Ever used these tried and trusted beauties?
- Taking your shoes off before you put your child to bed, so the shoes don’t make a noise when you leave the room at record snail pace
- Ensuring you have gone to the toilet before you start the “book, rock, pat” routine so as you don’t have to “go” part way through and then have to “start all over” (usually another half hour at least on top of what you have already done) to put them back to bed. Cursing throughout the process.
- Singing the same song, over….. and over…… again. And when you tire of hearing the song, you hum it.
- Avoiding certain floor boards so they don’t CREAK!
- After you have been leaning over the cot (for ages) just to be sure they are asleep, you literally peel yourself away one body part at a time, so slowly and awkwardly that you could now qualify as a Mime.
- Turn the door handle and then hold the handle on the other side of the door so you don’t have to turn it again. This is especially useful if you have creaky door handles.
- You are almost out of the room, so of course the most logical thing to do now is hold your breath so that NOTHING, not even the smallest particle of air could wake your child.
- PRAY THEY STAY ASLEEP
- Drink wine
I was talking to a mum at pre kindy drop off this morning and she (didn’t realise it) but embarked on a huge information dump on the impact of sleep deprivation on her little family, not getting enough “me” time, trying to “train” her son with a grow clock to sleep longer in the morning etc etc. I was nodding. I totally got it. You are all nodding. You totally get it. I tried to alleviate some of her concerns by merely acknowledging how she felt. We have all been there. I also gave her some small but hopefully meaningful tips on how I was trying to cope as a mum, which I thought I would share here with you.
Happy mum, happy kids – now I don’t mean walking around with a ridiculous grin on your face all day. No one feels THAT great all the time. Plus, this is totally unrealistic. But, if you are feeling generally good within yourself this positive energy flows onto your kids. It also helps you to cope better with the small things that on not so great days might otherwise send you into a spin where you snap at your kids and the day spirals out of control.
But how do we achieve this? Who has the time to feel great?
Here are 6 things that I have found helpful:
- Be KIND to yourself – it is critical to your general well being as a mother to prioritise break time – even if it’s 10 minutes. I have always been of the opinion that “the washing can wait’. Basically my rule of thumb is if you need a coffee or a tea or a glass of water and to read one chapter of a book or literally sit outside and just “be” with the universe while you don’t have someone demanding food or hanging off your leg, then the list of chores can wait. The washing isn’t going to look after your kids for the rest of the day. You are. Sometimes (actually quite often) you can’t schedule this break time, so you have to go with the moment and take the moment of peace when you can.
- ACCEPT the things you cannot change. The biggest one for me is the early rising. After four years of early wake ups (at its worst, 4am but usually in the 5am somewhere) I still personally struggle with this as I have never been an early riser (by choice). I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news but if your little ones are up at the crack of dawn or before this it is not going to miraculously change tomorrow. When you hear that voice from their bedroom cry out for you and you roll over and look at the clock and see a time starting with a 5 (and you want to cry), just remember, your kids have probably had a solid 10 hours at least and they are happy and ready for their day!
- Be CONSISTENT with your messages – little people respond very well to routines, in fact its quite important for their development. It gives them a sense of safety and security when they know what to expect. I find the night time routine the most important for our day as it achieves two very important things. The kids are in bed at a time developmentally appropriate for their age (under four should be before 7pm) and you and your husband/ partner get quality time together that is often rare when you have little children.
- Go for a WALK – I haven’t said exercise here because I think sometimes we look at that word and think “urgh, WHEN am I going to get the time to do that!”. I also think that we tend to place too much emphasis on the length of time to exercise rather than just doing something. Walking around the block helps to clear your head. Preferably this is done on your own but if not, load up the pram with food and water and take the kids. You will all benefit.
- CONNECT with nature – I know it sounds totally hippie of me but the benefits of being outside, breathing the fresh air and taking in the scenery is not only great for you, it’s excellent for your kids as well. If you can feel the household getting difficult ie everyone is cranky and world war three is about to break out – pack a bag, pack a snack box and GET OUT of the house. Go for a drive and play at the beach, the river or a park.
- Take your TIME – we often feel incredibly rushed as mothers to get things done. The list is endless. There is always something to do. But, when you know you don’t have to be somewhere by X time just Try, TRY, to take your time. And by this I mean, allowing you kids to dawdle without rushing them out of the house, taking the time to pack your bag even if it means it takes an hour to get out of the house, not wrapping up an activity that your kids are enjoying because you have a pressing agenda to do something else. Walking slower. Slowing down takes considerable conscious effort so it takes some practice to be aware that you need to slow down and be in the moment.
I hope you find this list useful. We can’t achieve all of these things, all of the time but certainly I have noticed that even the smallest of changes can have huge positive impacts.
1. You don’t text back. I don’t know how many times I have done this. But it happens all the time. Someone texts me, I read it, I answer it in my brain, I am interrupted by a) screaming child b) hungry child c) pulling at my leg child or d) all of the above. Text is immediately forgotten. You get another text from the same friend “did u get my text?” Of course I did, didn’t you get mine? And then, you check. There is either a message half finished in draft form or there is no message. Usually, there is no message. Dammit!
2. You lose track of conversation. You are having a wonderful conversation with a friend about something great and you are interrupted by a) mum, MUM! b) a meltdown c) an event that requires immediate intervention d) all the above …and Faboooooosh! Thread of conversation obliterated. Train of thought left faster than the speed of light. Worst still you are chatting with another sleep deprived mum and when you return to the conversation you look at each other blankly – deer in headlights style. Neither of you remember what were talking about .
3. You can’t remember if you had a shower today, or yesterday. No explanation required there.
4. A trip to Coles ON YOUR OWN is like your first car ride with your p plates. Pure joy.
5. You arrive home from an outing and realise you a) have baby spew on your clothes or much worse b) remnants of poo
6. You have about three cups of cold tea or coffee at various drop points around the house. After the second round of re-heating you finally give up.
7. Just the thought of wearing high heels almost has you keeling over in agony. And when you do decide to go there you totally regret it and keel over in agony.
8. Eyeliner is your new best friend.
9. You forget. EVERYTHING. Its a miracle that you and your children are all still alive.
10. You have become the Mother of Dragons. The less sleep, the bigger the dragon – don’t even THINK about messing with me today. One more child meltdown, one more throw of your gourmet meal on the floor, one more “But WHYYYYY” grating on your brain and I will seriously burn the whole house down, Khaleesi style.