Constant sleep deprivation is one of the biggest issues I’ve been dealing with since becoming a mum. My daughter is 2.5 now and still wakes multiple times every single night. I don’t want you to give up your hopes of getting a good night’s sleep sometime soon, because I know it will happen when your little one is ready (I really believe that and after 2.5 years of constant lack of sleep I HAVE to believe that, right?!). However, if you too have to wait a bit longer for the holy grail that is sleeping through the night, I want to share a few tips with you on how you can still get things done despite being sleep deprived.
So here are a few tools that I’ve collected over time that help me on a daily basis.
Stop & breathe
When you feel overwhelmed and frustrated, stop whatever you’re doing and take (at least!) three deep belly breaths. Let the air coming in through your nose fully fill your lungs. It’ll help you feel less stressed immediately. It can also help you to let go of distracting thoughts and therefore better focus on what you’re doing right in this moment.
(I try to remind myself how much focusing on my breathing has helped me while I was in labour. TMI?!?)
Only this in this moment
A phrase that I picked up from one of the programs of Happy Mama with Amy Taylor-Kabbaz is “Only this in this moment”. It helps me immensely to be more mindful. Just like deep belly breathing, it helps me to focus and brings me back into the present moment. I used to be a huge fan of multi-tasking, but over time I learned to let go of that. I’m actually more productive now, when I only focus on one thing at a time. Admittedly, it took some time and practice to be able to catch myself when I was just drifting through the day mindlessly, but it got easier the more I practiced mindfulness.
What do you really need to get done today?
Now that I have shared a couple of things to help you focus and relax when it all seems a bit much, let’s talk about a more “hands on” approach. Every evening I pick three things for the next day that I need to get done. Those can be small things (e.g. putting on a load of washing or sending a quick email), big things (e.g. meal prep and batch cooking), or a combination of small and big tasks.
Focus on getting those three tasks done before you start working on anything else. Once you crossed all three things of your list, you’ll likely feel a sense of accomplishment. And if you get more than three things done at the end of the day? Look at you go, mama! Give yourself a pat on the back. Of course there will be other days where you’ll struggle to get through your list, because your little one was up all night and/or refuses to be put done all day. That’s ok. I have those days too! Tomorrow is a new day. Deep breaths - you’ve got this!
Get help and don’t feel guilty about it
Even if (like me) you don’t live near any family, you can still get yourself some help. For example you could order your groceries online and get them delivered to your doorstep or you could hire a cleaner once or twice a month. I understand it might feel like a waste of money (I certainly felt like that at first!), but don’t underestimate the peace of mind it can give you, which is priceless really. We currently live in an apartment building where everyone is provided with cleaners once a month and this is NOT optional. It’s simply part of the rental agreement. We pay more rent, but have cleaners come in for an hour every month and it’s such a timesaver. So if you do have the means to do so, take some pressure of yourself and hire some help.
Be gentle with yourself
I believe one of the most important tips I can share with you on this topic though is: Take care of yourself and listen to your body! If it tells you to rest, get some rest and ask for help, if possible. I know how hard it can be raising a little one without your “village” nearby, but burning yourself out isn’t going to help anyone. So please prioritise rest as much as you can. The dirty laundry will still be there tomorrow and an early bedtime isn’t just beneficial for your little one. Taking care of yourself will allow you to be the mama you want to be.
I hope this helped. Leave a comment if this resonates with you at all.