After being out of routine for a couple of weeks during the holidays, our family has had a rough re-entry this January. Avery hasn’t been sleeping well, which means Darren and I aren’t sleeping well, which throws everything else off-kilter. Whenever I hear people cite research about the importance of sleep to good health and well-being, I want to punch them in the kidneys. I KNOW THIS. Tell it to my headstrong three-year-old, and while you’re at it, explain why it’s important that she eat her vegetables. (I’m serious. Maybe she’ll listen to you.)
Sometimes Darren and I can feel so depleted that we sink into despair. We don’t know how and when things will get better. On Saturday mornings, the weekend ahead can feel like a daunting slog with not much to look forward to.
Darren’s good about not tolerating situations like this, He’ll say, “This isn’t acceptable to me. What can we do to fix it?” It reminds me that we’re empowered to change our circumstances, even the ones without obvious solutions -- like strong-willed children who refuse to stay in their beds.
Here’s the process we use once we realize we’re unhappy with something:
1. Identify the problem.
Sometimes the problem isn’t as obvious as a child stealing your sleep. If your weekends are feeling blah, for example, do you need to shake yourself out of your routine? Schedule more outings, look ahead for upcoming events, or take a day trip to a new destination?
2. Center on the problem with the attitude that everything is figureoutable.
You’ll need to clear out some quiet, dedicated space to do this; Darren and I use our lunch break. Then you can start approaching the problem like a research scientist, experimenting with new variables every day. We're asking, “What’s waking Avery at night? Is she too hot or cold? What morning reward can we bribe her with for sleeping through?” (We’ve had to keep upping the ante...so far, candy + a stuffed animal isn’t sufficient. 😩)
3. Create moments of gratitude and joy to keep your spirits up.
Throughout the problem-solving process, keep up your morale by pausing to ask, “What’s NOT wrong? What am I grateful for right now?” When I’m stressed, I’ve been asking the Amazon Echo to play Kidz Bop and dancing it out in my kitchen. I feel better every time. Schedule something you can look forward to, whether it’s a get-together with friends, watching a show you love, or reading a great book before bed.
Whatever is on your mind right now, try these three steps, with the unflagging belief that you can crack this problem -- no matter how much trial and error it takes. And as always, I’ll be right there with you, reminding myself to take my own advice. ❤️