tasty morsels of goodness on open platforms, developer relations and motherhood 2.0

Friday, February 08, 2008

working parents tip #3: surviving without sleep

when you're trying to work productively without sleep, it is a crusher. your child often tries to make up for the time you're gone by saving their alert time for when they see you -- at night. exhausting doesn't cover it. welcome to being a working parent.

but the end game for sleep, as my friend, alix, mother of a 6 and a 3 year-old, recently reminded me is not to get your kids to sleep through the night. that's right. even though that used to be one of the mid-century hallmarks of being a good mother (along with getting your child eating solids and out of diapers as soon as possible). sleeping through the night in the long-term is a parenting myth, a phantom ghost from your life before kids. medically-speaking, sleeping through the night is 5 hours at a stretch (my former twenty-something self always gets a kick out of that), and various things like illness, teething, developmental milestones will KEEP waking them up well after infancy and well into grammar school. you may get cocky at the beginning when you get a couple of weeks or even months of sleep for 8, 9, 10 hours. don't get used to it.

the end game as a working parent is to eventually get your kids to 1) fall asleep and stay asleep by themselves, and 2) have sleep be an enjoyable, relaxing state they look forward to, not dread or fear or eventually require ambien to attain enough of later in life. for working parents, the best advice shared with me revolves around a short, 20-30 minute bedtime routine that provides bonding time, but doesn't revolve around elaborate, lavender-infused bathing and massage rituals that you won't be able to maintain. a bedtime story, pajamas, share your favorite part of the day, then kiss goodnight is simple, nuturing, and reassuring - and blissfully manageable when you're getting almost no sleep yourself. that and a half-caf drip with milk no later than 10AM gets me through most weekdays. what about you?

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