‘Don’t tell me not to think I’m tired! I AM tired!’

‘Don’t tell me not to think I’m tired! I AM tired!’

I know you are tired, mama. Nobody denies you are sleep deprived.  
I have been criticised before for always including the tip to stop focusing on how tired you are, and have been told it is like telling a depressed person not be sad or a cancer patient that they aren’t sick.

But you see, the mind is a very powerful thing and you DO have the power to control your mind.

For me, if you are going to stand any chance of making it through the weary first years of life with our babies with any kind of happiness and fond memories, you are going to have to take your thoughts and mental well being in hand, particularly if you are blessed with a wakeful little person. Being able to shift your focus off your weariness is not to deny that you are tired, but to simply to tell your body and mind that it’s okay to be tired and that while you will do all you can to get yourself rest, it’s okay to think about other things.

Feel free to brush this off. If you think this is bullshit, go ahead and keep on telling yourself, ‘I’m so tired! I’m so exhausted! I can barely function, I’m so tired!’ And you just watch your body and mind fall into line. You will feel every ounce of weariness and tiredness and exhaustion that you focus your thoughts on and they will be amplified as you give those thoughts your full, undivided attention.

That’s how our mind and body work.

Just as you may have learned techniques to help refocus your energy and thoughts during labour and delivery to try and shift your mind away from the pain of contractions, you too, can employ similar tactics to help you combat your tiredness.

Just as a person with depression or anxiety may be taught mindfulness or techniques such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy that assist that person to manage their thoughts and feelings and take the unhealthy feelings in hand and recast them in a healthier light.

Just as a person who has cancer can acknowledge their illness and the challenges and trauma of the journey ahead while still focussing their energies on positivity and potential, you can CHOOSE to shift and control your focus.

***As a side note- being sleep deprived is not in anyway comparable to the experience of cancer. I am merely alluding to the effect the mind can have on challenging experiences in life and not trying to diminish the all encompassing experience that is cancer. ***

In my experience as a mother of a wakeful child, I lived the first 6 months as an anxious, depressed, wallower.

I wallowed in my weariness. I lamented my lost sleep. I bemoaned my child’s waking. I stressed and worried about my broken, disrupted night’s sleep.

I calculated how many minutes or hours until he may next wake, I calculated how long I’d been awake. I calculated how long it was taking me to get to sleep. I calculated how much sleep I’d not had.

My calculations always equalled exactly the same amount = I AM SO F#%^ing exhausted, I feel like death warmed up! This child is going to kill me!!!

Now if you go about your day with this awful algorithm dominating your every thought and you live in this never ending Pity Party mode, I can tell you firsthand, you are going to be the most miserable, depressed, shell of a person and mother.

But this algorithm is lying to you! This set of calculations tells you that you cannot enjoy motherhood or life as you know it as long as you have a wakeful child and as long as you remain sleep deprived! The good news is, THIS IS NOT TRUE!

These sad and sorry calculations only take in one part, albeit an important part, of your life that is sleep. There is more to life and your beautiful, wakeful baby than how much sleep you are or are not getting!

Accepting that you are going to have disrupted sleep and that you will need to work out how to get the best quality sleep and rest you can to handle these very normal night time behaviours of your baby can take a huge weight off your shoulders and allow you the breathing and mind space to think of something other than sleep.

Some days it will still get you. I had one such day last week. No amount of mind shifting and refocusing could deny it.

I was exhausted.

This is not only normal but also I think an excellent protective factor your body is demonstrating. Your body will tell you when enough is enough. The mindfulness and distractions only work when your body is able to cope and then when it really does warrant your attention, it let’s you know in no uncertain terms that your weariness DOES require your full attention.

On that day for me last week, I slept during the day for the first time in months. My body ordered me to take the opportunity as a matter of urgency. I felt about 3 billion times better even though it was only a 20 minute kip. I found that the moment I woke, the weight had lifted again. I could do it all again. I could think of other things and get on with my day. Sleep deprivation in tow but not as an anchor holding me back.

The mind is a powerful thing, mamas. Where is your focus right now?

Acknowledge that weariness, honour your opportunities for rest and focus on all that is good in your world.

You will have endless years to catch up on lost sleep in the future. Right now, your baby needs you intensely both day and night. Focus on meeting them at their point of need. You are doing marvellous things for that child of yours.

Chin up tired mama xxx

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