Children are little sponges who love to imitate what they see. What I love about being a parent is seeing my own little quirks and expressions reflected by my own child. It is so funny to hear and see things in your child that you may not have realized in yourself. Little Man has developed a habit of saying “yep” instead of the more polite and acceptable “yes”. So imagine my surprise when during a candid conversation, my husband asked me a questioned and I replied “yep!” It was then that I realized that I am the culprit for his poor manners! So parents remember, your children are a reflection of who you are, so whatever you are, be a good one.
I’m going to be completely honest and say that I have been thinking about this blog post for a long time. Maybe it’s because I’m not entirely sure where I stand on the topic or the fact that I know I’m going to come across as an ungrateful, selfish parent willing that time would pass and that her kids would grow up (totally not true). So here it is; I truly long to reclaim my queen. My soft, pillow top, backrest, natural bamboo mattress with the plush duvet and a whack load of pillows. Alas, it is not my own, for every single night it is shared by my
incessantly snoring loving husband, my 10 month old nursling and my squirmy 3 year old. Actually, Illustrated with Crappy Pictures has created an amazing rendition of my average sleepless night as a mommy. Aside from the cats, her blog post “illustrated with crappy pictures™” is practically spot on. Maybe trade the cats for Little Man crawling in bed with us and I’m near the edge of the bed in fear of rolling over to either side because a) I will fall on the floor or b) I will squish my children.
Last night was no different. I usually go to bed after my husband as we are the odd match of a night owl (me) and an early bird (him); I like nighttime movies and cuddles while he struggles to stay awake. He was already asleep as I could tell by his snoring. I had to nudge him three times before he rolled over and quieted down long enough for me to fall asleep. Not much long after, Bambino wakes up; 10 months old and still wakes and searches for me in the night, I think it’s a comfort thing, not necessity. So he’s in the bed with us as I covet the comfort of the covers and close my eyes for a few more much needed winks. And then Little Man decides that it’s time to pee and I get up once again to help. Alas, all four of us end up in the bed and I’m the only one watching every minute pass by one the clock.
I know motherhood brings on many challenges and lack of sleep sometimes seems the last of your worries. However, without satisfactory slumber, our bodies, minds and general well being suffers. Here are a few things that you may not realize can be related to inadequate sleep:
1. Weight gain: A broken sleep at night can be cause for a drowsy day. For a mom of young children with a busy schedule sometimes you push through it. You may find yourself grabbing for coffee and quick pick me ups, fast food or sweet snacks to keep your energy up. And we all know that poor food choices lead to excess fat, low energy, and disinterest in exercise or the things you love. Can you see a vicious cycle being created here? Lack of sleep is like credit card debt on which you pay high interest rates leading to your body ultimately crashing. Also, when you are sleep deprived your metabolism slows down and therefore you burn less.
2. Irritability: Yes we all know that when people sleep poorly they can become cranky. Lack of sleep and changing moods go hand in hand. No sleep can lead to anxiety and increased stress. Anxiety can lead to further restlessness causing unhealthy ups and downs in mood and put you at a greater risk for chronic insomnia, mood disorders, depression and many other psychiatric disorders. Another reason may be due to changing hormone levels in the body. Research shows that sleep deprivation can cause changes in cortisol, melatonin and growth hormone. Cortisol is released in response to stress and helps increase blood sugar and “aid in fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism” (also messes with our weight). Increased cortisol leads to increased blood sugar which, if not burned off as energy, is stored in the body.
3. Low Libido: Ok, so we just looked at hormones that are affected by sleep loss and in particular melatonin. Melatonin can supress the sex drive by blocking other hormones in the body such as luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). And, lets face it, if you’re like me who ends up with 2 kids in the bed, sex isn’t the first thing on your mind that night.
4. Decreased Immune System: Sleep is vital to your immune system and you may find that when you have less sleep you are more susceptible to sickness. Sleep loss affects your immune system and studies show why. Maybe that’s why when you catch a cold all you want to do is stay in bed. Your body is telling you that sleep helps release immune boosting proteins called cytokines which helps battle against stress, infection and inflammation.
Other than the aforementioned, sleeplessness and chronic sleep loss can cause decreased mental alertness, and put you at higher risk for heart disease, heart failure, high blood pressure and diabetes (10 Things to Hate About Sleep Loss, WebMD). Scary stuff. So mommas, dads, the general public, look after yourself. For adults, the suggested optimal sleep duration is 7-8 hours. I’m also assuming that’s consecutive. Sigh.
Alright, with all of these New Year resolutions going on for 2014, I would like to make my own. I would like to reclaim my queen and get more sleep. Maybe that means setting more boundaries for my 3-year old Little Man, trying some new sleep techniques with Bambino which will help him sleep better through the night and maybe invest in some ear plugs or Breathe Right nasal strips for the husband. I need to look after myself as well if I want to be present for my kids. It may seem a little trivial to some, but my health is important for my whole family. So if it means being a little selfish, taking back my bed with the plush duvet and whack of cushy pillows so I can get some solid, beautiful, wonderful sleep, well I guess that’s it.
Today I love the play date. It doesn’t matter how hectic a day is going, I’m totally fine with adding a few more to the mix. It’s a time when you see your child interact with others, whether it’s a positive experience or a negative one, it’s a good chance to “evaluate” how they play, work as a team, express emotions and feelings and their listening skills. Sometimes these play dates can be a challenge but for the most part, they are truly rewarding. AND some play dates have the added bonus of another adult in the room, be it the mom or dad of the other child(ren), so you don’t entirely lose your insanity to the explosion of toys, dirt and noise. Making social connections to other parents and their kids is needed for both you and your kids to encourage healthy interactions and social skills. And coffee. That’s another important part of the adult portion of the play date. Let’s not forget coffee.