The Things This Sleep Deprived Mama Does to Get Through Her Day“How do you function?”

This is the most common question I’m asked.

When people learn that I’ve spent the last six years plus existing on a minuscule amount of sleep, they are shocked, because I always seem so energetic apparently (they should see me at 3am!)

I used to love my sleep, and in my younger days had an uncanny ability to nod off just about anywhere – as demonstrated in the photo below.

Ren asleep at a bar

Nowadays, because I’m so very sleep deprived, there are lots of little things I do to get through my day. So here we go… in no particular order…

Coffee. I’ve come to realise that I absolutely adore the black stuff, and that it makes me very happy indeed. I only drink freshly brewed, cap it at three cups per day, and try to be done with my caffeine fest by midday. Otherwise I’ll be laying in bed wired, unable to capitalise on the few precious moments shut eye I can snatch before the kidlets start their triple team sleep thievery act.

Extra long toilet breaks. How else would I get my blog written? In fact how do you think I’m writing this post?

Making my peace with having a messy house. I’ve accepted that my house will rock the just been burgled look most days, and I don’t let it bother me. My kids can trash the place in an exceptionally short amount of time, and I’m hardly going to waste my energy picking up toys all day long am I? Oh how the standards have dropped between child #1 and #3!

Catching up with good friends. Not the school gate mums, not the play group mums, but real mates. Gals that make me belly laugh, and know me inside out. I’m very lucky that I have lots on my doorstep with children similar ages to mine, and I make a big effort to regularly see the ones who aren’t so close by. Then there’s always Skype if distance is a problem (several of my besties live in Australia).

TV babysitter. I don’t beat myself up for sticking the kids in front of iPlayer or Netflix so I can do a bit of writing, cooking, or staring into space.

Not keeping a tally. I stopped mourning the lost hours of rest a long time ago, and see no value in banging on about the obvious. I’ve politely told all my friends not to ask ‘how last night was’ because there’s a 99% chance my honest answer would be ‘horrendous’.

Eating great food. I eat a super clean diet which keeps me level and boosts my brain. This means saying a big fat no to refined carbs and sugars and eating tons of salads and good quality proteins and fats.

Funky music. There’s nothing like a bit of Uptown Funk or Shake it Off to snap me out of a foul mood.

A little tipple. If all else fails and it’s been one of those days, then I’ll have a G&T (just the one) to help me survive the witching hour.

Going to bed as early as possible. I put my phone on aeroplane mode and head upstairs somewhere between 9-9:30pm. The bliss I feel climbing into bed and under the duvet is pretty indescribable. Even though in my heart of hearts I know that I’ll be woken up roughly 15 seconds after falling asleep, I shall remain optimistic!

How do you get through your day?

This blog can also be found on the Huffington Post

changing my attitudeHow changing my attitude was vital for turning family life around

December last year was a dark time for me. My little family were on a constant loop of illness, both the baby and the 5yo’s sleep were in dire straights, and our girl’s behaviour was at an all time low. After a disastrous Xmas Eve Hubby and I read the fantastic book 10 Days to a Less Defiant Child.

We spent the entire Xmas holiday doing everything in our power to eradicate our own negative parenting behaviours, which were without a doubt having a massive effect on the kids. After a week of being super calm and not shouting, it became the norm to be calm and not shout, and now three months later I very rarely find myself shouting.

Good Friends

At some point before all this I was with a wise friend, who told me that her daughter’s challenging behaviour has been the making of her as a mum. Her son was really placid and a super easy kid from the off, and had her girl been the same she said she wouldn’t have had an incentive to be a better mum.

Nowadays she’s as much of a self-help junkie as I am, constantly on the lookout to be better than the person she was yesterday. She is one of my main sources of inspiration, and I am truly privileged to have her in my life.

It brings tears to my eyes to think of this conversation, because my friend said to me that I must feel the same. My reply was that no I didn’t, I felt that I was at breaking point and was worried my marriage wouldn’t be strong enough to take the strain our daughter was putting on us for much longer. You’ll be fine she tried to reassure me, but I wasn’t comforted by her words.

I was in such a bad place in my own head that I wasn’t able to look at it from a different perspective. I desperately needed to start changing my attitude, and realising that I was part of the problem, but I wasn’t ready to at that point. Thankfully reading the book over Xmas opened my eyes to how damaging my own negative behaviour was to our children, and since then there
has been much positive change in our house. I feel as though we weathered a particularly bad storm, and I’m now able to look at it in a less emotionally raw way.

changing my attitudeWe still have a long way to go

Things still aren’t as rosy as you might imagine though. Our girl is a terrible sleeper, which I believe drives a lot of her poor behaviour – she is prone to over reacting and throwing strops rather than articulating her feelings. She shouts and screams in her 3yo sister’s face and often gets physical with her but cannot cope at all if littlest lady throws a punch back. All she wants is to be a big girl, but if she isn’t asleep by 6:30pm all hell breaks loose.

I don’t want to demonise her, because she has some utterly incredible qualities too. She can demonstrate such fierce love for her family that it would melt the heart of an ice queen. She will sit for hours and create intricate drawings for us, and completely under her own steam, she made and wrote Easter cards for all the neighbourhood kids.

She is a fabulous kitchen helper, and can crack eggs all by herself. Don’t get me wrong she enjoys licking the cake mixture bowl, but will also help me make savoury dishes. I could go on and on and on here, but don’t want to bore you.

Facing up to reality

I think it’s time for me to face up to reality: my girl is not like most other five and six year olds I know. As I wrote a while back over on my other blog, I truly believe that her super clean diet is the only thing saving her from an ASD diagnosis. Reprobate Mum wrote this eye opening piece for Autism Awareness Week, which has been making me think that I’ve been looking at it all wrong.

I’m starting to feel that I’ll be doing my daughter a dis-service by not seeking a diagnosis if there is one to be had, because if she is going to stay in main stream education, she is going to need all the help she can get.

Have you been down the long and treacherous road of obtaining an ASD diagnosis for your own child/ren? I’d love to hear from you with any words of wisdom!