Quatro sleeps great, during the day, not so fabulously at night. Farting and spewing seem to take on demon like status when it gets dark and sometimes it takes a long time and a lot of patting and rocking between feeds to get him to settle. Then there is the other three children, who, often decide to gang up on me and wake one after the other in rotation just when I get Quatro to settle.
I’m don’t really have grounds to complain. Little babies wake a lot, fart a lot, spew a lot and feed a lot, that’s how they are made. The big kids also still need parenting in the middle of the night on occasion. There has been coughs that need ventolin, shadows that need chasing away, doona’s that need re-aligning.
It’s all good and normal, but I am tired. And things get a little shonky around here when I am constantly tired.
Suddenly I fund myself covered with buttons for my children and husband to repeatedly push. I have a label on my forehead that says ‘whine at me and see what happens’. I am constantly unable to keep the frustration in check and the narkiness spews out of me at every opportunity, whether it is warranted or not. And to add insult to injury, my ability to parent the way I’d like to magically vanishes just when I need it most.
I am not proud to admit that my children cop a lot of the fall out for my lack of sleep. I fail to keep my temper in check and way too often I resort to yelling and tantrums and other less than gentle parenting techniques. Which makes us all miserable, which leads to everyone feeling stressed, which in turn leads to worse behaviour and less sleep for all. It’s a dark, grumpy, nasty, vicious cycle.
So how do you dig your way out of that hole? That nice quiet dark hole that you’d really rather just curl up in and go to sleep….
In a perfect world you’d just get more sleep right?
Sadly my world falls a little short of ‘perfect’. We don’t live in that much talked about ‘village’ where there is always someone there to hold the baby while the mother eats, showers or…. sleeps. In my world, the days still tick by and I still need to be up each morning to get the Big Girls to school. I still need to spend time with the Big Boy and provide food and clean clothes etc. The Baldy Boy still needs to work, we still have bills to pay and chickens to feed. I can’t stop the world for a few hours while I catch up on sleep….
So what to do?
Asking for help is not easy for me and sometimes offers of help aren’t actually helpful, that’s ok. I’ve learnt to work out what would be helpful for us and when someone offers to help I let them know.
Meals for the freezer, biscuits for school lunches, picking up and dropping off kids are various events, play dates for the big girls…. all these lovely things that friends and family have helped us with has made life a little easier and given us some breathing space.
Tame The Schedule
There are lots of things we have on and places we have to be that I can’t change and some that I don’t want to change. We still have to be up and out of the house by 8:40 am six days a week, we still don’t get home from dancing till after 6pm on a Monday. But there are things on our schedule that I can tweak to make life easier, and some things that I need to say no to…. just for now.
Running late is a sure fire way for things to go pear shaped around here…and fast. It has taken me a while to realise that we need lots of extra time to get ready. It takes a full five minutes more just to get everyone in the car these days!
The same goes for doing just about everything. It takes longer to make dinner, to hang the washing, to do the shopping…. and THAT IS OK. If I just allow some extra time, things will go much smoother.
I need to be funnier.
When the whinge starts up and I can feel my ears beginning to bleed from the noise…if I can just do something silly or say something funny to break the cycle, then it could all turn around.
Appropriate First Response.
Having a pre-thought out response works well for me when my brain isn’t thinking as fast as it should be.
I need to decide well in advance what I might say when Muski lays down on the ground and refuses to move, or when the girls whine at me about this that or the other. I need to think it through, right down to the exact sentence I will say, and practice it. Even if it is one of those naff sounding ‘I feel..’ sentences. Saying “I feel sad when you hit your brother” may sound over the top and stupid but it is a BIG improvement on screeching at them like a banshee and it gives me a moment to collect myself before I move on.
Make a conscious decision.
When push comes to shove I know this is my problem. I can wish my kids behaviour to be different and pray for the baby to sleep, but deep down I know that the kids are not being unreasonable. They are kids, their behaviour is age appropriate, they are not ‘out to get me’, and they can’t understand why I am suddenly tired and stressed. So it comes down to me. I need to make a conscious decision to be a better parent, a better person.
I need to sit down and look at our days. To recognise when I am likely to find it hard going and to do something about it. I need to remind myself constantly that I don’t want to yell, and that I have other skills to deal with those situations and I need to cut myself some slack. Yep, the Big Boy is watching way too many DVD’s at the moment, yes I am buying school snacks instead of baking and yes sometimes I am not that parent I want to be and that is ok, because I am working on it and things will get better.
So what do you do to get through those patches when you are running on empty?