“You’ll never sleep again,” the seasoned dad jokingly remarked to me, while pregnant with my first child. I laughed nervously. He laughed knowingly. And now, eight years and six kids later (including my surprise triplets), I understand he was being completely honest. Yes, the babies do eventually learn how to sleep, but there’s always interruptions—teething, illnesses, bad dreams, sleepwalking, just wanting to be close to you, having a “clunky throat” as my four year old says, having a sibling snore too loud—the list is endless. If you’re like me, the days and nights blur together, and there is no separate sleepwear versus daywear. There’s just clothes you wear during the day and then keep wearing when you fall asleep on the couch and drag yourself to bed. And let’s not even talk about dental care and skin care at night—I’m lucky if I do one or the other. If I do both, it’s really a banner day worthy of a call to my dermatologist and dentist.
I have no magical tools to get more sleep. I've read every book and tried every method, but I believe every baby is different, and different things work for different babies. You know your baby better than anyone else, so don't discount your own instincts in figuring out what works for you.
Even though I have no words of wisdom for getting that baby to sleep, I do have a few tried-and-true methods to feel better when I’m running on fumes and caffeine:
More caffeine. Hit up that drive-through coffee shop and splurge on your favorite coffee drink. Oh, you just splurged on it yesterday too? No judgment here, if you’re sleep deprived, every day is a new day for a coffee splurge, so go ahead and make it a Venti vanilla latte.
Fake it til you make it. This is a biggie. When I’m super exhausted and want to crawl back into bed, I put on real, presentable clothes instead of yoga pants and a t-shirt. Because let's face it, napping when they nap isn't really going to happen. So instead, I put together my best self to tackle the longest of days. I put on mascara AND eyeliner, in addition to the standard undereye concealer. And perfume. And probably lots of deodorant too. I make a conscious effort to look more presentable, because it helps me feel more awake. When I do those things, I feel like I’m more ready to take on the day, even if I’m exhausted and just want to take a nap in my car.
Get outside. The bright sky, the wind—it all helps you feel more awake and alive. Go for a walk with the kids, go for a bike ride, or just sit on a park bench together and drink that Venti latte. And if it’s raining and dreary, well, at least you got some fresh air, right?
Meet up with friends. The clock ticks extra slow on those days when you’re really exhausted. Meeting up with friends helps the time go by faster, and it’s always fun to connect with other parents. Commiserate together and share your sleep-deprived stories.
Remembering it won’t always be like this. Last night, that long night when the baby woke up four times and then the toddler woke up and you sat on the couch while she ate goldfish? Tomorrow is another day. Hopefully a better one. And yes, there will be more interruptions to your sleep, but one day, it will happen and they’ll all sleep all night. Right?.... Right? Let’s just say yes.