It came as no surprise to me when the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently revealed a study showing that 44 percent of single moms with kids under 18 at home do not get the recommended minimum seven hours of slumber per night. Headlines blared about our lack of sleep: Single Moms Are Tired! And truly, this was no news to those of us pulling the single mom shift either because of divorce or because dad decided to be a "no-show" parent. But what news articles and websites didn't tell us single mommies was how to get more sleep! We know we're sleep deprived but could you tell us how we could get more shut-eye? Somehow? Here are my suggestions:
Leave the Country or Use a Sleep Schedule
Leave the country and run away. That way, you will be alone and able to catch up on hours of much needed rest. Of course, that would also mean not being a mom anymore. So unless you're ready to jump ship, instead of packing your bags and moving to Guatemala, try setting a sleep schedule for yourself.
What the heck is a sleep schedule?
A sleep schedule is when you set hours to go the f*ck to sleep (just like the "classic" children's storybook) and actually, go the f*ck to sleep.
This means you end up doing less around the house. This means the bathroom is dirty. This means you end up saying no to the PTO on making Valentine's Day or holiday goody bags. This means you end up saying no to the pedicure you need to give yourself. This means not responding to work emails after a certain hour. You need to set yourself up with a particular livable amount of sleep each night, even if that means five hours instead of four hours a night, so that way you can maintain your health. I am like a sleep drill sergeant. As soon as the clock strikes a certain hour, my phone goes on silent (besides ringer in case of emergencies involving my daughter when she's not with me), and then that's it. I don't care if I haven't talked to you in a year. I need to get to sleep or I will unravel during the week. This is one of the ways I manage to get seven hours of sleep. When I go below seven, I become cranky. And last year when I went days without sleep, I had migraines with visual disturbances. Sleep deprivation is no joke!
Tell Your Kids to Feed Themselves or Make Them Independent
Instead of making dinner every night, have your kids go for a "free-for-all" buffet, and feed themselves. They may end up eating Pixy Stix and bagels for dinner, but worse things could happen. You could end up sleep-deprived and naked in the middle of the bus or subway, taking a ride to Atlantic City or subsequently, a local psychiatric hospital.
Since your kids most likely can't make dinner (yet), have them do what they absolutely can do according to their ages and particular mental stage of development. You know your kids maturity and capabilities. As soon as my ex and I said sayonara to our marriage, I made sure to instill a sense of independence and hard work in my daughter, which thankfully, she seems naturally instilled to take on as a strong girl.
Make a list of everything you do at home and then, make another list of what your kids can do like:
- Fold laundry
- Sweep floors
- Make beds
- Put away clean dishes and utensils from dishwasher
- Pack book bag for school
You name it! Depending on age and maturity, find things that your children must do each day, which will leave you more time to get to bed earlier at night, rather than checking off an insanely huge to-do list.
Get Back Together With Ex (Call Deadbeat Dad Up) or Make Your Own Team
This single parent shift is sort of hard, isn't it? Perhaps it's better if you stay in your terrible marriage or simply call up Deadbeat Dad and beg him to go back. This way, you can get to sleep like all your married friends who, apparently, are getting more sleep than you are.
No. No. NO!
Since Deadbeat Dad isn't likely to pick up the phone and staying in an unhappy marriage is more toxic to your children than divorce, perhaps it's time you made a team of people who you can turn to for support and help so you can manage your workload at home and outside of the home more effectively. Doing so will help you get more sleep at night.
Who can help you with household chores or childcare? Who can you swap babysitting duties with? What jobs or commitments can you say no to? Who is in your circle of friends, neighbors, school professionals, etc.? What do they have to offer you? Make a list of all these things and you will start to see ways in which people can help you. I did this and now have a great relationship with my daughter's preschool teacher and neighbors.
Be Everything All of the Time or Say No
Do everything anyone asks you to do. Say yes. Say yes to everyone. If you don't say yes, people will think you're a stressed-out and overburdened single mom. If you don't say yes, people will be mad at you. For-EVER! Life will not go on!
Please. Say no. Learn to say no like your toddler says no. You are not responsible for making the world happy. You are not responsible for taking on more than you can chew. You should only carry the load that you are most certainly in charge of (like your kids) and that is tolerable for you and your health. When people die, no one shows a scoreboard of all the times you said no to others versus yes. But when we leave this Earth, we leave with our memories. Being stressed and sleep deprived means we leave the earth with less memories and more fatigue. More resentment. More "What ifs?"
I'm sorry, but I don't want to leave this earth with a bunch of "What ifs." I want to live my life to the fullest whether I leave the earth never having married again or whether I go out with a partner. Life is too precious and so are you. You are not here to save everyone and make others happy. You are here to make yourself happy and to teach your children how to make themselves happy . . . without hurting other people in the process!
Getting more sleep seems like an ironic joke when you're a single mother, but it doesn't have to be. You do whatever works for your family. If it means the kids cosleep with you? Fine. If it means you wait two days to wash your hair? Fine. Life will go on. But never, ever, ever compromise your health.
Rest well, ladies!