Sunday, February 19, 2012

I Am Just Plain Tired by Leta Hamilton

How to beat the too-tired blues.......

Listening to the radio this morning, the woman being interviewed said that we think, on average, around 68,000 thoughts per day and that over 80% of those thoughts were negative. For a mom, my guess is that half of those thoughts center one theme: I’m tired. Because we are tired, our patience levels are lower, our tempers are shorter, our appetites for carb-laden foods is greater, our sense of humor takes a beating and life is just not as much fun. But there is a way to beat those too-tired blues. 

Here is my method:
First of all, I know what I am. In the book Brain Rules by John Medina, he writes a whole chapter on sleep. He describes the different sleeping patterns to which humans adhere. There are “early birds” and “night owls” and a range of patterns in between. The important thing is to understand where you fit in to the scale of early/late risers. With that knowledge, you can more proactively establish your own sleeping schedule that matches what your body instinctively needs. After reading this book, I gave myself permission to go to bed earlier and rise earlier because I was able to confirm to myself that I am an early bird and I do not have to feel guilty for going to bed at 9pm every night. Now, I get the sleep my body wants.

With this change in my sleeping patterns, I have been able to rise earlier and have a bit of time to myself in the morning before the kids wake up. Even with four kids, I am still averaging around an hour to myself in the morning before they wake up. This “me time” has made a huge difference in the overall mood of the day. Things just work smoother when I am rested AND have had that time for my morning coffee with no interruptions between 5:30 and 6:30am.

I use my car for resting. When the kids are sleeping in the car, I rest too. Sometimes I sit in my driveway for an hour or more just lying in the front seat with my eyes closed. It is an irreplaceable opportunity to use the excuse of their sleeping to have some enforced downtime. I can choose to rest, read a book (always have one handy) or check messages on my phone. Whatever it is, my car time is a treasured part of my week.

There is exercise in my life. It isn’t much, but it is scheduled. With an infant, I am spending around 30 minutes each evening walking around the neighborhood. It’s about as long as my husband can supervise a baby that isn’t on the bottle yet. With this time, I move my body and clear my head. Its therapeutic benefits cannot be overemphasized. And, because I do it in the evening, I am finding I sleep better.

Lastly, I give myself the privilege of child-free time in which to accomplish some things that just aren’t easy with kids around. That way, I finish personal projects that have little to do with children. The trade off is we spend a certain amount on childcare every month, but my sanity is saved. Having uninterrupted time in which to write my articles, check my emails and order my groceries online is worth the money we pay in babysitting. It also allows me to recoup some of that expense through doing things that add to the household income. 

There may be things that you do to beat the too-tired blues. I would love to hear them. Share them at Until next month, happy sleeping.

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