The old saying “sleep when the baby sleeps!” sounds so reasonable and hopeful and optimistic. Why of course! I should sleep when the baby sleeps. But the problem with that old saying is that it conveniently forgets about the pesky little truth called life. Life keeps happening even though there is a newborn in the house. Laundry needs to be done, the dishwasher won’t empty itself, groceries must be bought. Oh, and other kids need attention and love and care.
Our six week old twins Elinor and Juliet are pretty good sleepers. The only little issue is that there are two of them, and two good sleepers do not equal one good night’s sleep for me. So I’m making it through the long nights that are short on sleep by sticking to the following:
1. Mind Over Matter
If I wake up super tired, I have two choices. 1) I can act super tired all day or 2) I can not act super tired all day. Most days, I choose #2. As soon as my eyeballs greet the new day sun, I psyche myself into believing TODAY IS GOING TO BE A GREAT DAY! and, you know what, this mental trickery usually works! Wake up, take a shower, put on some decent clothes (and mascara!!), eat a nice breakfast. Amazing what a positive attitude can do for a weary soul!
2. Don’t Talk About It. Ever.
I occasionally comment on my tiredness to my husband, but for the most part I avoid mentioning it to anyone else. Of course people ask how I am sleeping, so I answer honestly, but I quickly move on to a different subject. Dwelling on my tiredness does nothing to make it go away, and dragging others into my pit of despair doesn’t help, either. And, anyway, most of the world is tired for various reasons, and every one knows a new mother is tired, so it is just a really boring thing to talk about.
3. Go to Bed for the Night When the Baby Does
We didn’t figure this out until Ben (baby #4), but it is LIFE CHANGING. The longest sleep stretch for our babies has always been the first one of the night – right now, Elinor and Juliet will go from 9 pm – 12:30 am, after which they take turns waking up every hour. So, for me, that first 3 1/2 hour stretch is critical. Crucial, actually. It is my only chance at a few successive hours of uninterrupted sleep. Of course I am tempted to stay up later to chat with my husband, read the big kids a dozen more books, or catch up on the latest Bravo reality show. But, at this time in my life those are just not possibilities because I NEED sleep.
4. Remember the Light at the End of the Tunnel
Elinor and Juliet are babies #5 & 6 for us, so we know this sleepless phase doesn’t last forever. Someday they will sleep through the night! Someday my brain will function at normal capacity again! Someday isn’t now, though, so I have to muddle through.
5. Stay Positive.
I know I am beyond lucky/blessed/fortunate to have these little six week old miracles. I know it. Rather than dwell on the the negative aspects of raising new babies, I like to offer up my gratitude instead. Plenty of mamas are waiting for their sleepless nights with a newborn, so I won’t take mine for granted.
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