I don’t need sleep. I need coffee.

4 years ago

I’ve recently ventured back into the land of sleep deprivation. I’m not talking about the regular version of this parental ailment; I’m talking about the fall-on-your-face-you-are-so-tired version you have when your kids are newborns. The thing is…my boys are three.

I’m no naïve parenting newbie. I know that this happens. It happened for us around 18 months with my daughter, and again when she was around three, and again when she was around four. She now seems to have entered the phase of sleeping for shockingly large amounts of time…which I like. The boys, however, are still wading through the waters of middle-of-the-night madness. As if it’s not bad enough going through it with one kid, the twins = two kids (that’s sleep-deprivation math for all of you well-rested geniuses out there scoffing at me).

Since I have been through this before, I am putting my tips out there on how to survive this period…and also to remind myself of them as I go through it again.

  • Instead of getting mad or frustrated with yourself when you do something ridiculous in your sleep-deprived state, try to view it in a humorous light. For example, I have a friend with twins who once was so tired she brushed her teeth with Desitin. Okay, she may not be able to view that in a humorous light even now, but wow – I LOVE that story! I have also been known to put items that belong in the refrigerator away in various cabinets. You have to love finding that stuff later when it has started to spoil…okay, again, not so funny to me, but maybe one day it will make me laugh?
  • Repeat this phrase over and over to yourself during the day: “I don’t need sleep; I need coffee.”
  • Take a shower. No, I’m not saying that looking better will make you feel better (that’s just crazy talk by people who don’t have kids. Because when you are in the thick of it, you won’t care that you left the house with no underwear, your shirt inside out, and your hair in a nest of crazy.) BUT, there is something magical about standing in the shower that I can’t explain. I do not, however, recommend you leave your children alone for long periods of time while you do it. Because as with all good things, it comes at a price.
  • Remind yourself that the ability to restrain yourself from kicking someone’s ass patience is a virtue. When you tell people you are tired, they will try and relate. Other parents will tell you that they were up once or twice during the night as well (despite the fact that you were up five or six). Singles and others without kids will tell you they were out late at a rockin’ party. Do NOT go with your instinct to lock them in your house with your kids overnight. Simply smile, nod and walk away – comforted in the knowledge that those singles will one day have kids of their own and know what sleep deprivation really means. And by then, your kids will be in high school, and you will be able to spout the line back at the singles that you were up late because of a rockin’ party (only leave out the part where it was your kids’ rockin’ party, and you were the one breaking it up).  
  • When you are heinously tired, you will watch the clock and count down the minutes until bedtime. You will hold back the tears every time you glance up (every five minutes or so) and realize that time is not your friend today. If you find yourself in this scenario, get out of the house. Get out of the house as if you just heard a voice whispering, “Get out!” like they do in creepy horror flicks. It doesn’t matter if you go out for a short walk with your kids, a trip to the grocery store (although good Lord, we would NEVER recommend this with kids), or anything else in between. You won’t regret it…unless your kids sense your weakness and run from you…and force you to chase them…in which case…um…sorry?

Have you ever experienced chronic sleep deprivation because of your child? What were your tips and tricks for making it through the day???

Shannon Hembree is a SAHM with a first grader and twin toddlers and the co-founder of Mamas Against Drama. She used to take sleep for granted. Now she fantasizes about getting a hotel room for the night…just to sleep. You can follow her on Twitter @Shannon1Hembree.

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