The marching orders dutifully delivered to every mother as she steps out of the hospital and into the exciting world of motherhood is “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” What she’s not told is how to get the laundry done, the beds made, the kitchen swept or even how to take a shower while her little one is wide awake and crying for any number of reasons.
When the choices have to be made between getting the laundry done or taking a nap, for those of us who’ve put our family’s needs ahead of our own, it’s usually our sleep that’s going to be sacrificed. It’s expendable, and we can live without it, we tell ourselves. It comes so naturally to convince ourselves we’ll catch up eventually, or maybe just learn to live without it. Delirium can make you believe anything.
The truth be told, every day has responsibilities that stack up against each other like a row of dominoes. A poor night’s sleep can topple the joy of parenting one hour after the next until the day concludes with nothing but the feeling that there’s a mess of dominoes waiting to be cleaned up. A poor night’s sleep can put a strain on even the most average of days for a busy mom.
If you consider the fact that someone will have to do the laundry, wash the dishes, make the bed and sweep the floors for the next twenty years or so, wouldn’t it make sense to take extra care of the person responsible for all of that laborious work? We wouldn’t dream of running a car on empty, and yet a mom will so easily drive herself to exhaustion, depleted of the most basic care she deserves.
Getting a good night of quality rest isn’t a necessity just for moms either. It should be a top priority for the entire family because, as science has shown, the majority of all growth and repair takes place during this precious period. Well-rested families stay healthier, heal faster, and grow to their fullest potential of development.
What does this mean in real terms for a mom with little ones to care for and lots of responsibilities? It means she’ll need to make her own sleep a priority so she can take care of everything and everyone who relies on her.
Don’t worry what others think if occasionally your dishes are piled high in the sink, and the laundry basket rivals Mt. Rushmore. These tasks will be waiting for you every morning for the next twenty years whether you’re on top of it or not. Your family needs a well-rested momma who has experienced the multi-faceted benefits that come from sleep, the undervalued commodity.
Take it from a mom who drove around town all night long determined to make sure her kiddo slept, and then kept house by day, slugging about like a zombie as a result. Sure, the dishes got done, and the floors swept clean, but it wasn’t worth the fatigue and grumpiness that claimed my identity.
Sleep when your little ones sleep and enjoy the journey of motherhood one day at a time. No one will starve, the clothes will get washed, and the floors will eventually be swept. Somehow it all just works out when you place the commodity of sleep at the top of the list and let the day’s demands stand in line.