About six weeks after my second son, Henry, was born, I hit a big wall. The new mom high was wearing off and my patience was wearing thin. I had a needy toddler (Owen) whose world was just rocked by his even needier newborn brother. I was short with everyone – even my dogs could feel the tension.
One day around this time, my oldest and I were coloring in the living room while Henry napped. Before I realized what was happening, Owen drew big circles all over our brand new storage ottoman. I snapped. I snatched the crayon away and yelled, “NO!” as loudly as I could. Poor Owen. At first he was shocked, and then big, swollen alligator tears started to well up in his blue eyes.
That was a big wake-up call for me and everyone else in my family. I was so, so exhausted – both mentally and physically – and I needed a break. But more than a break, I needed some sleep. I have an incredibly involved husband who shared the night duties with me 50/50, but the lack of sleep just didn’t seem to bother him as much. He was still holding it together. Me? Not so much. (FYI: Researchers have discovered that women need more sleep than men, and that sleep deprivation in women can lead to depression, heart disease and even stroke!)
Sleep deprivation can have a huge effect on everyone in the family – not just the mom and dad who are up all night. Short tempers and bad attitudes don’t make for a happy home. It’s important to recognize when you’re close to your breaking point so that you can make changes before you snap like I did. (This is a great article on some not-so-obvious signs that you might be sleep deprived.)
Here are a few things you can do give yourself some TLC when you’re sleep deprived:
Treat Yourself: Whenever I did some grocery shopping or made a trip to Target (alone!), I would pick up a small treat for myself, such as a new bottle of nail polish or some chocolate. I found that having that treat to look forward to really changed my attitude.
Go For a Walk (By Yourself): This worked wonders for me, especially a few days after Henry was born. Getting out of the house for some fresh air, even if only for a few minutes, can do a world of good.
Do Something You Enjoy: It sounds like a no-brainer, but take an hour to do something that you really, really enjoy. Give yourself permission to watch a TV show you like or read a few chapters in a book you haven’t picked up since before the baby was born.
Say Goodbye to the Guilt: If you do snap like I did, try not to dwell on it. Everyone has her bad moments, and it’s important to recognize it for what it is. The guilt will only make you feel worse and doesn’t really solve the problem. Instead, come up with a plan to keep it from happening again.
Listen To Some Upbeat Music: Did you know that studies have shown that listening to upbeat music can drastically improve your mood? Henry is currently battling a sleep regression as I write this. Don’t judge, but I’m LOVING Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”!
Get Help: If you need a break, consider hiring a babysitter or asking a friend to watch your kids for a few hours.
Consider Sleep Training: Once your baby is sleeping through the night, so will you! Browse our blog to find a sleep training method that works for you, and if you still find yourself needing support and advice, check out the services we provide. Having a plan can help you feel productive and give you something to look forward to: SLEEP!
Jamie, a mom of two, is a freelance writer and social media consultant living in Georgia. Check out her blog at thelaughtereverafterblog.wordpress.com