I get a lot of questions about sleep, like these 2 recent questions from readers:
I have three children 6 and under and am pregnant with my fourth. How
do you find peace and quiet to take a nap when you’re really
exhausted with pregnancy or a newborn? How do you teach your older
children to be quiet enough so all can get rest? My older two don’t
take naps anymore, but they aren’t quiet in their room during rest
Sleep – how do you deal with sleep? I feel like I’m always so tired
between not sleeping well during pregnancy, during the newborn months,
during teething/illness/nightmares – and then starting all over again
in pregnancy! I haven’t slept well in ten years. Any advice would be
I wrote a post a few years ago on how to get your children to sleep, but the essence of these two questions goes beyond simple sleep issues and into the realm of finding rest for mommy.
A couple of anecdotes from my own life to get us started…
1. It is not uncommon for me to fall asleep while reading to the children.
2. My husband bans me from driving in early pregnancy because of my tendency to fall asleep.
So, I understand exhaustion. I also understand pregnancy to newborn to pregnancy again. In September of 2010, I had given birth to 5 children in barely 6 years. Normal is fairly relative in my world.
I want to first encourage all you exhausted mamas out there to avoid the guilt trip that looks like…
1. I’m not getting a healthy amount of sleep if I don’t sleep 8 hours straight.
2. I’m neglecting my children if I actually manage to sleep during the day.
Instead, let me offer you this:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
“For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.”
If you are weary, languishing, heavy-laden, or laboring, you are promised rest in Christ! It may not look the way you think it ought to look, but it is there because the Lord is faithful!
So, what can we mommies do to seek this rest and really soak it up?
Here are some ideas:
- Live like the temple you are.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
We mommies are so negligent about this…myself included. We do great at the sacrificing part and terrible at the living part. Eat properly, drink properly, move your body, breathe deep, smile more, laugh more! LIVE!
- Teach your children to respect Rest Time. One of the most beneficial things I do when I have a new baby or when I am newly pregnancy is what we call Rest Time. However, you cannot declare one afternoon that everyone will be having Rest Time and then expect all to be quiet while you sleep soundly. There has to be some training involved:
- Lay down ground rules and expectations.
- Set a time limit to Rest Time (set a timer if need be, so the timer is the bad guy and not you).
- Give those who don’t nap something to do (i.e. listening to radio drama, coloring, reading, etc)
- Don’t even try to sleep that first day or two or three. Instead stand guard so you can catch anyone who isn’t “resting.”
- Once you are confident they get the concept, find a place where you can rest and still be within earshot (and eyeshot, if need be) of the children.
(Note: I have been known to rest in my husband’s recliner with a newborn in one arm and a toddler in the other while the other children rest in their beds. Whatever works!)
- Consider how you are spending your waking hours. Sometimes mamas are exhausted not because they are lacking sleep, but because they are cramming too much into their day. While the Lord does not want you to be idle, He does not expect you to be Super Mommy either. Often, rest comes with eyes wide open as we relax on a porch swing or slowly drink a cup of coffee. Don’t fill your day so full, you miss life’s simple God-given pleasures.
- Seek the Lord. Don’t forget to seek the Lord in all you do. Work for Him. Rest in Him. Pray often throughout your day. Expect answers.
Years ago, when I sang with a church praise team, this song was one of my favorites. Christ should truly be the air we breathe…