I’ve been admiring new babies of my friends both online and offline. It really does seem like so long ago that my youngest, Dawson (now 4.5), was keeping me up through the night – but also not that long ago at all.
I see these moms smile and I can remember how much energy it took to make my weary muscles lift up into a smile. I look at photos and see the sleepy eyes betraying my attempts at appearing energetic.
I feel that full body tiredness of having a baby all over again.
There was something I learned by the time Dawson came along, three babies in, that I want to share to any mom in this stage.
It is the notion of embracing the tiredness.
Here is how it played out for me. With Levi, he was the first and I could try and catch a couch nap here and there. It was hard but it was bearable because there were only the demands of one child.
Then Lenayah came. So, I had a toddler and a baby and I was so flipping tired. I would literally go to bed plotting out how much coffee I would be drinking in the morning.
Adjusting to a second baby was really hard for us. I felt like I was failing every single day as a mom. I felt like I needed something, but I didn’t know what. I felt like my needs weren’t being met and I turned to Conor to solve this problem for me – but I didn’t directly ask for it – I just dropped hints and complained about things. [Related: Are You A Mom Martyr?]
One of my favourite complaints was how tired I was. It seemed like the most appropriate thing to complain about.
But as we worked through our marriage issues in counselling [Related: When They Tell I’m Lucky To Have Him], and I started to dig into growing up myself [Related: What is the Enneagram and how it has changed my life], I saw that the act of complaining was deteriorating my happiness and ability to ENJOY my life (and probably pushing people away).
I look back on this time of my life a lot – now I look at it through a life coaching lens. I see how my mindset really created my reality. Confirm the cognitive cycle of how a thought triggers a feeling, which triggers an action, which gives you a certain result.
Every time the THOUGHT popped into my head about how tired I was,
I FELT more overwhelmed, more helpless, and more alone in caring for children. MY HUSBAND NEEDS TO KNOW ALL I SUFFER FOR!
So, I ACTED moodier and got super focussed on getting more sleep. I probably got weird about the issue of sleep. I made it the key indicator that I was doing things right.
MY RESULT was that I would never be doing it right (cause my definition of success was unrealistic sleep expectations), I was alone (I had pushed my husband away), and I wasn’t sleeping.
Then we had Dawson, the third baby. I was so nervous that things would be a repeat performance of adding in number two – but we had done a lot of work in our marriage [Related: 12 Ways to Heal and Strengthen Your Marraige] and by God’s grace, Dawson was super chill. [Related: Holding a Full House and Showing All Our Cards]
Of course, he still woke to nurse and did all the baby stuff – and the other kids were up early, sometimes in the night too – I was tired, probably running on less sleep than ever before.
But something changed for me.
I decided to think about it differently.
The new thought I started with was ‘I guess I’m gonna be tired today’.
This thought lost a lot of its power to generate negative feelings in me because I didn’t MAKE IT MEAN I was doing it wrong, or that I was unsupported in my marriage. I didn’t let it make me a victim. I took it as a fact and stopped hustling for naps (which never worked with two other toddlers and left me even crankier).
I drank my coffee, and did some jumping jacks to remind my blood to flow, and had hot showers.
I could stop hustling and complaining.
I could stop TRYING SO HARD to change it.
I knew that this time was going to pass and I didn’t have to turn it into a really negative experience.
So when I see babies, my mind goes back to all these places where we were and how they grew us and are still teaching us something every day. And some days we are very tired, and then it passes.
— If sleep is hard in your family, maybe you would like this FACEBOOK LIVE I did with Sierra Dante from Sweet Sleep Consulting