The babies are asleep. Ready, Steady Arrrrgh-what to do?

Isn’t it a luxury when the children are sleeping? If there is one thing I have been blessed with in motherhood (and aunthood) it is sleepers. Not that It’s been an easy ride from day one by any means. There are also far more nights that one or two of my children will insist on finding me during the night and invading my sleep space, than not. By hearing the horror stories of others, I realise I have had it comparatively easier in this department. Which is just as well because the sleep deprived version if me is something that no one should have to endure.  I become an absolute mess and it is a far from pretty sight. To all the sleep deprived parents who get through the day in some shape or form- RESPECT!
I was pretty chuffed with myself the first-time I managed to get a 10 month and 21 month  old to have a nap during the day – in unison. I think on this first occasion I might have spent some bewildered time floating around in disbelief.  But also maybe not, because I know I had a lot of work on  and sleep time for them soon became time for me to fill with a patch of other working.
I shall add that an issue which has arisen here is that I have been spoilt. When the sleep aka sanity refuel bit of the day doesn’t happen smoothly, I get a bit twitchy. They owe me that time right? It’s alright though I love them dearly and it gets us through the day. 

One thing that hasn’t changed since the first short & precious newborn naps to their sleep now is the sudden rise of bizarre pressure. Pressure to USE THIS TIME WISELY (or regret it it for the rest of the day).

So initially I usually stop, listen out to check that I’m not imagining the bliss of peaceful infants. Then there’s the countdown panic of what to do… I might have an hour? what do I do..? I could: prep some activity for when they awake; get some of those emails looked at and replied to; pay bills or brave HMRC  and try to make sense or better still – progress with my self assesment. I could stick some paint on that bit half finished temple I’m building, do the washing up- the list goes on. All the things that whilst I am Mummying, I think would be so much easier to do child free suddenly become a possibility. But possible on an uncertain time limit. Quick do all those things!!! Some times I just sit down and have a cup of tea and a sandwich. That’s nice. 

Of course when they are still tiny you get told to sleep when they sleep. I’m not sure at what point this becomes less acceptable. (Not that acceptable should matter – you do what you need to do- I mean that.) I try to use the time mine sleep to do something productive or ‘worthwhile’ but actually Some times I do wonder if sleep might be more productive. This, however, is a tiny bit of time I get to be me. 

The other bits of time available to me are hideous O’clock in the morning. That depends on whether my ninja skills are up to scratch and I can successfully creep out of the room without the company of my littlest one.  There is also evening, I think I explained the pillow  race in my last post. Evenings are frequently a write off.

I am lucky, I get to have time to myself and even the luxury to write a blog. The space to process excessive overthought. 

This partivular post is being typed out at 4 am. Quick….They might wake up soon!

 

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Wound up, wind down.

I used to feel ever so guilty about being lazy, or rather, worried about being perceived as lazy. It didn’t matter how hard I had worked or how I was feeling or what I  needed. I would compare myself to other more capable, admirable hardworking people. If those people did have a break they were worthy of it, and I know people who carry on like absolute troopers. Perhaps that works for them.

I don’t feel like I can do that though. I get so incredibly tired, I have been known to some times get up at 5am – or earlier, push on through the day – It’s a struggle, and when I get to early evening I am spent. I NEED my children to be in bed because I can’t stay up any longer. Sometimes the bedtime routine, or what little there is of one, goes completely AWOL in my desperate bid to get my head on that pillow. My head doesn’t always make it to a pillow. I have laughed with friends about my super power being that I can sleep almost anywhere if tiredness hits me. Sometimes I feel close to exhaustion, or just so low that I physically don’t feel like I can pick myself up. If I do move I feel slow and my body feels especially cumbersome.

On days off I regularly encourage my children to watch a film, read books and my favourite outfit is pyjamas. Then I might just pop on Facebook and see all the good, worthy hardworking people and what fabulous things they are doing with their friends and family. I would berate myself for being lazy, useless and rubbish. I still do this a bit but I am slowly learning not to.

Since the Easter holidays this year I have been on an anxiety rollercoaster. I had just finished one set project and then I received a letter from my boss asking of my availability to invigilate for the exam season. Invigilating. Nice, easy job. Borring even, if you like. What’s there to be anxious about? Good money for not alot of work. Sorted. But my brain doesn’t work like that. It doesn’t take long before I go into ‘what if’ overdrive. What if I do something wrong and inadvertadely mess up some poor students future? What if when I’m supposed to address a group of students, panic hits me, my words get stuck and I can’t speak? (That’s happened before but thankfully not in a formal setting). What if I cry? What if my daughter is poorly and I have to let them down at work at the last minute? What if she doesn’t like nursery? What if they leave me on my own now and I get it all wrong? What if? What if? What bloomin’ if??? It’s just invigilating, but what if? I ended up on the phone to my cousin in floods of tears through anxiety, I fell out with my Mum and I couldn’t arrange to do anything fun because the knowledge that this work was looming prevented me from actually enjoying myself. I ended up taking a trip to the doctor and was prescribed some SRIs to help level my mood. If I hadn’t, I honestly don’t think I could have worked this time round. Maybe that sounds pathetic. I was feeling like wasn’t in control, I was miserable andfelt like everything was completely impossible. I got through the invigilating, still looking after my niece three days a week and tried to be kind to myself for doing so. Then with about a weeks reprieve I was given the next set making project with approximately one month to complete the work. I wad tired and on one ocaasion found myself in the bathroom staring vacantly in to the air and shaking my head at no one declaring ‘I can’t do this’! It felt like more and more events were happening in my son’s last term at primary school that I couldn’t keep up and that being self employed/working from home meant I had to attend everything. It’s actually been lovely and I fully appreciate that I am fortunate to get to do this and share in my son’s achievements. It has however been another emotional climb on the rollercoaster and I have been trying to help my son deal with his anxieties as well as my own.  

Throughout this I have had to take time out occassionally. I’ve hermatized somewhat and again, I am fortunate that my very best friends and family do not take this personally and understand my need to rest, recuperate and recharge. If I allow myself to take time. If I allow myself a day or so where I do little and don’t call myself names or make shaming jokes about myself when I explain how my day went. If I let myself rest; I have found that when I confront the next day or pocket of bussyness I have the energy to do so. I feel more healthy and able. 
Having a lot on, especially lots of various different jobs and responsibilities is tiring and I can end up in a semi prolonged fight or flight state. This can be useful in that the adrenaline can help get me through certain activities or events. Did I mention that between invigilating, set building, childminding, and parenting I also applied for a job? I got an interview, prepared a 15 minute reading activity, survived the interview but just fell short of getting the job. Maybe I’ll explain that in more detail another time.  I’m pretty sure that remaining in a fight or flight state would be detrimental to my emotional and physical health and also my productivity. After a period of tension it can take a little while to believe that It’s okay to slow down and let my guard down for a bit. It’s like I’m still ready for that Sabre Tooth Tiger y’know? It probably goes someway to explaining why I get so very tired. 

I have had the fortune to have the most wonderful friends who encourage me to administer self care. Who let me know that this is not an indulgence. Instead it is a vital part of looking after ones self, of staying healthy, and by doing this I am in a better position to look after others too. 

I could try to make myself keep soldiering on until I burn out, but what good would that be? So this summer holiday I’m going to have some days off. I might read a book, soak in the bath, enjoy some time in the garden, with my children, family and friends. I might stay in pyjamas all day some days, drink tea and eat cake. I am NOT however on any account going to apologize for any of it.