This week my Facebook feed was primarily made up of adorable pictures of kids going back to school and moms shedding tears as they watched their little ones reach yet another exciting milestone (this one included.)
I really, really love this time of year. Fall is approaching (my favorite season 🙌) and we all slide back into a much needed routine.
But there’s something that these pictures don’t show—behind each perfectly tied bow and perfectly ironed button up, is one tired mama.
I found myself contemplating another cup of coffee this week more times than not and suddenly waking up to the complete opposite of feeling refreshed. And here’s the kicker—my son is seven now, so new parent exhaustion should be a distant memory, right?
With being a school-aged mom for a couple of years now, I’ve realized that with each new school year comes a new set of activities, commitments and a whole lot of running around. My excitement for adding some structure back into our lives seems to also add another level of busyness—and the result always seems to be less sleep.
The thing is, parenting (albeit wonderful!) is exhausting no matter how old your kids are.
To the new parents out there—we know how real that feeling of exhaustion is. It’s so, so, so tiring. You will sleep again—promise. 💤
To the parents of toddlers—everyday is a marathon chasing after your little humans and you are my hero. #PourAnotherGlassOfWine 🍷
To the school-aged parents—your constant to-do list is enough to keep you up at night. Believe me, I know. I’m with you. 😰
But in the midst of all the chaos and stress are moments of magic and delight that keep you going and make it all worth it.
Still, I’ve decided that this year I’m making a vow to make rest a priority and here’s how I’m doing that.
1. I’m not going to do doing all of the things.
On top of homework, football, preparing meals and my job, life is crazy enough. Throw in PTO meetings, school projects and volunteer work and some days life seems impossible. This year, I’m going back to basics.
I’m learning how to say no and prioritizing the things that are most important. And for me those are—faith, family, work, school, health and then all of the other things. If extra commitments mean less time with family or start to affect my health, they aren’t making the cut this time.
With less on my plate and fewer headaches trying to coordinate my calendar—exhaustion becomes much less likely and rest becomes possible.
2. Bedtime means bedtime.
As parents, this seems to be a rule we have no problem enforcing with our children, but when it comes to our own bedtime, it isn’t as much of a priority. Maybe because we don’t really believe as adults that bedtime is something that actually exists, or maybe it is because those glorious hours of having moments to yourself far outweigh your need for some additional zzz’s.
Either way, I’m setting a bedtime and sticking to it, because if I don’t, the list of to-do’s will never end—and let’s be real, this girl can binge watch Netflix until 2 a.m.
3. I’m taking time to wind-down before bed.
So many of us expect to fall asleep the moment we hit the pillow (myself included.) Well, I have never been that person and it couldn’t be more annoying that while I lay there trying to trick my mind into shutting off, my husband is in a deep sleep and snoring within five minutes. I am also guilty of staring at my phone or computer screen too close to bedtime, which as most of us know is the best way to ensure you will have trouble falling asleep.
So instead, I’m going to try giving myself 10-15 minutes each night to read a book, listen to music, or take a bath—all of which help to relax and prepare your body for bed physically and emotionally.
4. I’m letting go of perfection.
I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest. I want to be a Pinterest Mom all of the time, but the reality is that is just too darn tiring. Far too many times than I’m willing to admit, I have stayed up until past 11 p.m. perfecting my son’s school project or making homemade cupcakes for the soccer team. Well this year, the kids are getting store-bought treats (gasp!) and I will actually let my son complete his own project (as I should have anyway.)
The reality is, I don’t have the time or energy to dedicate to being the next Martha Stewart, and I would rather focus on the things I can do well and that need my attention.
According to the CDC, sleep is becoming a public health problem and a rising epidemic in our society. As parents we have more than enough reasons why that can be true for us, but we don’t all have to feel like walking zombies.
We can start by making these small shifts together, making sleep a priority and getting the rest we all need!
This post first appeared on Mother.ly