When my oldest was “sleep training” (I don’t even really know what that term means, so I probably wasn’t truly sleep training), I worked long and hard to get him to sleep in until seven. He was definitely an early-to-bed, early-to-rise kind of guy. That was fabulous on the “to bed” part. Not quite as lovely on the “to rise” side of the equation. I just wanted—nay, needed—that extra hour of rest that he was trying so desperately to ensure I never got again.
I already went to sleep around nine each night, drifting off within seconds of my head hitting the pillow from sheer exhaustion. Bumping that up wasn’t quite realistic if I wanted any quality time with my husband. So I managed to “train” my little guy to sleep in a bit longer than his normal six o’clock. Obviously, I felt like a total rock star.
More Kids, Less Rest
Then came his little brother. Now I know that sounds like the beginning of every weary mama’s nightmare, but, magically, he generally slept until right about seven o’clock. No “training” required with this one—he came pre-wired (insert: angels singing). And I didn’t dare question a thing or think twice about it.
I was clearly superwoman and had just birthed a super-baby, and that was that.
Yet it wasn’t long into being a mama of two that I realized this is a whole new ballgame. (This is where all the mamas of more than two are encouraged to chuckle, knowingly). Trying to get anything accomplished during my day kind of became a joke—except it wasn’t all that funny. Every task—the dishes, laundry, vacuuming, sweeping, meal prep—seemed to require my full attention and effort. But with one little boy racing around and another crawling rather swiftly after him, I couldn’t possibly give anything else my all.
Excuses, Excuses, Excuses
So, for a solid seven months, I made excuses for why things weren’t getting done. And when I say that, I mean that I was constantly explaining myself and my daily failures to… myself. My husband most certainly wasn’t waltzing around the house pointing out the things that were neglected each day.
But I was.
I noticed every dish left uncleaned. Each load of laundry in the dryer begging to be folded and put away. Every single, minuscule crumb on our nearly black hardwood floors (yes, they’re gorgeous, and yes, they’re terribly impractical). I saw each of my husband’s work shirts un-ironed and every meal prepared late—or not at all.
Now, I happen to think that we moms are particularly skilled at filling our plates to overflowing. Motherhood resembles a bit of a circus, our daily tasks this preposterous juggling act at center stage. Sometimes we need to take a step back, allowing a few of the balls to drop to the floor for the sake of our sanity. We can’t do everything. We weren’t meant to do everything.
But that doesn’t help with the ever-growing list of things that simply must be done. The non-negotiables. I realized that, though I’d made some necessary changes and lightened my load, there was still a massive load that required my attention. So I did the only thing I could think to do. The only thing that would give me more time in the day: I began waking up an hour earlier.
This Mom’s Happy Hour
That hour of sleep that I’d once worked so hard to gain is now spent meal prepping, dish-washing, folding laundry, scrubbing toilets, sweeping floors, writing, organizing—whatever it is that’s a must on my day’s to-do list, it gets done during the six o’clock hour. All while jamming to some music or listening to the latest podcast, which makes it, dare I say, quite enjoyable. Yes, I sometimes feel crazy chopping vegetables and marinating chicken as the sun rises, but it’s worth it. Because I’ve never felt more rested in motherhood than I do getting one less hour of sleep.
My mornings are less of a manic rush to get out the door on time for my workout. My afternoons are less of a scramble to make the most of each sacred minute of nap time. And my evenings are less of a struggle to balance preparing dinner with tending to little humans when they’re typically most needy.
So, yes, I technically get one less hour of sleep each night than I did several months ago. But I’ve never felt more productive.
Fulfilled. Capable. Energetic. Present. Rested.
That is the kind of wife and mom that I know my husband and children deserve. And the kind of me that I deserve, too.