Once upon a time there lived a woman who could care less about balls, evil stepmothers, three bears or seven dwarfs. All she really wanted was sleep. In fact, she didn’t think Sleeping Beauty had it so bad. If her own prince (AKA husband of six-and-a-half years) woke her up with a sweet kiss after she’d actually fallen asleep, she’d probably not return true love’s kiss. She’d be more likely to clout him.
This fairy tale’s heroine is none other than me and these days I’m living sleepily ever after. I never sleep well during pregnancy. To make matters worse, my normally wonderful sleeper (Rae) has been more wakeful than normal. She’s taken to nursing in the wee hours of the morning again. I also have to deal with a snoring husband and a roaming preschooler who is a bed hog. She finds my husband and me most nights and spreads her body so that she’s touching both of us. Sounds sweet until a pinkie toe ends up in your nostril.
Then there’s naptime. My preschooler has never been a napper. When I had my second child, I actually expressed some concern to my mom because she spent so much of her early weeks sleeping.
“Honey, that’s what most newborns do,” she reassured me.
Who knew? Madeline was awake at birth and has pretty much stayed that way, give or take an occasional nap and a few hours every night.
Now, Rae, on the other hand, takes regular two-hour nap each day. She’s such a tease. Look at me all cozy in my bed, drooling on my sheets, and catching up on sleep. I hate to admit I am sometimes jealous of my toddler, but I am. Very.
So, what’s a tired mom to do? Don’t give up. Sleep when you can, and by all means, get creative, I say!
When I’m on the verge of reaching a breaking point, I turn playtime into naptime for Mommy. My kids soak it up. They think I’m giving them my undivided attention when really the only thing I’m thinking about is squeezing in a stealth power nap.
Usually, I’m only able to get about 20 minutes of relaxation in before my kids are on to me, but the good news is numerous studies have shown that a quick power nap can make a positive difference in your cognitive function and the way you feel.
And even though I don’t really fall asleep on the job playing these tricky games, I do close my eyes, zone out, and even occasionally drool a little bit (ahhhhh….nirvana!).
Here’s a look at my favorite pretend play that give Mom a chance to decompress:
- Doctor. I rest on the floor while my girls examine me with their toy doctor kit. I usually complain of something really painful and serious and suggest I might need surgery. Madeline is always up for the challenge. I tell her to give me some special medicine to put me asleep while she does her work. General anesthesia never felt so good.
- Hibernating Bear. I’m the bear. It’s winter, and I ask my kids to build a cave around me, so I can sleep during the long, cold weather. They pile blankets and pillows on top of me, and it’s dark, warm, and cozy. I find myself wishing spring would never come.
- Little Girl. This is one Madeline made up. She likes to pretend she’s my mommy and I’m her little girl. When I’m feeling worn out, I suggest she be the mommy at bedtime. She then mimics her own bedtime routine. As she gives me a backrub and light massage (something I do almost every night for a few minutes) and sings a lullaby, I start to think she just might be the luckiest girl in the world.
- Sleeping Beauty. Yeah, so I already alluded to this one and it’s not all that creative, but I do add a twist. It’s not a kiss on the lips that wakes up the slumbering princess, but something else (maybe a hug, an Eskimo or butterfly kiss, or if I’m really desperate, the singing of a very long song) that makes her stir. Madeline enjoys the guessing game. I do, too, so long as she doesn’t try to lick my face (yes, this has happened on occasion).
- Hide-and-Seek. When I’m the one who’s hiding, I find a really clever and dark hiding place, and I doze until my seekers find me. “Mommy, that’s a good hiding place!” Madeline tells me. Isn’t it though? The only catch is we live in a small townhome, and I’m running out of dark, concealed places to hide. The attic’s still game. Just kidding. Kind of.
- Off Roading It. In this game, my body becomes the terrain, and I encourage the girls to drive their toy cars or trains or whatever they want (horse figurines galloping across the plains of my body feels pretty good) all over me. I keep things interesting by shifting my position and creating new valleys and hills with my limbs and other body parts. During the treks, I keep my eyes closed, of course.
- Guess What I’m Drawing. I roll onto my side and Madeline, our budding artist, draws a picture on my back with her fingers. This game obviously requires me using my mind, so I can’t completely allow my brain to turn to mush. However, the delicate touch of tiny fingertips on my back feels great and makes up for the mental exertion demanded of me.
- Day Spa. Now I wouldn’t subject my kids to this if they didn’t seem to like it (not often, anyway), but Madeline enjoys lathering me up with lotion and giving me a massage. I spread a towel out on my bed and put on an old tee and shorts and let her little hands go to town. She uses way too much lotion and I end up a greasy mess, but regardless, I always tip her well (with a sweet or an extra story at bedtime) to keep my masseuse happy and wanting me to come back for return business. Hair salon is another variation of this game. But sometimes my stylist gets a little rough, and I usually leave with about 40 brightly-colored clips in my hair and few knots.
What about you? Do you have any sneaky ways of getting some R&R during your daily grind?