Finding rest with small children is no easy task. But, it is not impossible!
Today’s topic can be a bit touchy.
Because whenever you tell an overtired mom that she should “really get her rest.” She might be tempted to scratch your eyes out.
Figurately speaking, of course.
I know because that was my basic response whenever my husband suggested that I “get more sleep.”
Ha! I wish.
Even though deep down I knew he was right.
But how? Where?
Sleep and small children simply don’t go together, and he seemed to be oblivious to that reality.
But since this is a series on “How to Have a Happy Home with Small Children,” I’m going to take a big risk and bring the topic up.
Let’s begin with the why.
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Why Is Rest So Important to Moms with Young Children?
For one, a well-rested mama is a nicer, kinder sort of mom. As in, you’re far less likely to snap at your kids if you’ve had your rest.
Sleep is crucial to making good decisions. There are tons of articles out there about how leaders and CEO types need their sleep to do their jobs well. (For example, Sleep is More Important Than Food – Harvard Business Review) And if they need it? So do you. A mom makes 103 important decisions every day. (Okay, so I made up that statistic – probably underestimated it too).
Mothering is a highly physical job. Up, down. Here, there. Back and forth. And back again. (Just curious, any of you moms of toddlers have one of those FitBits? I’d be so interested to hear how many steps you take as a mom on any given day). Like any good athlete, you need to rest up for your Olympic event the following day.
Sleep is rejuvenating. Can you remember the last time you woke up feeling well-rested? Please tell me you can. The point is that you’re more ready to tackle the day when you’ve had some good sleep.
How Are You Supposed to Get Sleep When You’ve Got Young Kids Running Around?
I like to tell my friends that I’m a Sleep Specialist.
Oh, not that I have a degree, but any mom that has eight children in 12 years has to learn how to rest if she’s going to survive. And it was out of sheer desperation that I learned the “tricks” I’m about to share with you.
Make naptime a top priority. Naptime became a sacred hour around our home. Everything stopped after lunch, and all people had to go lay down on their beds. ALL people. It didn’t matter if you were tired or not. And if you’d outgrown naps, then you can listen to a story quietly (We use Audible – free trial here). But. Not. One. Peep.
Then (and this is the hardest part) you have to run and lay down yourself. Not “get things done” or get on your phone or whatever. You have to be committed to your rest.
Rest is crucial to your job (see reasons above).
Even if you’re one of those who “can’t sleep in the day” – by simply closing your eyes and laying your tired body down goes a long way toward that rejuvenation we were talking about earlier.
Turn in earlier than you might normally do. This might mean giving up your favorite television show or staying off Pinterest but run for those covers as soon as it’s safe to do so.
Get creative if you have to. Arrange for a sitter or ask your mother-in-law to watch the kids while you take a power nap. Learn to sleep at odd hours and in strange places (there was a time when I’d curl up in the top bunk of the kids’ room because that was the quietest room in the house).
Do whatever you have to do to get your rest.
What If Sleep Isn’t an Option In Your Particular Circumstances?
It’s true. Sometimes sleep isn’t an option, and I understand that. I don’t talk about it too often, but when our 5th child was born with severe brain damage, it meant that she had to be hooked up to a breath and heart monitor. Her monitor alarmed every night – from 15 to 45 times a night – and we had to jump up to resuscitate her each time for two years.
The sleep deprivation was severe.
So please know that I have genuine compassion for all you sleep-deprived moms out there. And if you’re in a place where none of the above solutions are applicable, then here’s what I can offer you…..
Draw on God’s strength. I can’t explain it, but He can carry you through things that don’t even seem humanly possible (Phil. 4:13).
Be willing to ask for – and receive – help from others. Let the people who love you – family, friends, or church body – know your needs and get specific!
Remember it’s a season. It can feel like a long season, but it’s a season nevertheless.
Choose to be thankful. Now don’t get mad – I mean it. Whenever self-pity threatened to overtake me, I determined to ward it off with gratitude. Thankful my baby lived. Thankful that we were at home and not at the hospital. Thankful each time her little heart beat and she started breathing again.
Our sweet girl recently celebrated her 16th birthday and when I look back on those sleepless years, I can’t help but think how much it was worth it. And how I’d do it again in a heartbeat!
Remember that you have a Very Important Job and, like any top leader, you need to seriously prepare for your position. So get some sleep.
Rest well, my friend.
In His grace,
*This is Part 2 of the series, “How to Have a Happy Home With Small Children in the House.” You can read Part 1 HERE and Part 3 Here