The Power of Parental Rest

The Power of Parental RestWelcome to Day 9 of the 31 Days of Random Reflections on Raising and Homeschooling a Child with Special Needs. You can find the main page for this series here.

There just aren’t enough hours in a day. We say it repeatedly. And, we mean it, too.

There just aren’t enough.

Not enough hours to keep the house clean.

Not enough hours to finish up our work.

Not enough hours to plan the homeschool week.

Not enough hours to prepare the meals we’ve bookmarked.

Not enough hours to dabble in some baking.

Not enough hours to craft.

Not enough hours to meet up with friends.

Not enough hours to spend with family members we love.

Not enough hours to write that thank you card.

Not enough hours to read that email.

Not enough hours to journal.

Not enough hours to enjoy a good book.

Not enough hours to pursue our passions in the midst of all of the above.

Not enough hours to sleep.

Several years ago, before we started homeschooling, there was a period when I ran on 4-5 hours of sleep per night. The rationale was that I would maximize the awake hours as best I could so that I would be ahead of the game tomorrow.

It was the only way I imagined gaining some hours in my life to complete the never-ending to-do list.

Sleep? No time for that.

Until, one day, I didn’t have a choice.

My body started shutting down. And, there was no alternative but to give myself time.

My eye and cheek started twitching involuntarily over a span of a week. It wasn’t until an ER nurse explained that these were symptoms of extreme fatigue that I stopped dead in my tracks.

I wasn’t choosing to be superwoman. I wasn’t choosing to stay up late so that I could be better than the next person.

I had been sleep deprived since the birth of our son. He was 4 years old at the time. He is almost 8 now, and the sleep patterns are still not regular. Depending on the time he falls asleep, the night-waking is pretty predictable. If he falls asleep early, you can bet that we’ll be dealing with a middle-of-the-night waking. If he falls asleep a little later, there will be a very early morning waking, in which case, he often does not fall back asleep. I’m talking 4 am sometimes.

You can probably guess what kind of intensity this brings about when the child you look after is mostly awake when you are. It means you have little time for yourself and little intervals for catching-up. Catching up for me means being on top of the meals and housework so we can homeschool successfully, and he can be ready for appointments on appointment days without major issues.

This is where the cycle began. Without really noticing, I stayed up later and later just so I could catch-up on my life. Sometimes, I’d head to bed just before a night-waking.

I was forced to recognize my limits and I started sleeping longer hours again. The night wakings are not gone, but my late-night squandering has been put to rest. I had to protect my body by listening to its warnings.

I eventually learned to be gentle with myself. I meditated, read, sipped tea and, most importantly, I went to bed early. It did me a world of good.

In reconnecting with myself, I learned about the power of rest. Ironically, I also found extra hours in my day.

Related article on this blog:

Finding Sleep in an Unpredictable Environment: Tips for Parents of Children with Special Needs


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