday. And when it comes time to have the baby, you’ll be so glad you did. Keeping yourself moving does actually help combat weariness (even if it does nothing more than distract you!).
D) Realize and accept that you won’t get it all done, and that’s okay. Pick what needs to be done. Your family needs clean clothes. Clean dishes. Food. Your kids need your time. Your husband needs your time, too. (A healthy marriage makes for a much healthier, happier family.) The floors should be swept once a week. Clean the toilet every week or two. Change the bedding every couple of weeks. Make sure the cat gets fed every day. You know, the important stuff. Because you know what your kids will remember the most later on? You. Not the corners of the carpet being crumb-and-fuzz-free, not the house being Martha-Stewart-perfect. You. Did you take care of them and love them? Or were you crabby because you were over-stressed trying to do it all?
E) Do set a time of evening when you stop moving. If someone needs underwear and socks, throw them in the washer earlier in the day so that all you need to do is throw them in the dryer that evening. They can rummage in the dryer the next morning for their clean underwear. Somewhere between 8:30 and 9:30 at night is when I stop. And I mean stop. I don’t think about the work around me, the next day, the next week… (unless there’s something that needs to be thought about)… I just relax and be. I open my eyes and look at my Sackett Man. I breathe. I recline against the couch pillows. I watch whatever it is we choose to watch. I talk with my beloved about whatever (the day, some frustration I have, a problem, the new movies coming out in theater, what our favorite foods are…). I rub his neck, he rubs mine. My thoughts wander hither and yon, or just settle and I go blissfully blank. I let myself get tired and drift off. And after a while Sackett Man gently rouses me enough that I can walk to bed, and I crawl under the covers and return to sleep.
And pray that none of the three critters in their rooms wakes up before dawn.