I’m the mother of six children, ranging in age from six-months to 14-years-old. As you can imagine, I don’t often get a full night of sleep. I’ve discovered that the health and happiness of our home depends largely on how I respond to sleep-deprivation.
I imagine that most moms are in the same situation. We’re up feeding newborns, comforting toddlers, soothing coughs, cleaning sheets, talking with teens, planning for tomorrow, or praying through our cares and worries.
How can you and I have a good day after a rough night?
How can we thrive during exhausting seasons of motherhood?
Sometimes after a rough night, I simply have a bad day. If I don’t get a good night’s sleep, I’m prone to be cranky… all day long. I lose my temper, I have no patience, I’m angry, I blunder through our day and it’s just ugly.
But there are also days when God gives me the grace to thrive in the midst of this hardship. Despite sleep-deprivation, He helps me to lead and love my family well. Here are five things that I do to recover from a rough night of sleep and rejoice in the day that the Lord has made.
1. A Sleep-Deprived Mom Must Pray
Our all-powerful Heavenly Father sees us and loves us. He knows our situation and establishes the work of our hands for us. He ordains the work we do through the night and will give us grace for day ahead.
God’s mercies are new every morning.
The most practical thing we can do after a poor night’s sleep is turn to our Heavenly Father and say, “I’m exhausted. Can you be my strength? Can you please give me what I need to do this day well and nurture my children?”
Time after time, God has saved the day for me when I am weary from a sleepless night.
2. Don’t Count the Hours that You Slept (or Didn’t Sleep)
There are certain things that we can’t think about too much. We’d give up if we calculated our insufficient sleep because we’d discover that we get the same amount of sleep—and in the same REM-hijacked pattern—of a tortured prisoner.
If you’re tallying up those hours (or lack thereof) and they’re starting to get you down, move on. It is what it is. You’ve got a day to live!
3. Instead of Complaining, Ask for Help
The days that I complain are much worse than the days when I choose not to complain. The fog thickens when I mutter, “I’m so exhausted. I’m worn out. I’m tired.” I complain because I want pity, compassion, sympathy, and help, but it backfires by making me—and everyone around me—more miserable. Instead of complaining, I simply have to ask for help. This is much more productive!
I’m growing in the skill of recognizing my needs and asking my husband, family, and friends for help when I know I’m weak. Thankfully, they are always happy to come to my rescue.
4. Do the Next Positive Thing
When I wake-up from a rough night’s sleep, I look for the first possible positive thing that I can do. Somehow, this starts me in a good direction for the day and puts some wind in my sails. It helps me to say, “I’m alive and I have a day to live. I’m going to make good choices even though I’m tired. I’m moving forward!”
I take a quick refreshing shower. I add a splash of fresh lemon juice to my glass of water to get my metabolism going. I take my vitamins. I go for a quick 10-minute walk to get my blood pumping.
What would get your day started on the right foot even if you’ve had a rough night? Maybe you’d feel encouraged after a rough night if you:
- sang a hymn
- savored a 15 minute devotional time with the Lord
- enjoyed a cup of coffee
- connected with a friend
- invested 10 minutes in a hobby
- put a load of laundry in the washer
- read a chapter in your current book
Whatever it is, take that step in the right direction and you’ll feel invigorated for the day ahead.
5. Look for Opportunities to Sleep
If you are caring for a newborn or for a child who is sick or having a series of nightmares, consider adjusting your schedule so that you can sleep longer in the morning, take an afternoon nap, or go to bed earlier than usual.
Seasons of sleep-deprivation call for a change in priorities: maintaining your own health is at the top of the list! Look for opportunities to sleep and care for yourself so that you can be strong to care for the ones who need you.
God cares about us when we’re up at night, loving and serving our children. He is strong when we are weak! Let’s discover the surprising ways He’ll strengthen and help us during the day.
(This post originally appeared on Sonlight.com!)
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