Home and Family, Parenting

Sleep? I’ve heard of that.

I have decided being tired is a constant state of being.  As a high school student, I worked like crazy to get a scholarship to college. At the university, I took classes, worked on campus, and enjoyed social time with my friends.  Somehow sleep wasn’t on the priority list.  There would be time for that later.  When I left school to get married, I thought things would settle down and sleep would become my friend.  Enter an unexpected (but welcomed) pregnancy and motherhood.  While I would never trade any of my children, I will admit that I had no clue how tired you could be until I had my first baby.  Three more came within the next six years.  Tired became a normal state of being.  What have learned through all of this?

I have learned you can be tired because you have well-behaved, well-cared-for children who are a joy to you and others, or you can be tired because your children are out of control and you are always running after them.  Good kids DO NOT fall from the sky.  Some are easier to teach than others, but they all require time, effort, focus, and patience.  I had four highly gifted children.  They simply didn’t require much sleep. (I have since learned that trait is common with giftedness.)  My daughters have gifted kids, and one of my grandsons also has additional challenges.  Sleep is a friend whose visits are way too few and far between.  Spend time with your children regardless of how tired you are, and the joy in your life will increase exponentially.

Naps are your friend if you have multiple children.  Sleep only comes when you can actually take the time and lie down, so give yourself permission to lie down.  We had quiet time each afternoon during which the kids could read, sleep, or play quietly in their rooms.  Mom got a nap.  Dinnertime was much more pleasant after we had all taken some down time!

My eating habits affect how well I sleep, and how well I function when I am awake.  Sugar eaten immediately before bed will keep me up for a while longer.  Chips and salsa or popcorn is a better snack.  Too much processed food during the day messes with my entire body.  Cooking from scratch and using fresh ingredients make a remarkable difference in how I feel.  My body expends less precious energy processing food if I am careful about what I eat.

Have a bedtime routine for your children and for you.  We had baths, prayers, and story time each night so that the children could unwind and get ready for the idea that it was time to stay in bed.  If sleep didn’t come immediately, that was okay.  They could read.  But they knew bed time meant they were to stay in bed.  I am the last one down.  I take time to watch something calming on television, read my scriptures and pray, and do a final quick tidy of the main living areas.  Then I head to bed and read a bit more.  Taking time to wind down allows my brain to let go of the stresses of the day and sleep will come more easily. (Yes, I have read everything I could on improving sleep habits for me and my children.  Didn’t work.  I have decided to let it be.)

One of the hardest, but most helpful lessons I learned is that complaining and focusing on how little sleep I got depleted my limited energy than anything else I did.  Once I accepted the reality of living on bits of sleep as they came, I was happier, enjoyed my children more, and felt more capable in all areas of my life.  Instead of expending energy on the negative, I learned to enjoy the small victories and give thanks for what I do have.

I am still tired (now its fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue), but that’s okay.  I am also highly blessed and if I had to pick from life’s challenges, I can’t think of anything I would trade for more sleep.  Life is good.

May your sleep be blessed!