Part 2: Daytime Solutions After A Rough Night
So last week we talked about some ways to handle parenting at night. (If you missed that article, check it out here). This week we are going to go through some options for what you can do to survive through the day.
It is 5:30 in the morning. You last fed your baby at 4, and only laid your head on your pillow an hour ago. Yet your alarm clock (a crying baby) is going off to the tune of your headache. Great. You’re quite sure, rounding up, that you only got about four hours of sleep last night. What do you do next?
First of all, let go any expectations you have of yourself. The only perfect mother is Our Lady. While emulating her is admirable and to be desired, the photos we see on Pinterest don’t show us what life really looks like when little ones are using the floor as a table-maze-mineyard. On a day like the one I described, you aren’t in your best form. Smiling is a challenge. Your limits are being pushed. Focus on taking care of your and your family’s essential needs. Eating, sleeping, and diaper changed. Everything else can wait until tomorrow.
One of the most helpful methods I’ve found of dealing with a wide awake baby on an “I-am-not-awake” day is to find activities we can do together on the floor. Early on this often looked like playing on a baby play mat with me lying beside with my head on a cushion. Now that Little Fox can crawl, it is a lot more like climb all over me. I also fill a dollar store green bucket with different safe items from around the house which she loves to dump out and explore.
If laying down doesn’t help you rest and relax, you may want to try going for a walk. The fresh air and daylight can do wonders for helping you to wake up for a bit. Personally, I only find it helpful when I’ve gotten at least six hours of sleep, but perhaps walking on a nice day will help you even more.
Put on an Audiobook
I find it hard to talk to my baby on days I haven’t had enough sleep. My mind trails off into nothingness as I try to focus on remembering to tell my baby what we are doing. (“We are walking into the kitchen. Here is your sippy cup. I am picking it up and handing it to you…”). While this sort of dialogue is helpful for her intellectual growth, I know I can’t keep it up while my brain is in snooze mode. Instead, we put on an audiobook. This gives Little Fox the opportunity to hear the sounds of different words being put together without extra exertion on my part. Also, it stops me from feeling guilty that I am unable to remember to keep talking to her.
We’ve gotten several audiobooks from our library. Sometimes I’ll put on talks from Lighthouse Catholic Media or FORMED. I believe Amazon has an audiobook service called Audible where you get the first audiobooks free. I think we’ll test that out when Little Fox is a little older.
Put Your Own Oxygen Mask on First
Self-care is important all the time. If we don’t take care of ourselves first, we are less capable of taking care of others. Take some time to think about what you need to be happy, healthy, and self confident. Is it a morning shower? Time to read by yourself? Time out with a friend? A chance to pray in silence? Having a baby doesn’t suddenly mean you don’t need those things anymore. Prioritize taking care of yourself. It is amazing how much more you can do for your family when you’ve given yourself the proper level of attention.
Have your husband hold the baby before he goes to work while you hop in the shower. Give your baby a stack of board books to play with beside you as you finish a chapter of a book you’ve been wanting to read. Call a friend and make arrangements to get together. Perhaps a fellow mom could meet you at a park and you can go for a stroll together. After supper, let your husband look after the kids while you stop by the local church for some time with God.
Whatever it is you need, find a way to prioritize it. You’ll come back to the mom life with a new approach and vigour for getting things done.
Nap While Your Child Is Napping
You’ve probably heard this one before. Believe it. Washing the kitchen floor can wait. You need your sleep. When your baby has gone down for a nap that is your cue to catch up on your own sleep. When your baby is ready to stop napping, leave some quiet time in the schedule so you can still get this precious time in when you need it.
When there is anything you are tempted to do instead of nap while your baby is napping, relive yourself of the pressure. If having someone come over means you need to clean your entire house, they don’t need to come over. If having a friend over is going to help you feel better, it should be the sort of friend who isn’t going to judge you for having dishes piled by the sink, toys scattered across the floor, and a dining room table that looks like a windswept desk.
Call In The Baba-Brigade
If you live near close family and grandparents, they can be a major help to you. Especially if the grandparents are retired. Invite the Baba over to hold the baby while you have a nap. A possible added benefit to this is you may wake up to the dishes miraculously having been done. My suggestion of pumping milk from the nighttime solutions also helpful here.
On the other hand, principle number five is still in play here. While family can help you by looking after your little one or helping out with household chores, sometimes they may make you feel worse. If you think your family is going to criticize the state of your house or in any way make your day more difficult, you are not obligated to have them over. Use your judgment.
Let Someone Else Do The Cooking
First of all I need to disclose something to you. I do maybe 5-10% of the cooking in our household. My husband does the rest. I never learned to make meals growing up, so we are working on catching me up on kitchen skills. It has been a process, but I’m getting better. (As long as the meat is precooked I can do a fair bit now).
The challenge of working in a kitchen only became more difficult once a little one entered our life. It has gotten a lot easier since Little Fox started solids (see our post on Baby Led Weaning), but before then having portions frozen to microwave was our best solution. Putting aside a bit of cash in the budget for days like these is also helpful. I keep a little bit in an envelope, and on a day I need the extra help I’ll call to order in lunch, and get enough so there is leftovers for supper.
Being a Mom When You are Tired
If something else is causing you to feel extra stress or pressure when you are tired, find a way to delegate or eliminate related tasks.
Don’t forget to share this post! If you have any other suggestions for tired mom’s let us know in the comments. Last week’s post on nighttime solutions for when your baby won’t sleep can be found here.
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