Dear Home Ec 101,
I’m pregnant with my second child. If I could I would sleep until noon and nap after lunch, too. I know I need some sort of routine for when the baby arrives. Any advice?
~Yawning in Yemassee
First of all, take heart, part of your problem is simply being pregnant. If your first child is young (preschool age) then there is another huge culprit. Caring for young children is also exhausting, combine the two and it can be quite an ordeal.
First of all, for any naysayers out there, here are my credentials in the area of surviving young motherhood. I have three children under five, the youngest will soon be four months old. None of my children were bottlefed and the oldest had a wicked case of colic. My husband works rotating shifts that keep him away from home for 14 hours a day. The point? I’m still in the midst of these years, I do know what it is like.
Keep the time you get up as consistent as possible. (The first few weeks after birth are an exception, of course.) Take a nap if you need one, but try to keep it to a reasonable length and before four in the afternoon. Nix all caffeine after four, as well. In the evening, go to bed when you are tired. Yes, even if it is “only 8:30.” Humans are creatures of habit and it won’t be long before you find a pattern of your own.
Yes, I can hear some of you screeching, but I need my alone time! We all do, but that alone time must not be more important than your physical health. I highly recommend setting sleep as your highest priority for a minimum of two weeks. Don’t stay up to watch the eleven o’clock news, I promise whatever happened will be on the morning edition. Remember, we live in an age of DVRs and VCRs. Use them and don’t let television come before sleep.
My personal routine is to wake up well before the older two. I shower, dress, have a cup of coffee, and do as much of my daily writing as possible before they are up. If the baby wakes up, she is fed, changed, and I try to convince her it is not yet time to play. Personally, I am not a strict scheduler with infants, but I have learned through experience that toddlers and preschoolers are much happier with consistency. When we have one of our wild, I could pull my hair out type days, I can usually chalk it up to their routine being out of whack.
I wish you the best of luck. Remember on the hardest of those early days, that this is but a season and all too soon you’ll be losing sleep for other reasons.
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