Whenever I’m asked how I manage everything, how I survive with “so many” children in my care, how I run a business and a home and a homeschool; my response is usually three-fold: sleep, support and mindset.
If one of these is missing, I struggle. I really do.
If I don’t get enough sleep, I’m a cranky old cow.
If I’m not feeling supported, I struggle to work joyfully.
If my mindset is not in the right place, everything -even the simplest task -begins to feel burdensome and traumatic.
As our family prepares to welcome our 6th baby in August this year, I want to spend a bit of time talking through each of these facets, as they really have proven to be the most important three things for me and have meant the difference between thriving and just surviving.
It is my hope that this mini blog series will give you some ideas for improving your own experience of motherhood with small children and in particular during the newborn stage.
So let’s start with sleep, because without sufficient sleep it really is difficult for anyone to function.
Here are some ways to get more sleep with kids in tow:
- If you have babies and toddlers, sleep when they sleep. Everything else can wait. And I do mean everything.
- If your children are past day sleeps or don’t sleep very well, do a ‘nap swap’ with a friend. Once a week, have a day where you give her your kids for a couple of hours then go home to sleep and do the same for her on another day.
- Enlist your babysitter or a relative to come and take the kids to the park for a couple of hours while you sleep.
- Schedule your bedtime into your diary and treat it like any other important appointment: non-negotiable. To this end, know how much sleep you need, work out what time you have to get up and then go to bed accordingly.
- On one (or more!) specific day each week, organise to go to bed as soon as your spouse gets home from work. Let him do the bath, dinner, bed run and because dads tend to also experience sleep deprivation (particularly in the early days after a new baby arrives), do a swap with him.
- Desperately lacking in support? Pop a movie on and rest in the lounge while the kids enjoy a cartoon.
For centuries, sleep deprivation has been used as a form of torture and if you’ve ever experienced it first hand, you’ll understand how effective it is! Well, our new babies aren’t cruelly trying to torture us into revealing where we hid the crown jewels, but the result is the same.You’ll do ANYTHING to get some more sleep. Anything.
Your emotional and physical health is at stake in the sleep game, and these both need to be in good shape in order to peacefully and happily deliver the best to your growing babe/s, so be sure to prioritise sleep over just about everything else that is on your to do list.
Past the newborn stage or not quite there yet?
If you know a mother with a new baby, the single best gift you can give her is an hour or sleep. Take care of her other children, or fold some washing and do the dishes while she rests with her new baby. Care of and support for mothers in the newborn stage is a priority incumbent on the whole of society -help her reclaim her emotional and physical wellbeing by resting her body and soul for a little while.
Next week, I’ll pop in with my thoughts about the importance of a great support system, not just during the newborn stage, but throughout the whole motherhood journey.