As I sit here typing, all I can think is: “Girl, WHY are you not in bed???????” (It is 1:15 a.m.) This struggle is most likely something I’d like to call a Universal Mom Issue…you finally have a moment of peace and quiet to yourself…the entire house is asleep…do you SLEEP or do you TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF????
Clearly, time to myself wins out. But then I pay (oh so dearly) for it the next day.
What is it about time to ourselves that is so precious? Oh, let me count the ways.
Time is that elusive thing that we never seem to have enough of, as moms. Time seems to slip through our fingers when it comes to how quickly our babies seem to grow up or how the year has suddenly flown by. Time can also drag when you are home alone. All day. With the littles.
As a new SAHM, I approached life with big, bright doe eyes. (Actually, let’s be honest. I was more like a deer in headlights, caught between oncoming traffic and a river with an undercurrent.) My initial reaction was one of excitement, joy, and trepidation. I was excited to be home with my new baby. I was relieved to no longer be caught up in the stress of the workplace. But I was scared to be home…alone…with her. I was suddenly responsible for this tiny human being!
As the days rolled on by, I slowly grew in my self confidence in being Mom. This wasn’t so bad! I was starting to learn Nugget’s cries, reading her cues, getting into a rhythm with her. I often stayed awake just staring at her while she slept (hello, self-imposed sleep deprivation, anyone??).
I was overjoyed at being a mom…but I also slowly started to realize that I could not continue with the level of self care I was severely lacking. It also hit me that I was with bebes 24 hours a day. I had never been with anyone for 24 hours a day, let alone someone completely dependent on me!
My husband is an incredible father and partner. I feel blessed to be able to go on this journey with him. One thing we have discovered (and are still working on) on this adventure called parenthood is COMMUNICATION. He tries really hard to anticipate my needs and read my moods…but he can’t read my mind. If I need something from him, I just need to ask!
I think many SAHMs can relate to taking on the majority of middle of the night feedings and cuddles. This was definitely our situation. For one, Nugget is exclusively breastfed and has never really taken the bottle, so there’s that. Two, I honestly don’t mind getting up with her. Three, hubs sometimes has to get up for work at 4:00 a.m. OUCH! Even so, he has still done his fair share of the middle of the night duties. And I love him for it!
Despite my lack of sleep, especially during those early days, I discovered that I can function on FOUR HOURS OF SLEEP. (This probably varies from person to person.) But four became my magic number. If I could get four consecutive hours, I was golden.
When I didn’t get those four hours, I would sleep whenever the baby slept and try to claw my way back to humanity. I felt okay functionally…but my soul felt so zapped and sad.
What I CAN’T seem to function without is TIME TO MYSELF. Even if it’s for 15 minutes, for uninterrupted bathroom time. Or a quick walk around the block with my dog. I discovered that I need time to myself, everyday, to recharge my batteries. Really, who doesn’t?
Time to yourself, especially for SAHMs, is critical for self care. (Then again, so is sleep.)
Sleep vs. time to yourself…which would you choose?