I was speaking with a friend, mother of 3, including a new baby of 3 months. Any on-looker could say she had it all. However, she wasn’t feeling happy. Looker’s on could also guess just as well some of the reasons why. Especially those of us who’ve raised infants. It’s called sleep. Sleep, the elixir of good living. Without it, color fades. Sounds and voices take on an edge like the underside of a long fingernail. Our thoughts swim about in a mire. Finding words is confusing and speaking them reduces us to… to what? Well you’ve been there where my friend found herself struggling to say why she wanted to cry and beat her children. Just to hear her is enough to make your milk let down.
Hearing someone say get sleep is uncomfortable. It brings up all the cultural reasons why we don’t get sleep, the emotional reasons, the relationship reasons, and the reasons around discipline. Well, whatever it makes you feel or think, it comes down to biology. You won’t feel good and be healthy emotionally and be able to do things you want to do for others if your body and brain isn’t getting restored at night. So losing sleep may feel like a sacrifice you’re doing for your new baby or husband who wants to stay up and watch movies together, and it may. However it is also other things. Losing sleep is taking yourself away from them tomorrow. It takes from your own journey, disconnects you from your own self. Losing sleep is a biological cascade that leads to deteriorating goals, including your ability to give well.
There is sacrifice also in letting your child cry for 5 more minutes before going to him at night. There is sacrifice in going to sleep instead of staying up to play with someone you love. Don’t be fooled in to thinking that you’re getting your child from her crib when she cries for 30 seconds for her sake. Don’t be fooled into a mother’s martyrdom. Babies are also healthier when allowed to self soothe. Babies are healthier when they learn to put themselves to sleep if they awaken at night. To get good sleep, look past the guilt, look past the immediate pleasure, look past the distraction, look past and see yourself as you will be tomorrow. Let that be the sacrifice in your life. A healthy mom, a healthy wife, and healthy individual for those you love. Sleep for your own valuable self. You have a chance to live well.
Self Care Tip #3: Get sleep for any reason that makes sense to you, but sleep. Be a friend to yourself.