Why I Don’t Feel Guilty For “Sleeping While The Baby Sleeps” And Why You Shouldn’t Either

Sleeping Baby

Ever since my adolescent years, I have been a huge fan and advocate of sleep. In high school, I would look forward to an afternoon nap and sleeping in on weekends. In college, my love of sleep and napping grew stronger. When my roommate and I would have the expected late nights, we would make sure we caught up on our sleep the next day. We even crafted our own creative “do not disturb” signs for our siestas on the white board that hung from our dorm room door. Post-college working life and motherhood did not change my feelings towards sleep. I now just have to be a little more creative with when I find time to get it.

My sleep habits have often left me to be the butt of jokes amongst my friends. When I was working and would have a day off, a common welcome back question would sarcastically be, “Did you have a nice nap yesterday?” I am often tagged in sleep memes and jokes on Facebook, such as, “I like big naps, and I cannot lie” and “The 30-day napping challenge: Are you up for it?”. My relationship with sleep has never been a secret.

The connotation of someone who enjoys and indulges in sleep is that they are lazy. I have often felt ashamed to fess up to nap-taking, especially now as a stay-at-home mom. Since I am no longer “working” (don’t even get me started!), I feel guilty to admit to my husband and my working friends that I was able to nap on a given day. Everyone knows moms of young children struggle to get enough sleep. Infant feeding schedules, chasing toddlers and completing household chores can leave little time to catch some shut-eye. It is almost expected that moms be sleep-deprived. It is commonplace to find moms of young children comparing how little sleep they got the night before. In fact, it is seen as a badge of honor of sorts – less sleep equals harder working.

As someone who loves and desperately needs sleep to function, I have to disagree with this way of thinking. Early on I realized running on little to no sleep would not work for me, so I found a way to supplement the lack of nighttime rest. However cliché, if I am tired, I do sleep when my children are sleeping. I know this is easier said than done. There is always laundry to do, toys to be put away and rooms to be vacuumed. To me, those things can wait because I prioritize my sleep.

Sleep is a natural function that is necessary for a healthy, productive and happy life. Sleep replenishes physical strength, spiritual energy and emotional immunity to face the day ahead. I have always believed that everything seems and feels worse without sleep. Emotions are more raw and decisions are more difficult to make. I have found that sleep allows my mind and body to “regenerate” to its full potential.

If I do not have enough sleep, I am not the mom or person I want to be. I am irritable and have less patience. I do not accomplish things that I need to do. I do not feel well physically, and I am generally unhappy.

On the contrary, when I am well-rested I feel good and have a more positive outlook on life. I have more patience to handle the expected challenges of motherhood. Daily tasks seem more manageable and I have the motivation and productivity level to get the important things done. For me, sleep is an integral part of self-care.

We’ve heard a lot in the media recently about different ways society chooses to shame people. It is often talked about that we are shamed for the size and shape of our body or certain choices we make in life. No one talks about sleep-shaming, but it definitely exists, however subtle it may be. Let’s stop mocking and instead start to value and encourage better sleep habits.

Sure, my house is not the cleanest on the block. I am never caught up with the laundry. My windows cannot star in a Windex commercial. Yes, my “to-do” list will always have things on it, but I make an effort to get the sleep I need to be my best self. If everyone was well-rested (children, mommies and politicians alike) I am sure the world, and our homes, would be better and happier places.

 

[This post has also been published on The Huffington Post, Sammiches & Psych Meds and The TODAY Parenting Team.]

(lifelong learner) mom with a blog

 

“If we truly listen, our children will always surprise us with the depth of their innocent wisdom that has not yet been shaped by years of life experiences. Keep your ears and your mind open.”

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This past weekend my second article for Babble was published. This one is called, “10 Things My Daughter With Special Needs Has Taught Me About Life”.

The title is pretty much self-explanatory. This is a piece discussing ten things that my sweet girl has taught me over the past five and a half years. Of course, I knew that I would learn a lot becoming a mother. Parenting is a learning experience, right? What I did not realize was that my children would teach me so many poignant and important lessons about life.

I hope you enjoy reading this piece as much as I enjoyed writing it. ♥

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(LOL-ing) mom with a blog

So, I recently started playing around with memes and gifs. I have had an idea for one for a while that I just didn’t know how to put together. Well, I finally figured it out, and I’m pretty proud of myself. 🙂

Below is my first ever veme! I think it’s pretty funny. LOL. If you like it, please check it out on my Facebook page! Thanks!

(advocate) mom with a blog

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Five and a half years ago we were blessed with a little bundle of joy on the morning of Christmas Eve. Our daughter, Evalyn, came into the world as an early Christmas gift for us. She was born with a serious congenital heart defect and struggled after birth. Although we knew about her diagnosis during my pregnancy, we were still not prepared to watch her be whisked away to the NICU and transferred after only a few hours to a Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at a children’s hospital over an hour away.

The first weeks of Evalyn’s life were spent in the hospital and filled with medical challenges and procedures. She had her first open heart surgery at only seven weeks old, and finally at nine weeks we were able to bring her home. Due to her rough start in life, it was evident from very early on that she was delayed in meeting her developmental milestones. She began working with early intervention at only five months old. This is what it means to be a special needs parent.

The subsequent weeks, months and years have led to more diagnoses, more medical procedures, and hours of therapies. As time went on the degree of Evalyn’s developmental delays became more clear. She did not crawl until 19 months and did not walk until 30 months. At two and a half years old she was only able to say a few single words. Over the past three years she has come so far. Although she continues to make great progress each day, she is still significantly delayed compared to her peers in all areas. This is what it means to be a special needs parent.

Those weeks, months and years have also shown us the amazing little girl that we have. She is smart, funny and has an enthusiasm for life that is infectious. There are so many things that make her the person that she is – her kind heart, her quirky interests, her love of people, her smile. We have watched her grow from an adorable infant into an incredible little person, and we are so lucky to have her in our lives. She has taught us so much about strength and love, and has made our lives and our hearts fuller. This is what it means to be a special needs parent.

We are now facing a new challenge as we prepare for the transition to Kindergarten in the fall. As Evalyn is getting older, we are finding what an emotional process it is to try to show the world all her strengths that we see everyday. I know what it’s like to sit through seemingly endless meetings and feel the disappointment and heartbreak after hearing all the things your child can’t do. I know the frustration of having told your story over and over, and still feeling like no one hears you. I know how it feels to be fueled with determination to do whatever it takes to get the best for your child. This is what it means to be a special needs parent.

Evalyn, and every child with special needs, is so much more than what you see on paper. My daughter is not an IEP. She is not a diagnosis. She is not a percentile ranking. You have to look past all the evaluations and test scores and labels to truly know her. It is so difficult as a parent to see how so many people are unable or refuse to do this. As her mom, I will continue to do whatever I can to help the world view Evalyn as we do. No one knows her better. I will be her biggest cheerleader, her number one fan and her loudest advocate. I will not stop until everyone can truly see her. This is what it means to be a special needs parent.

 

[This post has also been published on The Huffington PostToday Parenting Team and The Mighty.]

(heavy-hearted) mom with a blog