I often encounter the idea in the coaching world that in order to be successful, one must get up at the same time every day and have a daily discipline about exercise, and eating right, and thinking positively, and working. I have experimented with this idea for many years and the conclusion I have come to is that this advice is a little bit of bullshit, especially as it applies to mothers of young children.
For starters, in the early years, a mother’s sleep time is often interrupted. And five hours of sleep which has been interrupted multiple times is not the same as five solid hours, let alone eight, or God forbid, nine or ten hours of solid sleep. These days, my kids are eight and ten years old and I have been getting nine or ten solid hours a night. And you know what? It’s awesome. I highly recommend it.
Sleep is when your soul reconnects to it’s source. Sleep is when your body heals and your immune system goes to work. You want to be healthy? Get some sleep. A lot of it. As much as you want. When you have had enough, you will spring out of bed with energy to spare… excited and whole and ready to meet life again. Unless you don’t. And that’s not a rest problem, that’s an ‘avoiding my life’ problem, and who has that?! 😉
You know what I find impossible? Getting up every day to do yoga (or anything else) early in the morning when I haven’t slept well, night after night after night in a row. Or really, doing anything that isn’t triggered by an external motivation like a baby crying, a telephone ringing, kids fighting, or someone climbing into your lap for a snuggle or to nurse. Even alarm clocks are easily ignored and probably shouldn’t even be set in the first place if you have a child under five years old. There are still days I don’t even set the alarm. Someone will wake me when I am needed, and until then, I can sleep. Anyway, if I was already up I would miss my morning snuggles with my kids.
A good mom-friend once told me that her houseplants were all dead because they didn’t cry when they needed to be watered. We laughed so hard we had tears in our eyes about that. You have to be in it to get how funny that is.
If you have little kids, or even when you don’t: take naps as often as you can and feel like. Never feel guilty about it. If other people don’t want to nap or want to judge you about yours… that is about them, not you. Enough sleep will enable you to be the person you want to be: patient, playful, generous, kind, attentive, and able to create and hold boundaries. Otherwise you won’t be able to function well, or worse, you will get sick. Maybe only a little bit sick, like a cold, or maybe a little more, like pneumonia, or maybe really bad, like a disease you maybe could have avoided if you had rested enough.
You will probably be told, at some point, that life will get easier when things are on a schedule. Well, maybe that’s true, and maybe it isn’t…
Maybe “a schedule” is not a real thing at all, like “normal”. A schedule is just an idea of how things are supposed to happen, not how they actually happen.
Maybe it isn’t the schedule that needs adjusting, but our expectations about how we, our children, or life is supposed to be.
I am pretty sure no one, at the end of their lives, has ever regretted taking too many naps.