In 1995, the United Nations Geneva Convention added sleep deprivation to the list of outlawed torture tactics. My children did not get the notice.
For the past couple of weeks, my kids have woken me up every single night. They want water. They want Goodnight Moon. They just want to take a fanciful trip down memory lane and revisit their favorite daily activities. They don’t want anything at all, but they breathed too loud and that was enough to wake me up. About the only thing they don’t want at 3am is for mommy to get some much needed sleep.
Let me tell you what over-tired Nomad Mom looks like. I have greasy hair and spotty skin. My head aches and my hands shake. I have a death grip on my coffee mug, partially in desperation and partially out of necessity. I’ve put on two pounds. I have called every member of my family by the wrong name twice in the last five minutes alone. After 14 days of interrupted sleep, I am the newly ensconced tired mayor of mega bitch town, population 1.
Does anyone ever stop and think about all the we parents have to do while we are exhausted? It is beyond absurd – cook, clean, work, nurture, feed, clothe, shop, drive, walk, contribute to society. And if all of that wasn’t enough, we are expected to diet and exercise, look good and carry on intelligent conversations. Is it any wonder we often feel like failures?
This is why I’m still talking about sleep. I think we should ALL be talking about sleep. Instead of making parents feel like failures when their newborn fails to snooze through the night or their three year old has a setback, we should find ways to help them out. It’s not that difficult! Here are just a few ideas I have that would make a HUGE difference:
- Limited night nurse care included in insurance: once a week, heck even once a month would make a huge difference!
- Insurance-covered sleep training courses: I cannot tell you the number of moms I know that desperately want help with sleep training, but can’t afford it or are too ashamed to ask for help. Why not make the courses part of the accepted new parent training regimen?
- Reasonable flexibility in work schedules: there is nothing worse after a horrible night’s sleep than having to drag the whole family out of the bed when the alarm goes off in the morning. What if we let parents come in an hour later and make it up at another time, every once in a while?
- Flexible, low cost childcare: we live in a mobile world. Many (most?) of us don’t have a relative nearby that can provide free babysitting services. We need either the business world or the government to step in with some support, and that support needs to include parents of children under the age of two.
I want to know what the rest of you think? What changes could we make to our own mentality? How could we better support one another? What should we ask the community at large to contribute?
I’m still talking about sleep. I hope you will too.