I was out of town with a couple of college buddies for a long weekend and returned home Sunday evening.
As we were making the return trip early on Sunday afternoon my wife called to give me the low-down on the state of things with our three little kids, so I would not be caught flat-footed when I walked in the door (a gesture I appreciated more as the conversation went on).
The two youngest kids (who share a room) had a particularly difficult night Saturday to Sunday, waking up every hour or so. Thankfully my mother-in-law had been able to stay at the house to help take care of things while I was gone, but that only partially mediated the difficult night. My wife was exhausted.
I knew when I got home I’d be walking into the chaos and so tried to prime myself before the plane landed. I was very likely not going to get much sleep and needed to have a good attitude and make the most of whatever sleep I could get heading into Monday morning.
Sure enough, both of the younger kids did struggle throughout Sunday night, crying off and on. My wife got up to attend our youngest daughter (the seven month old) around 2 AM. She went back to sleep after a while, but then by 3 AM our son (the older of the two) was crying more loudly, agitated and awake. I decided finally to get up and try to comfort him, change his diaper of need be, and take him to the family room couch, in effort to give everyone a better chance of getting more rest.
He and I dozed on the couch until half past 5 AM. I reminded myself throughout the night that it was not only sleep which rejuvenates us for the next day, but also simply “resting”. I made a point of keeping my eyes closed as I lay on the couch, even while I was half-awake, to give myself the best chance to rest. I told my son over and over the same thing: close your eyes, it’s still night-time, it’s still sleeping time.
I think maybe he got his best rest of the morning in his last hour and a half of slumber on the couch before we went to day care, and I then went on to work.
The main point of this little tale is, as parents we need to expand our perception of what a good night’s rest is, because often we just won’t get the 7-8 hours the health professionals say we should get.
Especially with little kids, we have to find alternate ways of maximizing the rest we do get, and even though we might be sleepy the next day, not let our attitude also suffer from the lack of conventional sleep.
And expect to be sleepy the next day.