Sleep has always been a good friend of mine. When I was little, my mom had to crawl under a stall at The Ponderosa (who remembers that restaurant?) because I had fallen sleep while sitting on the toilet. Nowadays, if I’m in a reclining position on the couch, I will be asleep within 45 minutes of the movie starting. When I’m tired, I shut down. Before I had a child, I worked in a job that required long, late hours in short compressed time periods. I got used to fighting through my otherwise strong desire to be asleep in order to TCB. Like the time at approximately 2:00 a.m. that I single-handedly SAVED THE STATE BUDGET. Just kidding, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But I had to use quick thinking on no sleep with an incompetent manager over my shoulder to figure out computer problems when figuring out computer problems was not remotely one of my job duties. So I thought the first few months of motherhood would be a breeze. They were not.
Lack of sleep was not necessarily a culprit for the difficult time I had, and like most mothers everywhere, regardless of whatever is personally ailing you, you keep going. You keep taking care of the kids, the house, everything, barely acknowledging that something may be amiss with you. It didn’t really matter that I like sleep a lot but was not getting as much as I would like. I always feel it is some sort of sick and twisted fact of life that a lot of us spend an inordinate amount of time praying, begging, and pleading for our children to just go to sleep when at that very moment, being able to go to sleep yourself is the only thing you really want. In the past few months, my son (who has been a fairly good sleeper all along) migrated from a 7:30/8 bedtime to a 9/9:30 bedtime. Although I should be grateful for the time I had when he was in bed by 8, this cosmic shift in bedtime has significantly decreased the amount of awake time I have available to get things done. I pretty much like to be wrapping things up by 10 p.m., but with the new later bedtime, that leaves barely enough time for me to even decompress from the day, let alone pick up around the house and get ready for the next day.
All of this has led me to realize a Universal Truth of Parenthood that perhaps the more organized and motivated among us have already embraced: forget, at least for the time being, any grandiose ideas you had of the proper number of hours you should be sleeping each night. Instead, and here’s the advice, you will need to decide whether to shave hours off your sleep at night or in the morning. For the night owls and the early birds, this is probably an easy choice. But for those of us who are neither, this will be a struggle to sort out. In fact, I’m only in the beginning stages of accepting this reality, and I have yet to even try staying up later or waking up earlier (which explains the state of my hair lately :/). So help a sleep-loving mom out: what works for you?