Making yourself a priority means taking care of yourself.
Taking care of yourself doesn’t mean going away for the weekend because you are hours away from a nervous breakdown.
Think about, for example, your car.
This is really simplified and not the best analogy, but if you are taking good care of your car, you keep the inside of it clean.
You wash it regularly.
You vacuum it out way before there is enough food inside of it to feed a small nation.
You take it in for oil changes on a regular basis.
You rotate the tires and you don’t drive it 100 miles an hour and if you can, you keep it in the garage when you aren’t driving it.
But giving it the weekend off once every few months and not driving it anywhere is not taking good care of your car.
Just as there are a lot of different things you need to do to take good care of your car so it doesn’t break down two years after you get it, there are a lot of things that go into making yourself a priority.
And one of those things is sleep.
I have just recently accepted this fact.
I want to be one of those people who doesn’t need a lot of sleep.
I wish I could operate at the top of my game on five hours of sleep per night.
But I can’t.
Up until about three weeks ago, I was getting up at 4 a.m. every morning.
There are a number of reasons for this. First, in the summer when all the kids were home all day, it was really hard for me to get work done from home.
So I started getting up really early a couple summers ago so I’d have a couple hours before anyone woke up.
That continued into the school year.
And then it just became a habit.
I also really, really, REALLY like having the house to myself — that’s the result of having lots of kids — quiet time is a rarity.
And the house is so peaceful in the morning.
I have also always been a morning person, so I function better in the morning. And I like waking up before the sun comes up.
So getting up early isn’t really torturous for me.
I like it.
But getting up at 4 a.m. would give me six hours of sleep a night.
And that’s just not enough.
I was always exhausted. And by the time 8 p.m. rolled around, I was super short on patience, and I was rushing through the kids’ bedtimes and being extra bitchy because I just wanted to go to sleep.
That’s not fair to them. And that’s not the last experience I want them to have before their heads hit the pillow.
Another thing I realized was that the first hour I was awake, from 4 – 5 a.m., I was not productive or efficient at all.
So I was really wasting that hour.
My workouts were also suffering. I was so tired, the quality of my runs was terrible, and I was literally yawning through my entire lifting workout.
Then I started doing a little research on sleep, and I learned a couple things.
One of the biggest things I learned?
First there is the fact that when you sleep less you are just awake longer and are prone to eat more. That’s a problem right there.
In fact, just one night of insufficient sleep can cause your brain to lose its ability to make smart decisions and send you directly to eating a bunch of garbage.
Sleep deprivation does pretty much the same thing to your brain as getting drunk does.
And I don’t know about you, but that’s one of the things I could not control when I was drinking.
I would eat everything.
I wouldn’t even remember what I ate.
I do not want to continue doing that to my body. Especially when I’m sober!
Plus, there is no medal or trophy or award for moms who can function on the least amount of sleep.
You gain nothing by depriving your body — AND BRAIN — of rest.
I’ve seen the articles and blog posts with titles like “This Is Why Moms Stay Up Late”.
I get it.
But there is a cost attached to that choice.
A pretty big one.
Exhaustion affects you physically and mentally. It causes you to make decisions you wouldn’t make if you were well rested. It affects your ability to work out and be a present and patient parent.
Of course there is a period of time where getting enough sleep is going to be a challenge. When you have a newborn, you just have to do the best you can.
But once your kids are sleeping through the night, if you really want to take care of yourself, physically and emotionally, you need to get your ass into bed. Without electronics. And you need to sleep.
At least for seven hours.
If you are one of the 5% that can function at your best on less than seven hours a night, well, you are lucky!
But that is not most of us.
That is not 95% of us.
Self care takes discipline.
Discipline isn’t fun most of the time.
But neither is being fucking exhausted 24/7 and being overweight, not to mention the other health issues you put yourself at risk for when you are consistently sleep deprived.
We all know how terrible our kids can be when they are overtired.
That doesn’t go away when you get older. You still need rest. And you can still suck pretty badly when you don’t get enough of it when you are an adult.
You are driving the bus. You are in control.
Take control of your sleep.
Be a grown up.
Get to bed.
Yeah, something will have to give.
It can be The Real Housewives of New Jersey or whatever Netflix binge you are currently indulging in, or it can be your health and your sanity and your waistline.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve decided to go with the choice that doesn’t store a shit ton of fat in my liver and around my waist and make me a raging bitch.
Kind of a no-brainer when you look at it that way.