I know this trend is going to continue indefinitely. Once the baby comes there will be middle of the night nursing sessions and diaper changes every 2 - 3 hrs, and no naps for mom during most days, since the two older boys don't nap regularly.
This is not new to me, since Andrew was not a good sleeper, and woke regularly once or twice a night until he was four or so. Sleep deprivation has been a pretty constant companion since I had children.
So, what can you do to get through the day when you feel like your head is full of cotton balls and you can barely drag your feet off the ground? Here's a few of my suggestions:
- - let go of unimportant tasks - do only essential household chores. This is not the time to decide to scrub the walls or wash the windows. This will only exhaust your further.
- - if you can't sleep, at least rest - ask yourself what you can do that will take the least amount of energy. Read your toddler books or do puzzles or draw - anything that will keep their attention and not require a lot of activity on your part is good.
- - take care of your body - make sure you are not making things worse by being hungry, thirsty or feeling blechy. Drink water, eat healthy food, brush your hair and put on some clothes that are not going to bother you. You will still be tired, but at least you will be otherwise comfortable.
- - ask older kids to do things for you - if I leave everything accessible, my oldest son is now capable of getting cereal or toast for him and his brother. This means I can ask him to get breakfast while I catch 20 more minutes of sleep. I now sleep until 6am wether the boys are awake or not, since they can meet their own needs in the morning.
- - drive places you would usually walk to - I am a big fan of walking wherever we can. I like to get us all out in the fresh air, get some exercise and explore the town. But when I am really tired, I drive two blocks to the park. If I exhaust myself in the afternoon, I will not have the energy to make it through the day.
- - be proactive with your kids - if you see them starting to get squirrely, send them out in the yard before they start fighting. If its is close to snack time, give them a snack before they start to melt down. Put your toddler in time out the first time he does something, so he doesn't escalate the stakes to see how far he can go. I remind myself that even though I am tired, the more I do now the less I will have to do later.
- - keep your temper - don't waste your energy on stupid arguments or on getting frustrated. Shut down conflict with your kids as quickly as possible. I find that this is not the time to try to talk about feelings or reason with angry children or identify emotional roots to problems. When you are tired, it is time to send them to their room until they stop screaming, so that only one of you is screaming
- - call in the reinforcements - do you have family locally? Give them a call and ask if they can take the kids for a few hours. Can your husband come home for lunch? Have lunch ready when he gets there and nap while he eats with the kids. Hire a teenager to come once or twice a week so you can nap while they play with the kids.
- - focus on the present - when I am tired I tend to drift. I daydream, I analyze the past (never a smart thing to try to do while you are tired) and I am generally more prone to introspection and distraction. Focusing on what is going on around me, and letting everything else go for the time being (since I am too tired to come to any rational conclusions anyway) is really the best thing I can do.
What do you do when you are tired to keep things sane?