It’s January. We’re all a little fed up. But we’re also jumping pretty damn hard and fast on the rejuvenating band wagon. One thing I’ve learned over this winter, is how self-care is vital for Momma and Papa Bear. Over January I plan on posting a few blogs about putting yourself first. We all know, if Momma Bear is weary, the house gets weary.
Today’s post is about finding a bit of shut-eye when babies make it seem impossible, toddlers lure you into false hope and young kids incessantly repeat your name! Sleep can happen. It just needs a little bit of prioritising.
Becoming a mother is one of the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences in the world, but it isn’t an easy one! Motherhood takes over and launches us into overdrive. We usually put ourselves to the end of the list. Sleep in particular, becomes a distant memory for new moms and let’s face it, veteran moms don’t always get their ordinary quota of sleep.
We need our sleep. Our downtime. Our head space. Sacrificing our sleep to get things done, does no one any good. I was one of the worst for this when Little Miss was born. “But I have to…” was my mantra. I’ve come to realise however, when Momma Bear is refreshed and rejuvenated, the clock starts ticking in time again.
How do we get that sleep? And can we hit the snooze button, even once?
Ask for Help
I’m the type of person who likes to do everything for themselves. Apparently friends and family find it infuriating because I rarely ask for help.
I’ve changed. Oh have I changed. If someone says they will mind the kids for a few hours, I’m on them like a rash! I rarely say no these days, because I know how important it is to accept help.
This is the number one tip and probably the most essential one because you can’t do it all alone and expect to get the necessary shut-eye at the same time – it’s just not possible.
Ask for help from your partner, parents, parents-in-law, relatives and even friends to help you get at least six-hours of sleep every day. Feck it, four will even do on some days. Unbroken! It usually has to be a joint effort from more than just one person, so the more people you have ready and willing to help, the better. Work out an arrangement with them that lets you get some sleep, without hampering their schedules too much.
Pump and Bottle Breast Milk in Advance
If you are nursing, then pump a bottle of breast milk in advance so that someone else can feed the baby when he/she is hungry, without having to wake you up. A bottle of pumped breast milk is assurance of an extra few hours of sleep, so it is worth seriously considering.
Now, I know this has complications in itself for babies who won’t feed from a bottle or are unwilling participants in the game of “Just drink the darn milk!” But find a way that works best for you and baby to ensure some down time for you.
Find the Best Mattress for You
Scientific research has shown that the quality of sleep is even more important than the total snooze time. What this means is that even a 2 – 3 hour-long nap is sometimes better than long restless nights on an uncomfortable bed. Our mattress is quite a few years old. I can’t bring myself to publish how many! Lately, I’ve noticed the lumps and bumps and the pain in my body makes me think I’m royalty – think the princess and the pea! We’re investing in a new one soon.
Visit The Mattress Nerd if you want to find the best mattress for your specific needs, because a good bed can ensure that new moms get the most out of even the shortest of naps. You might even be surprised at how much rested you feel after switching over to a better mattress, in spite of sleeping the same hours as you did before.
Opt for an Attached Bassinet
My absolute necessity when we brought Little Bean home was a bassinet attached to our bed. Knowing I was going to have a C Section meant my manoeuvrability would not be top-notch and leaping out of the bed to see to Little Bean was not on my wish list when I knew I would need as much sleep as possible.
This isn’t a solitary solution on its own because you will still have to wake up and handle the baby, but being able to do so without needing to get out of the bed is definitely a better option than running to the next room or even swiping your feet out from under your duvet in the middle of the night! It also makes it easier to go back to sleep once you are done.
Don’t Rely on Coffee Too Much
It’s easy to say that new moms should skip coffee entirely as caffeine does interfere with sleep, but that isn’t always the most practical solution. After all, caffeine helps us stay awake after sleeping just two hours the previous night, so a cup or two of coffee is definitely required.
However, it is also important to ensure that the stimulating effects of caffeine aren’t keeping you from sleeping when there’s opportunity to sleep. This is why tea is going to be a better option, as it contains caffeine but not enough of it to interfere with your normal sleeping patterns. Drink a cup of coffee in the morning, and stick to tea for the rest of the day to get the best of both worlds. Oh I do love my tea!
Sleep Every Chance You Get
Yeah yeah yeah I know! We’ve all heard it and scoffed at it a thousand times over but it is the truth. I’ve been known to close my eyes and be asleep within seconds. It’s a skill! And if I feel the need to (and the kids are obviously safe) I will close my eyes and breath. Relaxing is almost as important as sleeping. But wherever, whenever you can, close those eyes.
Babies generally follow a definite eat/sleep pattern once they get used to it, so the idea is to adjust your own sleeping schedule according to that of your child. Sleep every chance you get and do not worry too much about sleeping during the night. A good night’s sleep will still help, but getting in multiple naps throughout the day is a better strategy to cope with the tiring schedule of being a new mother.
It isn’t uncommon to find deteriorating health conditions in new moms, and while there can be other factors that contribute to that trend, loss of sleep is almost always the common culprit. Aside from health issues, you are likely to make dangerous mistakes while driving, or even walking, if you are not getting the necessary amount of sleep for a long period of time.
Remember, lack of sleep, thankfully, is a temporary situation that will improve with time. In fact, an upcoming self-care blog will be about how we changed Little Beams sleeping habits! And it has been revolutionary for our family!