Click goes the light,
you're all snug and tight,
into the night,
everything is right.
Every night you try to get to bed on time. You can't. It seems like such an easy task but you just can't make it happen.
I have been there, for years and years.
I remember in college as a competitive runner shutting the books and slipping into bed for my required 8 hours of sleep. There was no option, I had to get my sleep and stay healthy. Yes, my GPA probably went down from a 3.7 to a 3.65 since I was a student-athlete.
I am done having babies because I can't go through the sleepless nights. Those 8 years with infants was a long stretch of sleep deprivation where I should not have been even driving.
Then came the years of children's activities that sucked up all the afternoon and evening hours as I was out of the house attending to their schedule.
All these years I have known the value of sleep. I know I need at least eight to nine hours, often more when training with high weekly miles. I understand that sleep will speed up my recovery, make my brain more alert, and in reality improve relationships with my family members. I can know. I can wish. But how can I actually make it happen? I can't change the time the alarm goes off in the morning. I can only influence the time I turn off the bedroom light.
Then came a night last fall when I returned home from my son's soccer practice to a house without electricity. I couldn't open the fridge, turn on the tv, use my phone or computer. It was unknown when the electricity would turn back on, tonight, or late tomorrow. As I laid in bed at 8:45pm, I felt relieved. Early bedtime, finally check.
The next day after 10 hours of much-needed sleep, I was like a new woman. I did it again the next day, even though there was electricity. Two days of 10 hour sleeps, had me hooked. How would I make this my new routine?
When I woke up each morning I longed for that early bedtime. I changed what I did throughout the day, inorder to make the appointment with my bed. All the must-do tasks that I filled the last hours of my old days, moved into the daytime. That way when the hour before bedtime came, I was prepared to end the day.
So what does this look like?
- The most important task, even if it seems a bit awkward, is done first. That way if the day goes crazy you can say, at least I did ____.
- Whatever I am avoiding is done first or second in the day.
- Dishes go in and out of the dishwasher throughout the day. Rarely do I empty the dishwasher. Children can empty it very well while I am making their food or in order to eat the food I have shopped, prepared, and served them.
- Emails sorted and responded throughout the day, leaving the lengthy responses to less busy days. Emails to read get put into the "to read" file where if I really want to read them they are easy to locate.
- Lunches packed directly after dinner, while all the food is out and everyone is in the kitchen. (Yes, my 8 and 10-year-olds make their own lunches and so can yours.)
- Reasonable expectations of what YOU can accomplish in 16 hours. Every new season of the year I write out a weekly by hour calendar of what I need to do, adding in time for managing the home tasks. It is like realizing that the huge dinner on my plate will not fit in my stomach and I need to trim off the excess. See another post from On My Mind on this topic.
- Children 8 and older do their own laundry. You don't even need to nag them. When they run out of clothes, they can drag their basket to the washer and follow the directions on an index card on how to wash their clothes.
- No stacks of papers. NONE. Only files. (If you have a paper pile sitting right next to you, put it in a box in your basement and if you don't need anything from it within 1 month, throw it away.)
- Touch something only once, put it where it goes the first time you pick it up.
- Keep a quick pace while working and avoid sitting.
- Social media is not bad, just have everything else done first.
- Grace for the days that are unplanned chaos.
Most of all if you always have the bedtime hour on your mind and evaluate your actions to decide if they will help you get to bed on time, then you will be productive throughout the day and prepared for the end of the day.
Honestly, you can only do so much in one day. The sun will rise the next day and you will be rested and ready to work hard and have fun living life.
Several years ago, I learned a very tough lesson as I was training for the half-marathon. My training was awesome but my recovery was horrible. I didn't sleep enough to recover from all the miles and speed work. Two weeks before the race I knew something was very wrong. My legs were dead even though I was tapering my training. During the race, my body shut down and my dream of a low 1:20s half marathon blew up in my face as I watched my pace slow. Afterward, I took a hard look at my life and realized that I had not overtrained but had under recovered. The two hours of training every day was not the culprit, it was the late nights limiting the much needed hours of sleep. The words under recovered hit home hard.
My love abounds when I am a rested wife, mother, friend, and runner.
Please comment below with your solutions to working and playing for only 15-16 hours a day and sleeping the rest.