Hi, my names Rhi. Single mumma to Levi and the lady behind @Herhappinessproject. I was going to write about my story, in fact, I was halfway there. When I suddenly realized; "wait, am I even legally allowed to disclose this information yet?" (I am currently fighting for full custody of my son). So I thought it would be best to postpone that story until after I speak with my lawyer. Better safe then sorry is always my motto throughout this co parenting journey.
So this morning, at 5:30am, after rising to feed my son. I thought I would write to you all about sleep hygiene and the importance of sleep as a single parent, hell, as any parent. A little ironic, as my son has gone back to sleep; and well, quite frankly, that is what I should be doing. The last two nights have been exhausting to say the least, between my senile cat who howls at all times of the night, my son who is going through a growth spurt and my careless ex partner. I am so sleep deprived, utterly spent.
During the last 72 hour period, I think I would be running off around no more than 12 hours sleep. And needing to get up shortly to go to the gym, I am really not adding enough hours to that equation. I am currently going against what I am about to preach. But this entry is long over due and I thought to myself; "Rhi, smash it out now, then have an afternoon nap if you can". Yes, I take naps, whenever I can. I never use to do this. Until I was hospitalized from sleep exhaustion and living in an abusive environment (But more about that at a later date).
The reality is; sleep plays an incredibly important role in regulating us as human beings. We need an appropriate amount of sleep for our brains and bodies to function at their best. And if we deprive ourselves of this, seemingly simple necessity. It can have the most detrimental impacts on us, especially as a single parent. I guess that's why they use sleep deprivation as torture, it can truly send you into such a vulnerable place, and fast.
The weekend just past is a perfect example of the impact a lack of sleep can have on your mind. I was beginning to act and feel drunk, became highly emotional and also quick to temper (which is unusual for me). And not something that is a positive experience when caring for my son solo. By the time Sunday came around and a less than favorable situation transpired with my ex, I had simply, for a lack of a better explanation; "lost it". I had just arrived home after a long day, bathed my son and went to fix him a feed. Only to realize that his formula hadn't been packed into his back pack when I picked him up from visitation with his dad. I was now 45 minutes from my ex's location, all supermarkets were closed and I was nervous to drive, being so exhausted. But I had no choice.
So I called my ex's grandparents (as we do not see each other or communicate at all, for safety reasons). And asked them if they new where the formula may be? They called my ex and surely enough, it was sitting on his kitchen counter. When they called back to tell me this, their response was simple. "Oh it's ok Rhi, it's here at So and So's (let's not use his name) he will leave it out on the nature strip in a plastic bag for you to pick up". Mind you, I was now at home, 45 minutes away. With a hungry and over tired baby. Not to mention that this was his mistake and it is him that should have rectified it. But he lacks responsibility, to say the least. So it was never going to be dropped to me.
The idea of driving back to my ex tipped me over the edge. But my son looked at me and smiled, not understanding why mumma was upset (I don't really let myself cry in front of my son). But I was so DONE that day. My head was spinning, the sleep deprivation had really kicked in and my body ached. Knowing very well I would have to go and pick up my son's food seemed an impossible task to my tired mind. But Levis smile served as the encouragement I needed, and we were soon on our way.
By the time we got home, I was delirious. I popped Levi to bed and past out on mine, without getting changed or brushing my teeth. For me, that's unheard of. But it just proves how much I needed to sleep! It is now the next morning and I feel so much better. My mind is clearer, my body isn't aching and I generally feel so much happier and more relaxed. I have been playing with my son all morning and he is so happy.
So please, if you are an exhausted parent like me. Remind yourself daily to practice good sleep hygiene! Even if that means making sleep a priority over other things. Good or bad sleeping habits greatly impact our health and therefore; our ability to be a good parent to our children. So take that fiesta on your lunch break at work or a helping hand from a friend or family member if you have a newborn baby that just won't sleep. If they aren't getting any, you will need it even more to withstand the stress. Give yourself the opportunity to feel your best everyday by getting enough sleep. It is so vital as a parent.