sleep debt


I'm sure you're familiar with the expression? You know, the cumulative effect of not getting enough sleep. Or, that sleep debt that you have that life, however it goes from this point forward, will never repay. And it doesn't matter how damn sweet those smallies are, doesn't matter how grateful we are for them, for this life, yada yada, sometimes that sleep debt comes crashing down on us like a tidal wave.

Which happened to me last week. 

It started when I had an off-hand conversation with my Mum and my sister Suze and I mentioned, actually I think Adam mentioned, that Ivy had never slept through the night with the exception of about four or five notable instances. And that in conjunction, we'd had about a year of both the other kids getting up and waking us up at least once a night. Each. Which makes for a lot of disrupted sleep. 

This has never really affected me. I can operate well on five or six hours of sleep, I never feel like napping through the day and I've never minded the middle of the night interruptions. For the last six months of last year we were solving a chronic leg and foot pain that Henry suffered at nighttime, and then the first six months here were in a new house, I assumed the kids were unsettled. 

And then I looked at my Mum and my sister staring in horror at Adam. Suze said slowly, "you mean to tell me you have not had a single uninterrupted night's sleep in a year?" and Adam made some witty remark, offered espressos all round and changed the subject. 

Mum and Suze were of course not going to leave it there though. 

And so I've had help and some very good advice. 

Things are going to change round here. 

The first thing we did: I had a weekend off. This last weekend. I went to Sydney, I stayed with some of our oldest and dearest friends (who don't have children) and they looked after me, let me take naps and sleep in, drove me to the art gallery and walked me around some divine quilting and fabric stores. We went out for dinner, and I went easy on the coffee. It was totally awesome. 

And when I came home, I explained to the older two kids that they needed to stay in their own beds all night. We've instituted comforters, some old, some new. I've ensured the room is warm, not too warm, their beds are comfortable and that they don't nap during the daytime. So far, so good. 

My other problem is that I'm a night owl, and I blog somewhere between the hours of 11pm and midnight. Which also has to change. There's something about the sleep we get before midnight apparently. A few nights of it so far, and it does seem to help. 

I think the hardest thing about crushing tiredness is the inability to deal with the reality of small folk. 

The upside-down messy house which seems to have a littered floor no matter how often you tidy. 

The dirty washing basket which is always full no matter how often you wash.

The toilet which always seems to smell of wee no matter how often you clean it. 

If I'm not tired I might be able turn them into amusing anecdotes. Right now I'm too strung out to remember my children's names. (I referred to Tilly as 'middle child' last week, not even about her, but when I was talking to her. Dreadful. Change is coming.)

So this week I'm going to drop in with postcards, not posts. Photos only until I get back on my feet and can make sure I'm hitting 'publish' in the nine p.m's, not the wee hours. 

Any other how-to-pull-out-of-a-stage-dive-wipeout advice gratefully received. 

See you soon.



articles & Recipes