Sleep, Sweet Babies, Sleep

It’s nearly proverbial, you know. That resistance to sleep that is wholly ingrained in the youngest of people, the ones who always need that nap the most. My gentle reminders for a short restful nap are met with shrieks, and tears, and running, and bargaining, and just about any other tactic or obstacle that my busy toddlers can create to delay the inevitable nap. A little rest. Just rest. It must be ingrained in the mind of a toddler to fend off sleep with the fury of an angry rooster. Some days it seems easier to skip the afternoon siesta, but in reality, it isn’t. Rest, naps, and sweet slumber are critical to the emotional well-being of my toddlers. And of course, to their mom.

But in all honesty, I am no better. At 10:30 pm my fitbit reminds me that it is time to unwind for bed. And yet, at 10:30 pm I am still going strong. Finishing a load of laundry, folding a few towels, setting out the outfits for the following day. Clearing the days clutter so that I can start fresh in the morning. Jotting down thoughts for one more blog, one more article, another piece of music, then scrambling to pay a bill, tuck in the baby chicks for the night, and turning off all the lights. It’s more than an hour later that I finally crash, and yet my mind keeps racing as I try to get my body to sleep. When we are too busy to rest, we are simply too busy.

There is a hush that falls across the homestead in the middle of the day. Funny how it coincides with my own wee ones nap times. The activity in the chicken yard comes to a halt, and I see little groups of hens, snuggled up beneath the goat shed, or huddled under the belly of the van. The goats cease their playful antics, and cuddle up in a mash of straw and bits of left over hay. The silkie chicks pile up in the corner where the sunlight plays across their pen, a heap of fuzz and feathers being warmed in the sun.  My elderly kitty leaves her post on the bed, only to find just the right spot where she can snooze away the afternoon, relaxed in the sun. How is it that these animals know better than I? I, who try to cram every last bit of work and hustle into the hour and a half that my little ones are tucked away in their rooms, racing to accomplish just one more task, while the rest of the world that is my little homestead peacefully rests? The soft chirping of the brand new buff orpingtons tucked beneath their Ecoglow is soothing as I struggle to finish up one more thing before my gaggle of toddlers is jumping for joy to climb out of their beds again.

We are all in dire need of rest. We are all in desperate need of a break from the busy lives of parenthood, where the chauffering of children to their activities is draining on parent and child alike. We are in need of a break from the hectic rhythms of the work day, to slow our pace, and spend time together. We are in need of a break from the onslaught of information that we constantly crave, the status updates, the tweets, and the wealth of Google’s knowledge at our fingertips. We need to let our bodies, our minds, and our souls, find their rest.

I know what it is I need.

I need to still my body from the work, close my eyes, and allow my body it’s sweet slumber so I have the strength to face another task, another day.

I need to still my mind, to shut down the tech, to breathe in the fresh air of the country and breathe out all the cares of my day, and just be, alive, and refreshed, in the sunshine of the day or the stillness of the evening.

And I need to still my soul, to place it’s care into the hands of the ever-loving Jesus, to accept His rest, and allow myself to receive His peace. But I won’t find it if I’m running, I won’t hear the quiet of His voice if I am scrolling and surfing and tuning the world out with my iPad or my phone. If I truly want to find His rest, I need to make some time to be at rest.

It’s hard to shut it down. It’s hard to disconnect from the technology that I enjoy. It’s hard to refrain from googling the answer to every question my children pose. It’s hard to cut myself off form the workload, and lay my weary body down to sleep. But I am no longer a toddler who does not understand the things his little body needs.

I know my little ones need their slumber, so I’ll do the work of calming their little bodies down for sleep, no matter what antics they throw my way in order to thwart their own rest. And if I am going to care for myself so that I can be strong, and kind, and joyful, and accomplished, I need to stop the antics, and cease thwarting my own desperately needed rest.

Turn if off and shut it down. Close it up and pull the plug. Turn off the lights. It’s time to sleep. Sleep, sweet babies. Sleep, sweet mama. Just sleep.

 

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10 Tips for surviving sleepless nights and tired days

IMG_1655Sleep. I love sleep. And I know I need more, consistent nights of sleep. Even my dear sweet Dad lectured me the other day on the amount of sleep I get, but I’m pretty sure I learned my sleep habits from him! I guess you’re never too old to hear the wisdom of your parents, and he is right – we all need to sleep. Studies have shown how poorly people perform on tests, decision making, and driving when they are sleep deprived. In fact, driving on little sleep can be just as dangerous as drunk driving because sleep helps us make the right choices, think quickly, and react appropriately. But if you’re a parent, a student, or you work nights, you are probably going to suffer more than a couple of sleepless nights. Worries, busyness, and sick and teething babies, toddler nightmares, and thirsty little throats are great interruptions to our sleep. And it happens… so how do we function on little sleep? Here’s a few tricks I’ve learned from 6 kids, 3 years of seminary, and far too many sleepless nights…

10. Drink a little extra coffee.  I mean, a little. It’s ok to indulge in a little extra caffeine to keep you going, but too much coffee will give you the jitters and upset your stomach. Plus, it’ll keep you awake that night.

9. Drink water. Our body functions slow down while we are sleeping, so we need less water and calories. However, when we don’t sleep enough, we’ll be using up those resources more quickly without giving our bodies a chance to recharge. Add that to the diuretic effects of coffee, and we are quickly dehydrated. Make sure you keep a glass of water handy and drink up!

8. Eat well. Sleep helps us regulate the hormones that tell us we’re hungry. When we don’t sleep enough, our bodies get confused and we think we are REALLY hungry, when we’re probably just thirsty and tired. But when we’re tired, we are more likely to make poor food choices, and this is a time when we need extra nutrition to help us cope with too little sleep. So eat healthy – and if you’re extra hungry, it’s ok, just make sure you’re noshing on the good stuff – apples, carrots, lean protein, and any kind of fruit and vegetable will give you vitamins and minerals without destroying your diet.

7. Watch out for your emotions. When we’re tired, we’re much more emotional. When you feel yourself getting agitated or weepy, take a big breath and relax before you react. If you feel like you’re flying off the handle, it’s probably just the tiredness talking. Make an extra effort to let it go! And give yourself some grace for a bad mood. This day will pass and you will be ok!

6. Turn the lights on. When you start feeling sleepy, turn up the lights. Brighter lights will help you stay more alert.

5. Take a quick walk. If you have to get some work done and feel yourself dozing off, take a brisk walk to the water cooler, bathroom, or jog around your living room to get your heart rate up and rejuvenate quickly.

4. Get a little sun. Fresh air and sunshine helps your mood and your energy level. A quick burst of sunlight will give you a little extra Vitamin D and it will help you sleep better that night.

3. Skip the workout if you’re really exhausted. If you’re just a little tired, that workout might help you have more energy for your day. But if you are exhausted to the point that your muscles ache, you might want to give it a break and spend that time taking a snooze.

2. Reward yourself. Give yourself something good to look forward to at the end of the day. Maybe a small delicious treat, take out so you don’t have to cook, a little time to relax by the fire, or a favorite tv show you’ve been wanting to watch. Giving yourself a nice reward will make your day go faster and better.

1.Take a nap! Never underestimate the power of a cat nap to help you feel refreshed. I like to drink a cup of coffee and set a 20 minute alarm right before I lay down. If I’m really tired, I’ll be fast asleep before the coffee kicks in. The alarm will wake me up just as the caffeine starts to work and I can better face the rest of my day.

What are your tricks for surviving too short nights?

Monday

100_8863When it’s Monday, and the alarm clock is yelling to get you out of your bed and the coffee maker is clogged up yet again and you can’t remember if the kids did their homework or if the field trip is today or last week.

God is faithful.

When it’s Monday and all you want to do is sleep, glorious sleep, because it’s your only refuge from the hardness of the weekend but you have to get up because there are tiny hungry tummies and carpools to drive and noses to wipe and work to get done and gardens to plant and music to rehearse and lessons to plan.

God is faithful.

When it’s Monday, and you never did get caught up on those bills that need paid and the laundry that’s mounded up in the laundry room and the hallway and the sun’s not even risen but you’re up and you’re taming tantrums and kissing away booboos and you just don’t want to think.

God is faithful.

When it’s Monday and you’re still tired from the weekend and you’re exhausted and it hurts to move and the morning feels raw and you have regrets for the things you did and regrets for the things you didn’t do and you think you really just messed up.

God is faithful.

IMG_2922When it’s Monday and the lawnmower is broken and the laptop is barely working and the toilet won’t flush and there are bugs where there aren’t supposed to be bugs and you’re pretty much in the worst mood ever.

God is faithful.

When it’s Monday and your week is already falling apart and your life is already falling apart and nothing was supposed to happen this way.

God is faithful.

And when it’s Monday and the sun is shining and the birds are singing and you love your work and your children are happy and everything is right in the world.

God is faithful.

When the kids are singing “King of kings and Lord  of lords” at the top of their lungs all the way to school just because.

God is faithful.

And when the kids are fighting because they were singing “Kind of kings and Lord of lords” at the top of their lungs all the way school and it got to be too loud for their own little ears.

God is faithful.

When your son holds up the entire car line of children trying to get in to school because he just wants you to meet his little friend and they come to the car and run off into school holding hands.

God is faithful.

And when news from work and news from school and news from your friends is nothing but bad news.

God is faithful.

And when you just want life to go back to the way it was and you know that it just can’t ever go back.

God is faithful.

IMG_0906 - CopyAnd when it’s good and it’s bad and it’s both all at the same time and you cannot take it all in so you just don’t even try.

God is faithful.

And when it’s Monday or it’s Tuesday or it’s Friday or it’s Saturday God is faithful.

And when things are going right and things are going wrong and things are completely out of our control all we can do is trust in the one who has always been who always will be faithful.

And when you need to remember that He has pulled you through before and He will overcome again take a big breath and let it out and turn it over to Him.

God is faithful.

When life gets too busy

We are all so so busy. Can’t eat right, can’t think straight, have to make a list just to go to the gas station kind of busy. Can’t remember if I’m coming, or going, or which day it is, or what appointments I need to schedule, or cancel, or rearrange, and what homework needs done and then there’s always that pile of laundry to do before the busy week begins all over again. And just when I think I’m getting a handle on the busy, something happens. Doesn’t something always happen? Like the flu. Or a little one needing breathing treatments so he can breathe easy at night. Or a car that needs repaired and a dozen or so bills that are still lying on the counter, waiting to be paid. Yeah, something always happens and I lose control of the busy and everything gets derailed and suddenly there are goldfish crumbs smashed in the carpet and the vacuum is broken because the kids tried to help and the laundry’s not done and the dishes have piled up and I know you’ve been in that place where there is nothing but busy. I know you’re busy, too, and you’re probably sitting here reading and drinking your coffee and trying not to think about being busy because you just can’t stand one more minute of the busy.

So make it stop.woman-hand-smartphone-desk-(1)

You heard me. We have control over most of this. So just make it stop. If you don’t want to be so busy, make it stop. I want to stop the busy.

Sitting here, on the sofa, during naps for 4 children with my 10 year old laptop that is barely keeping up with the words I am typing and the thoughts I am thinking, this is my respite from the busy. And I get a few moments of peace so that I can clear my head from the busy and straighten my thoughts out on this little computer screen until it’s time for the naps to be over and some of that busy begins again.

Why should I waste my life on the busy? Busy just makes for stress, and stomach aches, and weariness, and aching bones, and tired all the time because I am up so late at night finishing up the stuff that makes me busy that I don’t get to sleep. And then the next day’s busy is so much harder to complete because I am still worn out from the busy the day before and I just need to make all the busy stop.

I need to stop the busy. Everyone is busy.

There are so many good things in my life, happy things, right things, positive things, hopeful things, great things, good things, but they are all things that make me busy so what I need to is figure out which ones are the most important things and let the rest go.

You heard me. You have to let go of good things so you can enjoy better things more. You have to stop the busy.

We didn’t get in this place overnight. Busy happens gradually, it sneaks up on you in little bits and moments, a little today, and yes, you can coffee-cup-apple-iphonehelp out tomorrow, and ok, you’ll add those projects to your work deadline, and oh, alright, you can help make a few extra dioramas for reading class, and wait, there ‘s a science project, too…. and next thing you know, the schedule is overflowing with things that make you feel busy and you just can’t get anything done because you are just plain too busy and the things you really want the most are getting lost in the shuffle of the busy.

So let’s make it stop.

Problem is, when I get too busy, and I’m tired, and I’m not sleeping, and I’m not getting enough done, the thing that is most important to me is the thing that really suffer and get lost in the busy. My time to spend with God, it just gets gypped because yes, I can pray in the van while I’m waiting in the pick up line, it’s not bad. And I can listen to Christian music on my phone when I need a devotional moment, and I can talk to God later when the kids are in bed, but oh wait, I still have to finish that laundry and do that thing for work and pay some bills that I forgot and I’m just too tired so God will have to wait to hear from me until tomorrow. And then I don’t get to visit with God and my soul suffers and my heart withers and resentment creeps in where love used to be and it isn’t pretty at all. And that is the number one reason I need to stop the busy.

Let’s make a plan. Let’s stop the busy. Let’s let something go. Pick a thing, any thing, it might be a good thing, and let it go so you can be one thing closer to stopping the busy. Together, let’s do it. Let’s stop the busy.

 

Satan loves Saturday night

IMG_4036
I think that I am not alone in this.

I think a good night’s sleep is important, kind of critical, in fact desperately needed. For my sanity. And everyone else’s. Beauty sleep, they call it. Attitude sleep is what I think it really is. And I need it. Especially for Sunday, when I lead worship. When I want have myself together, be at my best, so I can help others to worship their Savior. Sleep is as critical as breathing.

But I think that Satan must love Saturday night.

 

It’s 11:30 pm. Lights off, my head sinks into the pillow, my body gives a  big sigh of relief. I love my bed.

Sadly, Sleep doesn’t come, so I pray a bit, and rest.
It must be just about midnight, when I finally doze off. It is bliss.

Oh no! At 12:10 I am awakened by a mini heart attack as the sound of elephants stampeding through the house quickens my heart to a jolting pace. What’s going on? Is the house falling down? An earth quake? Are there really elephants above me? What?
Oh wait it’s just the cat.

The really old cat who barely, rarely, gets out of bed is running around the house like a stampede of elephants.IMG_4033

Ok, I can go back to sleep.  Just as soon as my heat rate gets back to normal.

12:20 Once, again, dozing off and returning to sleep. Ahhhh, bliss.

12:29. A giant thump in the foyer gives me another mini heart attack. Did someone fall down the steps? Is the house caving in again?

Really cat? That was you? You sleep 92% of your life away, why can’t some of it be now?

12:45 Return to bliss after mini heart attack subsides.

1:10 Jolted awake by the sound of a small child’s coughing fit. It quickly subsides.

1:12 Is that more coughing? Do I need to get up and do something?

No, this time it’s the cat. Hacking up a hair ball

On the bed.
Jump up and move cat to the floor to save the comforter.IMG_4028
Clean up the yuck.
Crawl in bed. Sink into the pillow. Relax. I really really love my bed.

1:17 The baby begins to fuss. She’s hungry. Or maybe needs changed.  Both, probably.
Tap the hubby. It’s your turn.
No response from hubby.
Tap the hubby harder.

Still no response.
Shake hubby. Get up get up I want to sleep. And my attitude clearly reflects it.
Doze, but not quiet sleep, as hubby feeds baby for the next hour.

2:20 Everyone gets settled.
Head sinks into pillow. Eyes closed. Sleep comes quickly. Bliss. Oh, how I love my bed. Maybe someday, I will marry my bed.

3:20. More coughing.  It’s the cat again.
Hacking up a hair ball. In the freaking bed. This cannot possibly be happening.
Move cat to floor to save the comforter. Forget the yuck.
Climb in bed. Head sinks into pillow. Eyes close.

4:07 Eyes pop open. Breath catches. Gulp. Someone’s staring at me. Two someones, actually. Preschoolers. “Mommy. Mommy wake up. We need tucked in.”  Ok. Ok. I’ll tuck you in.

4:12 Bliss is tainted by crazy dreams about Target and shopping and houses and elephants and hairballs.
And then the phone rings and rings. Somebody answer the phone. Please. Please because I love my bed and I want to sleep. I need bliss.
Oh wait.
4:45 am. It isn’t the phone. It’s not someone calling me in the middle of the night.

It’s the alarm and it’s time to get up.
It is Sunday. And I will do my best with what I have to praise our Savior, and create the opportunity for others to do the same.

But first, coffee. I love my coffee. Coffee is bliss.