We are moving in 17 days. And while our previous move was only 18 months ago, I seemed to have forgotten one of the side effects of moving: Insomnia. Of which a side effect is forgetfulness. It’s a vicious cycle.
When I was paralyzed by sleeplessness with our move from Philly to Boston, I sought medical intervention. I was given a prescription for Ambien…and then blogged about it here. And, to be honest, I wrote the PG version. Ambien had other side effects that I will not discuss
because my mother-in-law is reading this, but let’s just say Phil really misses the crazy slut alter ego that was Ambien Jessie. He misses her a lot.
But no matter how tired I am, I refuse to go the Ambien route. I can’t take the chance that I will answer an Evite with a 500 word run-on sentence that includes an in-depth analysis of a Scooby-Do episode and my social security number. Again.
That being said, I have to do something, because I am tired – to the point where I feel like I am losing brain cells. When I was 21, I went out on a date with a NYC transit cop, who was adorable but not my type. When I asked him to describe his typical work day, he said in a thick NY accent, “Basically, I just get dumbah. I get dumbah everyday.”
That’s me. Gettin’ dumbah everyday. The evidence:
- Emma’s 2nd grade math homework has become too challenging. (17-8=…..wait…wait…I got this….).
- When my mom calls and asks if I received the book she sent me, my response is: “No. Wait…maybe. That sounds familiar. Yes, I did.” The truth? No idea.
- Any thing that crosses my path goes in the washer and dryer, including cash, tissues, my iPod, and this wool sweater that is now keeping Phoebe’s American Girl Doll nice and toasty.
- While I have never been the most organized mom on the block, my current inability to retain basic info has forced me to rely on responsible (and nonjudgmental) friends. I’m the one in blue:
So when drugs are not an option, the only thing left is to examine one’s habits, which is annoying, because I have a lot of bad habits. But for the sake of this blog, let’s stick with two: Bedtime Ritual and Racing Thoughts.
Bedtime Ritual Every parenting book has a section on the importance for bedtime rituals for children: no screens, calming activities, limit sugar, keep the actual “time” consistent, etc. It dawned on me that while I am the Sleep Warden with my kids, I am a rebellious teen with my own sleep hygiene.
The biggest offender is late night computer use. The kids will be in bed, I will be cleaning up the kitchen and feeling exhausted. Ok good, I think to myself, I am on the right track. Just finish loading the dishwasher and then I’m getting in bed. But then….something happens. Suddenly there is a piece of information I simply must have before I can possibly go to sleep, some ridiculous, non-essential tidbit that will then open the Pandora’s Box of nonlinear Google searches.
For example: “How EXACTLY did Yolanda from Real Housewives of Beverly Hills get Lyme’s Disease” leads to…..
- Research on the 47 species of ticks in California
- Real estate listings in Malibu
- The distance from Malibu to Joshua Tree
- The inspiration behind the U2 album Joshua Tree
- Is Bono’s real name Bono? (it’s Paul).
When I am satisfied with my groundbreaking findings, I’m all revved up by the evil blue light of the computer and I start vacuuming. One night Emma had gotten up to go the bathroom, and came downstairs: “Mom? Do normal mothers vacuum at midnight?”
I gave her a look that said, what makes you think I know anything about normal? Then I took her back to bed. As I was leaving her room, I saw this book sitting on her dresser.
It’s a journal Emma and I write in together a few nights a week as part of her bedtime routine. I grabbed it before closing the door, and sat on the stairs reading our entries. This one hit me….
….which brings us to
Racing Thoughts Little kids resist bedtime because they are scared of: monsters under the bed, the dark, bad dreams. I resist bedtime because I am scared of: moving, leaving our friends, the ocean, this house that I love, of the kids adjusting to a new school, are they going to need therapy, should we buy them a dog, should we join the Y, I forgot to order Emma’s uniforms…blah blah blah.
So, if my issues are not all that different from a kid’s issues, why not treat it the same way? This week I created my own firmly enforced bedtime ritual:
- No computer after 8:30 PM
- In bed by 10 PM
- Read a novel. (No self-help)
- Create a mantra: It’s going to be ok. None of this is happening right now. It’s going to be ok.
- And the most important piece of changing one’s habits: Accountability.
That’s right. 14 days of good bedtime behavior and mama gets a new pair of jeans.
If none of this works, there’s always the Ambien my mother-in-law slipped in my hand during our last visit, you know, “just in case.”
Just in case I want to go streaking while riding a purple unicorn that smokes cigars.
Time will tell.
i LOVE this book. I’ve written about it and recommended it and given it to so many of my friends with daughters in the elementary school years. I’m sorry about the insomnia – have been there. Not fun. xoxox