This morning my daughter and I went for our morning walk at the much more civilised time of 8.30am. It’s taken a lot of heartache but I am delighted to report that it looks like Tizzie Hall has indeed saved our sleep! Plus, I’m thriving on the new daily routine and I think Miss M is too. I only wish I hadn’t dismissed the idea of a strict routine for so long! She still wakes around 5.30am and cries a little, but she goes back to sleep by herself or plays until about 6.45am give or take a bit of squawking. To go from starting the day at 4am to this in less than a week, with the added bonus of no fights at nap time, is just wonderful!
Today we’ve had some distressing wider family issues, but because we started off with cuddles, a lovely walk by the ocean and a visit to the play park, I’ve been in a good frame of mind from the outset, so it’s all been manageable. My goal is to take Miss M for a morning walk by the ocean at least three times a week. She has a great time, and the benefits for me clearly go way beyond the physical. The ocean is there for the taking every single morning, it’s free and it makes me feel good. What better way to start the day!
We have completed Day 2 of Tizzie Hall’s controversial Save Our Sleep routine and while the past two days have been very difficult I have suddenly had the rather shocking realisation that I actually like having a more structured day. I’ve fought against the idea of a strict daily schedule from the outset because I consider myself something of a free spirit, and never envisaged a life where I’d tie myself down to a strict routine for me and my daughter. Consequently I’ve meandered through the days with various half-hearted attempts at creating household management plans that never quite seem to work, becoming more and more overwhelmed and frustrated as the months pass. I’ve spent so much time standing in the middle of the lounge room simply not knowing where to start and suddenly understanding the true meaning of the words “desperate housewife”. But now that I have put my toddler onto her own schedule in an effort to teach her to self-settle, I appear to have inadvertently made the dull domestic side of SAHM life much more manageable. Granted the place is cleaner than it’s been in a long time simply because I have to keep busy in order to distract myself while my Miss M is screaming during nap time (supposed to stop by Day 4), but I am also finding that there are other little slots of daytime where I am actually getting the mundane but crucial tasks done without any great effort. Indeed the very fact that I know when things are going to happen is creating a wonderful sense of calm and control. And calm and in control woman undoubtedly has a better shot than a perpetually frazzled and disorganised one at becoming a truly mindful mum!
I entered Motherhood a big fan of the gentle approach and my little girl slept very well for most of the first year of her life. Then gradually, as she grew, things changed, as I now know they always will, and finally the upheaval of moving house a little after her first birthday did for us all. It’s been a pretty hellish few months around here with regard to sleep as she has lost the ability to self-settle, so bedtime and naptime are very hard, and she often wants to start her day at 4am. I now completely understand why sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture. I also know what it can do to a marriage. Sleep deprivation has the power to increase marital strife a thousand fold – it fuels the fires of resentment like nothing else.
I’ve spoken with Tresillian several times, and tried almost all the other recommended solutions, to no avail. Tizzie Hall’s Save our Sleep is a controversial method, but desperate times call for desperate measures, as they say. So, since waking at 4am today, I have listened with a breaking heart to almost 5 hours of crying, and I’ve shed a fair few tears of my own. And we haven’t hit bedtime yet! I’ve also dealt with some unkind comments about my methods (why in the hell can’t every mother just live and let live??). However, I have also been overwhelmed by the amount of support I have received from my IRL friends and my online mummy partners in SAHM life. And when I was about to reach absolute breaking point this afternoon, there was a knock at the door. D is a relatively new friend of mine, but she is one of those people that occasionally in life we are lucky enough to find, one with whom we just click, despite differences in years, background and circumstance. She knew today was a monumental struggle for me, especially because to go down this new path of strict routines is against my cherished earlier beliefs, and she wanted to make sure I was ok. As we talked, I managed to rebalance myself and by the time she left I was ready to keep going as planned, with strengthened resolve.
Today has been my hardest day of Motherhood since bringing Miss M home from the hospital. But my most overwhelming feeling right now (apart from exhaustion!) is not resentment or despair, it’s gratitude. I’m so lucky to have women in my life that can and do make the hard times better, as well as sharing the joys. Today especially, I am mindful of that.