I have been a parent for close to five years. It seems that every year, I feel more worn out. I need my sleep. If I don't get at least six hours, I become a tired and irritated mom. My husband knows this and will tread lightly when he knows I'm exhausted; but my kids aren't old enough to recognize the warning signs and don't know when to stop pushing my buttons. I confess: I'm not a very nice or patient mom when I'm exhausted.
Being sick and tired is a horrible combination.
At the start of November, my daughter came down with a stomach bug, twice. The second time, she gave it to the entire family. Taking care of a baby and preschooler is hard when you are under the weather. I was so sick I had to stop and sit down every 10 feet. Obviously, a 10-month-old is too young to signal when he is about to toss his cookies. Thus, the aftermath of the illness was exhausting, too. I had to wash every sheet, comforter, towel, and pillow in the house. Despite being worn-out, I was still able to be mad. Why me? I hate this. I wish I were in bed sleeping.
I was done.
A few days later, the entire family improved, except me. I think I was so worn out from taking care of everyone that my immune system was compromised. I had a horrible sore throat and a cold. In addition, I was still trying to clean up the house. I needed to clean the carpets and put the pillow cushions back on the couch. The baby was still fussy from being sick and not sleeping. At one point in the day, both my daughter and son were crying. When my husband came home from work, I told him, "I'm done," and stormed out of the room. I went into the other room to lie down, and when I came back, the kids were happy. I felt bad that I had lost my cool but had desperately needed a break.
An exhausted mom is an irritated mom.
Sleep is closely connected to your mood. According to research from the University of Pennsylvania, "subjects who were limited to only 4.5 hours of sleep a night for one week reported feeling more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted." Since the birth of my son, I have had many nights where I was limited to less than five hours of sleep. This makes me sluggish and irritated. This is why I have started going to bed earlier. I may not get to watch any television, but I am an overall happier mom and wife.
When you are a mom, it's important to be happy. A good night's rest is the first step to improving your mood.
Some Parenting Advice for My Future Self