Are you exhausted? Can’t stay awake at the office? I got you mama. Get your short printable list of tips here or read on for helpful tips from yours truly.
If you read my most recent post about signs that you have gone from tired to a sleep deprived zombie, you are aware that I’m just a wee bit tired. I didn’t make that stuff up. It’s not uncommon for me to spend 3 or 4 hours of the night getting up with my son or laying on the floor in his room, because he cries every time I try to leave.
I’m sure there are many parenting experts out there who would tell me how wrong I’m doing things, but that’s not the moral of the story here – I’m okay with how I’m handling it, so let’s just leave it at that.
The harder part is actually keeping my bananas together throughout this whole sleepless ordeal – during the night, dealing with the kids during the day and functioning in my paid job. Let’s also clear up this whole thing while we are here about working mum v stay at home mum – I work part-time so I do a bit of both. My part-time job has a fair a bit of responsibility, so although I don’t work every day I definitely need to be able to make sound decisions and string coherent sentences together (both of which can be a struggle!). Here’s the thing – both are extraordinarily challenging.
On the days I’m at home, I can put a DVD on for the kids after lunch and lay on the couch, sometimes I can drift off, but more often than not the kids wake me up constantly anyway. I can also take the kids outside, get some sunlight and fresh air, which helps and also entertains the kids. Unfortunately, I’m like the hulk when I’m tired – I hate it. I flip my lid about everything and end up feeling guilty about being cranky. I also get overly emotional and its an unpleasant experience all round – for the kids as well as myself.
On the other hand when I’m at the office, there is no lunchtime lay down on the couch, I’ve just got to suck it up all day. If I tell my colleagues that I’ve had a bad night they generally express sympathy, they stay away from the poor tired woman in the corner, rather than constantly saying “mum, mum, mum” until I snap. Unfortunately, I have to answer some quite complex questions in the office – if my mouth can no longer say the word “infrastructure” or I doze off during a rather dull conversation about macerators, I think this is frowned on as a general rule.
So the short answer is having a kid who doesn’t sleep is crappy, regardless of whether you work outside the home or you are a stay at home mum.
Having gotten that out of the way, here are a few tips on ways to keep yourself going on the days you have drag your sorry, tired ass into the office:
- Tell someone at your work who gets it: I work with quite a few genuinely lovely and helpful people. If I tell them that I’m really tired and I’m not sure whether something I’ve written makes sense, they are always happy to read it for me.
- Sick day/late start: I actually think that sometimes you reach a point where a late start or a bit of sick leave is valid. If like me, you are so fatigued that you a dizzy and can’t string a sentence together, my workplace tends to not mind me coming in a little bit late, rather than turning up in a sleep deprived fog unable to string a coherent sentence together. Sometimes this isn’t an option and you can’t do it all the time, but sometimes a girl has to do what a girl has to do. I do it very rarely, so on the odd occasion that I have done it my colleagues understand that things are dire.
- Listen to podcasts: I am in a brief reprieve at work, which is a welcome change after a year of being in overload. Unfortunately, it means I need to catch up on the wonderful admin that I usually put off because I’m “too busy” – filing, archiving emails, that sort of joy. Hours and hours of filing. Listening to podcasts makes it almost enjoyable. Unfortunately (or fortunately) some of them make me laugh, so I might seem a little weird sitting at my desk laughing to myself all day (people can’t always see my earphones)
- Chamomile tea: I know, I know – it’s not coffee. I drink chamomile infused with honey so it’s nice and sweet but its got hardly any calories etc. It won’t solve your problems, but having something yummy to sip on at least brings a little bit of happy to my day.
- Go for a walk/get some fresh air: I go for a walk at lunch time. If you are having a meeting that doesn’t require looking at a computer screen or document (and it only involves a couple people) you might be able to do a walking meeting. I know my boss and I do this from time to time when we have been cooped up in the office too long.
- Drink coffee: I tend to drink coffee made with a coffee bag on these days. I start the morning with a nice strong cappuccino at home (you can read about how much I love my coffee machine here) , then at the office I use coffee bags because these aren’t as strong so I can slow drip it into myself over the course of the morning. I recommend leaving coffee alone after lunch time because the last thin you need is to have trouble sleeping at night!
- Put on some make up and fake it till you make it. Seriously. Often on the bad mornings that follow the bad nights I don’t have time to do my makeup before I leave the house, so I have a little makeup travel bag with some BB cream, mascara and lipstick that I can slap on when I get to the office. When I’m that tired, I don’t want to be reminded of how tired and crappy I look every time I go to the bathroom (which is a lot – because I’ve had 2 kids and I consume of lot of coffee and chamomile tea to keep myself awake!)
- Wear flat shoes. On the really bad days, my legs ache. I find that wearing flats or comfortable boots helps. Captain Destroyer’s current “You shall not sleep” phase has been going on for so long that I can’t remember the last time I actually wore heels to the office. So perhaps I’m now just using tiredness as an excuse to wear flats every day
- Take notes in meetings. The act of taking notes keeps me alert and awake. I take notes even if I don’t need to, just to help me focus – it also means I can refer to my notes later when I can’t remember what the meeting was about.
- The standing desk. We only have one in our office but if I find myself starting to doze off a bit I “have a go” at the standing desk – even for me it hard to fall asleep standing up
- Be kind to you. This is the most important one. You can’t possibly function at 100% when you are sleep deprived so just accept that today is not the day to try and save the world.
- Have a laugh. Find a friend who makes you laugh or listen to a funny podcast. Having a laugh improves you day, no matter how badly things are going.
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