On Being a Mother of Two, at 4am

Before I had kids I literally had an infinite amount of time. Nothing, but nothing took too long because there was this huge abyss of empty time stretching before be, just waiting to be filled. If I chose to sleep 50% more than strictly needed? Fine… It’s not like I had anything else to do.

That’s the thing I am finding hardest at the moment. My time is not my own anymore. It takes me days and days to complete the simplest of tasks and emails that I would otherwise sat down and cracked ought in an hour of my infinite time get relegated to the bottom of the to-do list, which might mean in a week, a month, I dunno. I don’t reply to people for ages and the only reason I keep on top of my blogging is because I draft my posts in the middle of the night on my phone (like now, at the hugely unsociable hour of 4am).

There’s that saying, live every day like it was your last, or something. I really want to do this more, to make more of each day, but it’s so bloody hard when you’re so tired you feel like you’re wading through treacle. My eyes ache, my head is stuffy, nothing quite makes sense. I went 48 hours without showering last week because I was so tired, it was actually too much of an effort to stand under running water. I’ve spent the last 2 days frantically cleaning the house because if I stand still for longer than a minute I will fall asleep.

I’ve tried coffee and it works for a little bit of tiredness, but if I’m well and truly knackered then it just makes me feel jittery, wired yet weird. But still knackered. I try to sleep when the babies sleep, but then when does all the other stuff get done? Like eating, housework, WORK, emails, paying bills…

I wish I was Michelle Obama. She always seems so put-together, motivated and happy. I bet she never took her daughter to her grannies house in her slippers, or got to 3pm in the afternoon and realised she hadn’t brushed her teeth.

Parenting-wise this week has been the most difficult since Hux’s arrival. Elfie’s been getting up increasingly earlier (3.45am…), Hux can no longer be sent to sleep just by wafting him in the region of a boob and I’m putting more and more pressure on myself to start generating an income again. I love work, I miss work, and I enjoy not having the pressure of tight budgeting. How do I juggle these two little people who have such opposing sleep schedules at the moment?

I keep trying to repeat to myself things like “tomorrow is another day…” and “this too shall pass…”. It doesn’t really help.

34 Comments
  1. I can feel your exhaustion through my screen. I have no magical advice to give, all I can say is that you seem to do an amazing job and you maintain a sense of humour which I think is the only way to get through sleep deprivation. I’m expecting number 2 in Jan, number 1 will be 25 months by then. I’ll be going back to work when the little one is about 7 months. I literally have NO idea how I’m going to cope with the sleeplessness! It’s not so bad with one – you can sleep when they do, but I’m guessing it’s not quite the same when you have 2! The only way I can (psychologically) get through the lack of sleep is to keep reminding myself that its temporary. It will pass. Sending E lots of sleepy thoughts ;) Hope you get a longer lay in tomorrow! xx

    1. The sleep thing is definitely the worst! I think some are able to cope with it better than others – my husband deals with it pretty well but I am hideous on less than 7 hours (and still not great on less than 9!). Thank you for your lovely comment x

  2. Oh, Alice. I’m totally with you on this. When Max was first born, I thought ‘2 kids? pah! Easy’, and it was mostly for 6 weeks. Then it was hell for about a year (sorry) for exactly this reason. There is always someone needing you and you’re pulled every which way until something breaks (and it did frequently).

    I bit the bullet, put the kids in nursery and went back to work when Max was 5 months old. Only 2 days a week but it gave me time to do my own thing, eat lunch in peace and I also did the house admin (bills etc) in my lunch breaks.

    I appreciate this isn’t the answer for everyone but it gave me some breathing space when I felt like I was suffocating under a pile of nappies (oh, the nappies. 2 kids in nappies isn’t a bag of laughs, is it?) and made me appreciate my time with them more. I missed them like crazy when I was at work and I felt more able to cope after some time out.

    And I know this is the most annoying thing in the world to say and I frequently wanted to punch people in the face when they said it to me but it DOES get easier. You’re in the thick of the hardest part right now and it can only get better.

    In the meantime, give yourself a break. You’re doing amazingly well and as I keep reminding myself, they go through phases of waking/sleeping/not eating/being cheeky (i could go on…)and it’s more often than not just a case of waiting it out until it passes.

    In the meantime, lots of early nights and caffeine will get you through xx

    1. Sometimes Will comes home from work and asks how our day has been and it truly, literally, feels like I have spent the whole time wiping bottoms. BLOODY POOEY BOTTOMS. Hux poos up to 4 x a day and sometimes Elfie poos 2 x… that’s 6 poos a day. You’ve got to laugh at that, or you’ll cry!!

      My Mother-in-Law once had 4 kids under 5 and says she spent a whole year in her pyjamas. Imagine all those nappies!

      Thanks for your lovely comment Lydia xx

  3. Alice, this is not normal, even for a mum with two little ones. Do you to the GP and ask for your iron and thyroid to be checked.

    Oh and it does get better and easier, but you don’t want to hear that now!

    1. I’ve booked an appointment for Thursday! It could possibly be an issue with iron as I’ve been anaemic plenty of times, so we shall see what they say.

      I’m glad you say it gets better and easier – it’s great to hear that from others who’ve been through it!x

  4. This is the one thing that scares me about having two. I can’t cope with too little sleep and I have been lucky that mads has always been a good sleeper- whether this will remain the case when we have another one will be interesting to see.

    It’s hard work with one, let alone with two so you need to give yourself a pat on the back and remember that you are doing a bloody brilliant job. You can tell how much you love your children and they love you- the emails and the house work can wait, your health and your sleep is more important.

    I always think that yes the next couple of years will be hard but it’s better to have a closer age gap, my mum had 10 years between me and my sister and now I flew the nest 10 years ago whereas my sister is still at home getting under her feet. You may gain a couple of grey hairs along the way but just think when they are like 6 and 5 and can play together and entertain each other. Brilliant!

    In all seriousness though Alice I can imagine how hard it is, but sometimes its better to hold up your hands and admit you need a bit of help. Can grandparents/nursery/childminders have Elfie or hux for a day so you could start up your freelance work again? That could bring in a bit of money to help with the budgeting and at the same time give you some well needed me time. I know that work for me at the moment is like a holiday!

    Thinking of you and I am suffering from pregnancy insomnia at the moment so if your ever despairing at 4 in the morning, just tweet me and I will tell you a really unfunny joke or something.

    Sorry for the essay, I am in the bath! X

    1. I’m sorry Katie: I don’t want to scare you! I can honestly say that up until last week I was getting along pretty swimmingly, and it’s only recently that it’s become a bit harder. I think most of it is me putting pressure on myself x

  5. Alice! I felt exactly like this last week and wrote a fairly similar post on Friday, when I reached the end of my rope. Just felt like I hadn’t achieved anything much over and above childcare. Lila not sleeping in the day also didn’t help and I was sick and tired of living in an absolute hell hole.
    Two is tough. Fact. Amazing too, but there’s just always something to do for one of them ALL DAY. And never any time to do things you don’t want to do (cleaning), let along things you do (blogging).
    As for how tired you are, having broken sleep for months on end does take its toll. Lila didn’t sleep through till 8/9 months, which was a killer. Maybe have a look at your diet though – might be worth going to see a naturopath as they will be able to give you some advice on things you can do to give yourself an energy boost that don’t involve caffeine and sugar!

    Hope you have a better week,
    Ax

    1. See? If I’d had more sleep I would have seen your blog post! As it is, it’ll be lost in my sea of 999+ unread posts on Google Reader!! ;) xx

  6. My first son drove us both to the brink of insanity with his sleeplessness. At the last moment we moved my mother in with us and she’d be up with him at night and nap during the day when it was my turn. I didn’t have another one until almost 4 years later :) He was a bit better when it came to sleeping and I napped a lot when oldest was in nursery.

    But ugghhh… little kids are hard work. I finally started to feel like me again sometime after the baby’s 3rd birthday.

    Advice? I don’t know… We now permanently live with my mother :), I just couldn’t do it without her! (my hubs is a lawyer in the city, you can imagine how much he’s around!)

    Drop the kids off at grandparents on saturdays if you can and just sleep!

    1. eek… I don’t know if I could cope with my mother full time! I am trying to get over myself and accept help a bit more often though x

  7. Alice, please don’t think I am being harsh, I am merely about to relay to you what my mother said to me when I moaned at her about this exact same thing the other week:

    This *is* your job at the moment. You’re these two little people’s life and this is your time with them, and this is time you’ll never get back. And when your two little people are older and in school you will yearn to have this time back. TRUST ME ON THIS.

    My mum is right. I miss my days with Roo now she’s in school, and as much as Elliot does my head in with his frequent attempts to scoop my boobs out of my bra in public, and how it irks me that he sleeps with us every single night, on my pillow, and I get no room, and wake up with a crick in my neck, I know when his snuggly little toddler body isn’t tucked up next to me anymore, I’ll want him there so much.

    So, as much as the budgeting sucks (and I think we both know exactly how much it does) relieve yourself of that pressure even just a little bit, put some ads in your blog or something maybe? Eat when they eat (hell, eat the same stuff, its easier), don’t worry about the housework and if you possibly can, get someone you trust with Elfie’s condition over for an afternoon to play with the kids whilst you take yourself off to bed, minus your phone and sleep (NO blogging).

    I bet Michele Obama has had days like the ones you’re having. She’s had tiny kids too. Also, speaking from my own experience, it’s often the people who seem together who are secretly falling apart at the seams.

    MUCH love xx

  8. ^^^ Agree with lots of the comments above – I always feel like I should be / want to be doing more, I hate the fact that half the time my mind is on all the other stuff I should / want to be doing too and I totally share your frustrations at having no time. Do go easy on yourself though, Hux is tiny, it won’t be like this for long. Try writing a list of all the things you’ve done in the last few days rather than all the things you want to do – you might be surprised? I just went back and found a post I wrote when Henry was a month old and I was struggling… have linked directly to it from my name above…

    1. This is a really good idea! I’m never patting myself on the back for the things I have done but am always writing ‘to-do’ lists! x

  9. Hey Alice, I may be way off the mark here but your state of mind sounds like mine did when I had my son, my mum and other half made me go to docs and I was actually diagnosed with PND. All I thought was that I was tired, all I’m suggesting is tell the doc everything, mine were not symptoms I imagine for PND, I didn’t want to leave my son, didn’t want to hurt myself or anything but it affects different people differently. Stress is a bizarre thing and I hope you keep your chin up xx

  10. I feel your pain. Actually I don’t, yours must be worst than mine because you have TWO babies and for that you are wonderwoman. I was exhausted with Amelie until she turned 5 months and slept and ate better. Sleep deprivation makes you feel bloody awful and vulnerable and emotional and it’s totally the time to tell yourself how fabulous you are. It WILL get better xx

  11. Urgh sleep deprivation… I only have one and do still feel knackered but it’s nothing compared to the first few months of his life. I can’t remember what I did to get through it although I walked a lot too – knew if I sat down I would feel more tired. Not the most helpful thing to say right now but tomorrow really is another day and it will pass… you are doing a brilliant job lovely xx

  12. If I would ever have sleep deprivation, my mood and energy for the whole day are completely off, that’s something that most of us really hate because it’s hard to get back to normal.

    I know it’s given to take care of them like mother’s or parents should but, I’m amazed with all that you do for your kids.

    Try to overcome your tiredness by getting some exercise, 10-15 minutes would be enough. It’ll help you sleep at night or have that power nap.

    Take some energy foods too!

    And if you are feeling tired and as though you’re at the bottom of the heap, just remind yourself that this isn’t going to last forever. Give your baby a cuddle, tell them you love them and remember how much they’re worth it. Stay positive.

  13. I cannot imagine how tired you must be! I am exhausted with just one child!

    Dumb question – Can you just make Elfie just stay in her crib/room until 6 or 7? Meaning tell her ahead of time that she has to stay put till Mommy or Daddy come and get her? My girlfriend did this with her super early riser and it worked after a few days.

  14. Just catching up on blogs, sorry i’ve not seen this.

    Alice you are an amazing mummy and do a fantastic job. The housework and emails can wait! Put yourself first. I know how hard it is (which is why my blog is cack) but sleep and you come first!

    This is why N has started pre-school – I needed a break before no3 arrives.

    Your fantastic just remember that :)

  15. I can definitely identify with this and all the comments too! S has been waking up much more in the night since he started teething and becoming more active. I’m knackered. And at the same time, I want to do more and more. I tend to draft blog posts on my phone while on the bus to and from town! I have to keep in mind that this is a really important season of my life, as Steph says above. Saying that, I just stayed with my in-laws for the week as Luke has been working a load of overtime, and it was amazing to have two extra pairs of hands helping me out.

    1. PS. I really admire your blog and how brilliant it is… I can just about string some words together about lipstick or hairdos on my phone but no-where near the intelligent discussions you write about. I love it x

  16. You are a completely star Mummy! Don’t put pressure on yourself if you can help it. If you wanna be with the kids more, enjoy the time with them and don’t worry about work. Or – if the kids are driving you a little insane perhaps get some PT childcare organised and enjoy working again(but use some of that time to sleep!). The work will be there soon enough but the kids won’t be little for much longer and you only get one chance to be there for it. PT hrs can be a lovely mix though. I’m just not sure about Elfie getting up so early. That doesn’t sound healthy for you at all, especially with the demands Hux must put on you. Can you lay with her until she drops off again? Keep her up MUCH later so she sleeps the other end? Perhaps I shouldn’t make stupid suggestions – I didn’t have it quite so bad with mine but that’s what I did to keep them in bed. I hope you come up with a solution for that soon and then you can feel a little stronger. Your PMA and delight in your children is evident for all to see. Whatever you decide will be right for you! x

  17. My dear lovely blog friend,
    Just trying to catch up – have been very bad at reading blogs lately. You know how it is… You are being very hard on yourself here. Remember, everything is just a phase and in a little while, you won’t even be able to remember the nitty gritty details of it. Can’t work wait a few more weeks? There’s no point in taking on more just to get more frustrated, because you are just too knackered to get it done in a way that’s satisfactory for you. I have just halved the amount of posts I am doing weekly for babycentre (there go my new shoes…), because I had to admit that it was just too much. It’s OK. There will be a time when both of them sleep through (yes, I do believe!!) and when I will be able to work more again.
    Looking after a baby AND a toddler is bloody hard work. You are doing great!
    Hugs Dxx

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