Parenting with Insomnia: Acknowledging the Challenges
Last updated: September 2023
Parenting on any day is a massive challenge. There are daily battles and nightly ones. There are ones that you prepare for, the challenges you expect, and ones that you really do not see coming. Some things come out of nowhere. Sleep deprivation walks hand in hand with small children.
Some people develop insomnia as a result of having children. Momsomnia it is called. Some of us lucky moms - we go into motherhood with insomnia. Sometimes I think it is a slight advantage, as we already know what it is like to function without much sleep. However, where we really lose out, is when there is time to sleep, we can hardly get any. Also, as young babies get bigger most people will get more sleep. For us, however, that part never comes.
Staying a decent human being
We phase through from babies, to big children with minimal to no sleep, and this is how it continues for us. Learning to be a good parent and a decent human being while you are operating on very little sleep is truly one of my life's biggest challenges.
When I am tired and have gone through a really deep space of severe insomnia, I am honestly not a pleasure to be around. This severely affects my ability to parent, kindly and gently, which is how I choose to do things.
Knowledge is power
I have learned now that my child is bigger I can explain to her what insomnia is and how it affects my body. How it influences my moods, and how I experience it. She has, over the years, become more understanding. If I am miserable and I just make the effort to let her know, that I have not been sleeping well.
She goes to the most amazing effort to be understanding and help extra where she can. This has taken a long time, but I am grateful for the change. My daughter will now go as far as to offer to help with things she would not normally help with when I am in an insomnia spell. It has really has been so great for our relationship. She is only 9 and learning so quickly.
Teaching my child the importance of sleep, healthy sleep routines, and hygiene has been a great plus, as a mom with insomnia. She understands what sleep hygiene is and how it is important.
Even though I don't sleep well, I try and help her to get decent sleep and grow healthy sleep habits. These will hopefully be very helpful for her going forward. We cover everything from keeping the space clear, and calm, to sleep music, early bedtimes, and less screen time.
Acknowledging the challenges and your limitations
Playing with a child, in particular, a young one when you have been going through a severe bout of insomnia, I think can be equated to running a marathon that you have not trained for. Smaller children are less inclined to be able to understand and just want you to be ready and happy and amazing all the time. It is vital that you call in support from a loved one, a friend, or a partner. Allow them to do the heavy lifting, push the kids on the swings, and so on, so you can catch a breather.
What do you find to be the most challenging as a parent who lives with insomnia?
Do you experience painsomnia?