I am a mom and I sleep. In fact, I get 8 hours of sleep every night. I swear, I really do. In fact, my entire family of 5 are terrific sleepers. But, who cares about them, I want to focus on all of you, my fellow parents, and share the scary step I took to go from a lifetime of insomnia to sleeping like a baby. Why should this be important to you? The reality is, sleep is the #1 way to be a better parent, because when you are rested you are better able to handle your little monster spawn. How did I get to this place in my life, what’s the secret sauce? Therapy, therapy, therapy.
I have had a long love-hate affair with sleep my entire life. It began with my first job after college, the stress waking me up at 2 a.m. Fast forward 10 years later to the birth of my first son, where it would take me hours to fall back asleep after the night feedings. And even after he started sleeping through the night, the stress of the day was still on me, and I would wake thinking, "Is that him crying?". Um, no, crazy mommy, he is sleeping, so why aren't you?
But, when my first son turned two, I decided I’d had had enough of the anxiety filled days and sleepless nights. Enough of the stress over my to-do list, my non-stop Swiffering, my burning need to never leave a dirty dish in the sink, my failure to relax, to even take a breath. Enough of my complete lack of enjoyment of my child or being a mom. I started therapy.
I know, therapy is a scary word, often done only in the dark and without telling anyone. My parents didn’t talk about it, neither did my friends. But what I started out by thinking might be something hard and scary, turned out to be pretty darn easy. In one call I found a therapist that was right near my house and in my insurance network. I took an hour out of my week and in doing just these simple things, I changed my life.
Therapy has chilled me out. It’s taken away the heaviness in my chest and all around soothed my brain. I can’t promise it is all going to be easy, it wasn’t for me. Like anyone, I’ve had my share of crap to deal with. I now have 3 boys (that’s enough to make anyone cry), my mom disowned me and then died, my step-dad died, my husband and I built 2 homes and I started my own business. Yowsa!
But going to therapy when needed helped me keep it together. I opened myself up to a complete stranger, albeit a professional and trained one, and for once in my life, I got to have a conversations that was 100% about me. That alone is worth the price of admission. My therapist gave me ideas to better manage my life, and be the boss of my crazy. Therapy soothes my worries and fears and now I sleep like my own 3 babies.
Every year millions of women raising children will suffer from a mood or anxiety disorder. If you are worried about it you are not alone and you can get help. It’s really not that hard to do, make a few phone calls, drive to an appointment, done. Your only barrier is you. If you don’t want to do it for yourself, do it for your kids, because taking care of you, is taking care of your kids.