Not long ago, I found out I've been 'drunk' the last three and a half years. Go figure. Who knew. Hello, my name is Jill... and I'm a tired mother. (Which basically means I haven't slept as much as I've biologically needed to... just like you, I'm guessing.)
According to renown pediatrician and best selling author of The Happiest Baby on the Block Dr. Harvey Karp, I've been functioning as though I've been drunk. He told me so himself - in person - at one of the many family events we've participated in together in Los Angeles. Dr. Karp says: Those who go through daily routines on six hours or less of sleep per night are operating with the same brainpower, perception and energy level of someone who is drunk. He's right.
So, ok. I've been drunk. (You too?) I guess we can do what any drunk person would do... laugh:
But then there's the serious part about how lack of sleep affects health, mood and all sorts of quality of life things. This is the part that angers me. (When you're tired, you do get angry quicker.)
Despite my ridiculous behavior in the video above, I've actually been a vigilant protector of sleep for both my girls, myself and my husband since Day One of Motherhood. I've educated myself and followed credible expert recommendations to no end: I established the newborn routine of sleep-time/wake-time, I encourage active outdoor play and enforce nap-time through toddlerhood, I stick to a dimly-lit bath & light snack routine for bedtime and read stories with a soft voice -- a process that doesn't exceed the expert suggested 30-minute window for effective bed-time wind-down. I regulate the room temperature so that it hovers around 68 degrees. My girls' bedspreads are LAVENDER for heaven's sake. (I also spray a fresh essential oil over their precious beds and heads just before lights-out to try and ease them to drift off.) I've been consistent. I've been tender. I've been strict. I've sung lullabies in concert-series medleys more times than I can count. I've violently bagged all their toys into a black garbage bag for a see-my-point showdown before their eyes because they failed to comply with my repeated requests to stop goofing off and just go to bed already.
I've done it all.
Done it all in the name of protecting sleep, benefitting physical and mental development and trying to make myself un-drunk for the next the day. It's all worked for my first daughter (now 5).
None of it is working for my second daughter (3-and-a-half).
My second girl is a walker, a stalker and a come-hell-or-high-water-I'm-going-to-make-you-co-sleep-with-me daughter. (For the record, I don’t co-sleep with my kids except for situations involving bad dreams, sickness and/or vacations that provide limited beds in a hotel room.) She's up and down multiple times a night, in our bed, out of our bed, whining about sleeping in her bed, complaining that she can't see her stuffed animals and on and on. The other night she barged into our room around 1am saying she couldn't find her hair bands for her pigtails. ?!?!?!? And then she'll pass out on me from exhaustion the next day.
Somebody pour me a drink.
I can't fight anymore. I surrender. Some folks might hate me for admitting this, but sleep has pretty much been my only real challenge with this parenting thing. Discipline? No problem. Rules? Nailing it. Sleep? I'm at a loss. My girl's never been a stellar sleeper... but she's always been my fearless wild child. Maybe this is just who she IS. I'm tired of battling about bedtime, getting in the bed, staying in the bed... and I'm not one to tire of battling easily.
Here's where I stand: I will ACCEPT it. I'll continue to stick to my rules, consistency and expert suggestions... but if the exact quality of sleep I'm seeking doesn't happen, then I'm finally ready to just cope accordingly. I'll nap during the day, if I must.
Maybe I'm drunk now.
They say acceptance is the bedrock to finding a new solution to a problem... So I'll try it: Dear Universe, I accept that my daughter never has been, currently is not, and might not ever be a sound sleeper. I promise to bounce and cope and deal and parent with simultaneous firmness and patience. Despite any and all results (or lack thereof), I will not allow myself to get frustrated. I hereby surrender to The Parenthood.
Cheers to that.