Tuesday, July 24, 2012

On the Fear of Missing Out

I’m sleep deprived. Well, duh, you are thinking, you have a four month old. Really, though, if we had a conventional childcare/work schedule as a family, I probably would not be as deprived as I am, and neither would my husband. Hayden sleeps mostly through the night these days, which is amazing, as young as he is. He normally goes to sleep between 8:30 and 9:30pm and then sleeps through until between 5:00 and 7:00am. If he wakes up during that period, it is usually only once and very briefly (according to my husband, anyway, who handles the night time routine) for either a snack and/or a diaper change. So, if we had a conventional schedule, with both of us working a 9-5, M-F work week, we’d probably be doing pretty well! We could take turns with the middle of the night wake-ups and the early mornings, and we’d be just fine, probably.

Hayden, one month old
Of course, as are most things in my life, our work schedules are anything but conventional. Well, Chris’s is, actually. If anything ,his is even more flexible than the conventional schedule, with his ability to slightly alter his hours and work from home occasionally. Mine, though, is not so much. I work an overnight shift in public service, so I leave for work while Chris is getting Hayden ready for bed, and then I get home in the morning usually a little bit before Hayden wakes up. This is great for me, in a way, because of that question people always ask when one returns to work after maternity leave. Is it hard leaving the baby at home? The answer, for me, was, “Well...not so much. He’s asleep, after all.” And so while I am at work all night I am not missing my baby too much. I am not needing to constantly take breaks to text home and see how he is doing, because I know that both he and my hubby are fast asleep, and I take comfort in knowing that. 

It’s during the day time that I worry about missing out. We can’t really afford childcare at the moment, and I’d much rather not put him in daycare anyway until he is older, so, while Chris watches out for Hayden at night time while I’m at work, I take care of him during the day. I love this deal, really, even though I dreaded it at the beginning (see my post on going back to work). I get to spend time with Hayden all day (in between morning naps for both of us and an evening nap for me, plus dozing for me whenever else he dozes during the day), and then do my part for our household finances by going to work at night. 
Obviously, I’m sure you can see the issue with this “great deal” that I love. When the heck do I sleep?  That’s been a huge issue for me to figure out since I started back at work last month, because of this major concern I have with missing out on time with Hayden. The sleep I get in the morning when I first get home has never bothered me because he is usually asleep at the same time. It is once he’s woken up, though, and I am up with him (and fully responsible) that the guilt and fear set in.

By encouraging him to nap more and play in bed with me in the morning, am I somehow understimulating him so that I can get more rest?

Am I causing issues that will be difficult to reverse by letting him hang out in my bed instead of putting him in his crib every time he dozes off for a nap?

Am I letting him entertain himself too much in the afternoons because I am too tired to engage him enough?

Does he spend too much time in front of the tv watching Little Einsteins while I try to tidy up between naps so that I can doze when he does?

What if, when I go to lie down for a few hours after Chris gets home from work, he does something new? What if he sits up, or plays with a new toy, or sticks his foot in his mouth, or does some other equally silly but oh so important thing while I am upstairs sleeping away?

Am I keeping him in his stroller too much in the afternoons because we go out and walk around the mall or Target or some other store so that I stay awake better? 

Mostly, am I missing out on activities that we should be participating in together because I need to sleep?

The answer to most of these questions, I know, is that what I am doing is just fine, and if I miss out on something the first time he does it, odds are he’ll do it again and I’ll see it that time. Does that make me feel better? Sometimes. Not always. And I know I’m not alone with these feelings, so that helps a little, too. At first, when I came back to work, I fought the need for sleep in the evenings so that I could spend extra time with my boys. Finally, though, the lack of sleep caught up with me so that it ended up outweighing that need to be with them as much as possible, and I’ve started taking advantage of my wonderful husband and the fact that he takes over with Hayden as soon as he gets home from work so that I can get some extra sleep.

Caught by Dad, passed out on the couch together
Am I still sleep deprived? Absolutely, although not nearly as bad as I was a couple of weeks ago when I was still fighting what is necessary for daily functioning. Do I still fear missing out? Oh, yes, of course. Despite this fear, though, I have realized that in order to be a good mother to my baby and a good wife to my husband, I need to take care of myself as well. I need to make sure I am rested so that the health issues I already have don’t get any worse and so that new ones don’t crop up. I also need to make sure that I get the sleep I need so that I can focus fully on the time that I do spend with my little family instead of focusing on not falling asleep sitting up (yes, I’ve done it. As I told my sister the other day, it is amazing what positions you can fall asleep in if you are tired enough!).
The anxiety regarding lacking sleep, missing out, and not being engaging enough comes and goes, but I am finally learning to cope with it.

Have you struggled with the balance between spending time with your family and taking care of yourself? What techniques or solutions did you come up with to cope with this struggle?

1 comment:

  1. I don't know how you do it. I simply can't function without a night of good sleep.

    I hope you figure out how to make it work.