Hello! I hope you are all enjoying the N.E.S.T.S. series of posts, this weeks post is probably the most anticipated- Sleep! We are now halfway through and I really hope you have been able to make some (small) but long-term changes to look after yourself!
As a new mother, sleep becomes your most sought-after activity, you become obsessed the babies sleep schedule so you can get some shut-eye too. It is so hard to go from getting a solid 8 hours of sleep to barely 4 or 5 broken hours of sleep. Your new bundle of joy has successfully turned you into a zombie. I must now apologize for what I am about to tell you, after BabyJ turned 2 months old his grandma was on night duty, allowing me to get my beauty sleep. I know that I am extremely lucky so firstly -Thank you, mum, for doing the night duty and letting me get my rest!
Now BabyJ is almost 10 months old! He still sleeps with grandma (and occasionally with me) and he tends to wake once or maybe twice for a feed. Most babies by about 6 months settle into a schedule or get sleep trained and so this helps us, mummies, to get a more restful sleep as well. This post, however, is not about babies sleep, it is about mummy’s sleep. So how can you manage to get more sleep?
- Setting a night duty schedule with dad: I know all mums feel the guilt of having dad do the night duty for missing out on nighttime breastfeeding or feeling guilty that dad has come home after a long day at work, but you are in this together. Splitting the week so that you each have a few nights of good rest and few nights with baby will help you get rested and care for the baby. If the whole night is not possible maybe even just a few hours in the evening after work so you get in a nap.
- ‘Napping when the baby naps’: I know what you are thinking, and I know how this sentence ends, ‘and cleaning when the baby cleans or cooking when the baby cooks’. But jokes aside when you know you won’t get your full rest at night taking advantage of baby’s nap time is beneficial for you. It will give you the energy you need to continue with doing the cleaning, cooking and caring for the baby. You may have seen those millions of pictures floating around on the internet of dads and babies taking (adorable) naps together so if you need any help with this confer with dad, the napping expert.
- Help from family and friends: For when you absolutely need to get some sleep ask your village for some help. It is not surprising how many people would gladly help with the baby so you can get some rest. When BabyJ arrived, I asked my mum to come from England and stay with me for a few months, she would make sure I took an afternoon nap. I am so grateful she came and helped me, I was able to get some rest and get into a routine with the babies. Sometimes we are embarrassed to ask for help as it may give the impression that we can’t cope or that we are weak but in all honesty, people understand. Babies are a lot of hard work and no one will judge you for asking for help (or just avoid the judgy people!). I have even heard of mummies hiring a babysitter to help out for a few hours so that they can get a break and get in a nap!
I have been using my Fitbit to monitor my sleep too (nerd alert!), the app has handy graphs and charts that show me how I have slept. This may seem a little over obsessive but sometimes it has been good, even when I have a broken sleep, I can see overall how I slept as well as a further breakdown into each sleep stage. The app further breaks down each portion of your sleep and describes what stage of sleep you are in and actually what that means in terms of your rest. This has allowed me to calm my anxieties about having poor sleep as well as set an alert for bedtime so that I have a reminder to start to wind down for bed.
The sleep portion of N.E.S.T.S. is shared between sleep and rest; to me, this means not overdoing it whether it’s cooking, cleaning, laundry or errands and actually having regular breaks during the day. After having BabyJ, I had convinced myself of millions of tasks that needed to be completed around the house but now I take a more laid-back approach and have a simple cleaning schedule for two/three days a week giving me more free time to get some rest and spend time with the babies. On these days I like to do relaxing activities such as arts and crafts with BabyG (whilst BabyJ naps), curling up with BabyG and watching a kids movie whilst BabyJ plays or simply letting the kids play around me whilst I Pinterest my next project.
It may be a year (or two) before you can truly sleep through the night but until then remember it is just temporary, the baby won’t be small and so needy forever and one day you may even miss the late night cuddles and feeds. On my postpartum journey I have found that it is important to listen to your body, this means ensuring that you eat well, rest adequately and don’t overexert yourself, it is tempting to become a soldier and function on caffeine and adrenaline but in the long term it is best to take each day as it comes and really take care of yourself so that you can take care of the baby(ies) too!
Take care and happy reading!