Tired Mom? The survival guide for getting more sleep (when you have an attention-grabbing toddler)
You survived the first year and it’s supposed to get easier, but for some reason, you’re still struggling with sleep. Sound familiar? Behind the myth of the supermom and the parents who seemingly don’t need sleep, there is the reality: that family life with a young toddler can be extremely exhausting.
This is the age when your child is learning independence while still testing the boundaries and needing almost constant care. Between morning tantrums, keeping on top of a chaotic house, and being constantly attentive to their needs, it can sometimes feel impossible to find time for yourself.
Relax and take a deep breath. Here’s our survival guide for getting more sleep (even when you have an attention-grabbing toddler).
Make time for sleep
The first step is to recognise that sleep is not optional. Getting enough rest is essential to restoring our bodies and brightening our moods. Burning the midnight oil is a recipe for stress and can cause headaches, anxiety and depression, making your days even more difficult. If you don’t get enough sleep during the night then why not have a short midday nap with your child? Other parents will wonder what your secret is to looking so good!
Look after your lifestyle
It’s easy to fall into the trap of using caffeine to wake up in the morning and alcohol to unwind at night. We’re certainly not suggesting that you skip your morning coffee, but it can be useful to limit both, particularly in the evenings. It’s also important to find time for exercise and switch off. A fifteen-minute run or meditation session in the morning can help you clear your mind and cope with the day ahead – think of it like a mini holiday (without the sunshine).
Go on a shopping spree
There’s always an excuse to go shopping! If you’re having trouble sleeping, then you have a good reason to treat yourself. Upgrading to a memory foam pillow and investing in sleep aids like an eye mask, earplugs and calming aromatherapy spray can make all the difference. If you’re catching up on sleep during the day, then a white noise machine can also help block out traffic noise. And that fancy hot chocolate? Yes, that’s also essential.
Create your own ritual
Routines are for moms as well as kids. There are many things you can experiment with to help you switch off in the evenings. For some, it’s about regular bedtimes (putting the kids to sleep first) and for others it helps to have a ‘no chores’ rule where you don’t lift a finger after a certain time in the evening. Instead of washing dishes and tidying up, listening to an audio book or having a long soak in the bath is a much better way of avoiding burnout.
This is easier said than done! The trick with setting boundaries is to start doing it sooner rather than later. Dealing with tantrums is exhausting and it’s difficult for them to accept that ‘no means no’, so it’s important to be consistent and pick your battles. Over time they will get the hang of the house rules and they will learn not to fight you on these things – like not getting out of bed on Sunday mornings before mommy and daddy are awake!
Burn off that energy
Our favourite type of exercise for toddlers is on two wheels (or three)! It’s fun, teaches them loads of physical development skills, and is great for building their confidence and sense of self. Taking them to the park for half an hour or letting them show off their new riding skills at home allows toddlers to burn off excess energy and explore the world around them. But beware: as every parent knows, there is a fine line between them being tired and overtired!
Find their quiet space
There are some activities that your child will enjoy more than others in the evening (and watching YouTube videos is not one of them!). You will notice that some activities have a naturally calming effect, so make a note of what works best. This could be reading a sleepy storybook, playing some soft music or dimming the lights earlier in the evening. Bath time can also be an opportunity for winding down, especially if you use relaxing essential oils.
FTake the evening off
If all else fails, take the evening off! Seriously, social withdrawal can be a problem for parents in the early years. Arranging for your spouse or a family member to look after your little one for the day can work wonders for recharging your batteries. You might feel guilty about spending the evening with friends rather than being at home, but this can be exactly what you need to feel refreshed and happy – and ready to be a supermom again tomorrow!
Did we miss anything? If you have a great tip for getting more sleep when you have a toddler, let us know in the comments below.