On my birthday, last May, I left my then 5-month-old asleep in his pram outside my eldest son’s nursery. I had made it 100 yards up the road before I realised. I ran faster than I ever have in adulthood, abandoning my eldest with another nursery pupil’s nanny I’d only just met. Not my finest moment.
Thankfully the entrance to the nursery, and where I had left my baby, was behind some gates. Within those gates and tucked away in a corner is a garden table and benches where other mothers sometimes give their children packed lunches.
On this sunny May afternoon there were many…I ran past panting loudly towards the teacher who by now had realised what had happened and was gently pushing my pram backwards and forwards. I walked back passed the bemused mothers, this time pushing a pram.
It was the walk of shame! And I’m afraid it slightly dampened the birthday mood…I’d left our dog tied to the scooter parking area before but this was a much more crushing experience.
A week or so later after the nursery drop off I was casually saying goodbye to the other mothers.
One, who I know lives in the opposite direction to me, was walking alongside me. I casually asked her where she was going. “To your house for coffee,” she said.
It transpired that I had invited her round the week before. Highly embarrassing! That same day I was preparing an omelette for the children’s tea when I cracked the eggs into the bin instead of the bowl I had strategically placed nearby.
What was going on with my brain?!
Lack of sleep – that’s what.
We can’t function properly without sleep. And I wasn’t getting nearly enough. But I don’t like going to bed as those hours after the children have been put down are pure gold. Consequently, I insist on staying up much, much later than I should.
“I’m desperate for some ME time!” I say hysterically to my husband when he suggests the answer to my problems is an early night.
He’s right, I know, but because he’s right and I’m tired he is obviously wrong. As the time I was getting up several times through the night with my youngest so it wasn’t like I was getting a great amount of sleep anyway – or so I told myself.
The thought that after a whole day of running after our children I should go straight to bed rather than catching up on my favourite TV programme felt like a waste of my life. Yet this mind-set is so counterintuitive and in turn just feeds this way of thinking.
Sadly, we’re not fitted with Tachographs, but we should be!
There’s a reason why they’re used on goods vehicles where drivers travel long distances.
Lack of sleep, as demonstrated in my case, can lead to forgetfulness, absent-mindedness, poor decision making and some very awkward conversations.
Furthermore, lack of sleep/rest can lead to health problems. A recent study by the University of Washington published in the journal Sleep shows that sleep deprivation weakens the immune system – hardly surprising.
In the end I relented. I had a few early nights and, lo and behold, I started feeling much more in control of my actions. I had more energy and, above all, PATIENCE. I wasn’t as forgetful as I had been, thank goodness, although I still did, and do, have my moments. After all, even with heaps of sleep, we still have so much to remember!
Getting to bed at a reasonable time and, if you can, creating an atmosphere if relaxation, should enable you to achieve a good quality and quantity of sleep.
Here are a few things that helped me:
- Create your own sleep routine: I’ve set two alarms on my phone for the evening. The first one goes off to remind me to start getting ready for bed. The second one warns me I have to have lights off soon. It works most of the time!
- Hot Milk/Herbal Tea: I’ve found that having a warm drink before bed creates an atmosphere of relaxation. Try to avoid having caffeine after the morning if you can.
- Bath: It’s a small way to make time for you that’s far more beneficial than that TV programme. I don’t do it anywhere near enough. Good for limbs, mind and sleep. Get some Magnesium bath salts if you can… they do amazing things.
- Reading: Whether this is something which sends you to sleep, or that you love that helps you wind down – both achieve the same objective. If your poison is yoga or something else, same thing applies. Whatever it is, do it every evening and do not be tempted to dick around on Instagram or Facebook just before bed.
- Exercise: If you’re active in the day you sleep better. If you’re literally running around after children all day this counts as exercise but it’s also good to do some exercise on your own as it gives you some headspace. Yoga, pilates, an evening jog, all good.