I do chuckle looking back at my pre-child self, I had no idea how the sleep deprivation was going to hit me. Before becoming a parent, I used to say to my business friends with kids, “Can’t you just do your business mindset in the middle of the night to make the best use of your time”? or “Why don’t you just work every night when the kids are in bed?”. Now I know why they laughed at me!
Our little Sleep Thief Oliver greeted us 5 weeks earlier than expected, and although a healthy premature baby, he had his hurdles to overcome. Even when he turned 9 months, he was still up at least 4 times a night and we were lucky if he napped for 30 minutes a day. So you can imagine, the sort of sleepless state I was in; exhausted, frustrated and low are words that spring to mind.
How things changed
However, after nine months of severe sleep deprivation, I was at breaking point and close to a M.E. relapse and this is where it all changed for us. We decided we needed professional help, so we hired a Sleep Consultant and the rest you can say is history. Within just 2 weeks, Oliver was sleeping through the night and sleeping for 2-3 hours a day.
The improvement in his sleep was so life changing for us as a family, I knew I wanted to help other families going through similar stressful situations. So off to London I went to retrain in Advanced Sleep Consultancy and now I help sleep-deprived parents to help their children of all ages to enjoy better sleep.
I’ve put together these five simple survival steps for you, so that you can maximise your business productivity whilst being sleep deprived
Naturally as a business mum you are ambitious, driven and motivated. These qualities have so many positives for your business yet the reality is suddenly you are running yourself into the ground squeezing work in whenever you can.
If you are not in the position to take time off once you have had your baby or have an older child, the best thing you can do for your business right now is set yourself realistic expectations and boundaries.
Go back to school days, set yourself a timetable and make rest and sleep time your first priority over worktime where possible. This may seem counterproductive to start with but it is amazing the amount you can get done in a small amount of time when you have had some rest in comparison to having extra time and working with a fuzzy head and tired eyes.
Observe your negative chatter
Most of my clients have said that before reaching out for professional help, their mornings consisted of dreading the day ahead, drinking as much coffee as possible, and feeling exhausted before the working day had even started.
Often the sleepless negativity mindset affects key areas of your life, such as your relationships, overall well-being and business productivity. For this reason, I recommend that all my clients practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the practice of being mindful and aware in the moment, observing your thoughts whilst not passing judgement on them. Being mindful allows you to develop resilience towards the sleep deprived negative mind chat.
The easiest way my clients have found to practice mindfulness is through the app Headspace, the app is free and allows you to use “Take 10” – 10 days of mindfulness. However I highly recommend you subscribe as you can access packs relating to sleep and I love the one specifically for children.
Who can help?
As an ambitious and motivated business mum, it is very easy to believe you can take on the world, however I have come to learn that being realistic with your time not only saves you stress but also helps you to focus on high income generated tasks.
It is easy to feel like you are failing when you ask for help, but just remember your top priority right now is looking after yourself so you can keep spinning the plates of super mum and business woman. Everything else has to come lower down the list.
Take a look at your endless to-do list, what is there on it you can delegate to someone else? Whether this be a loved one, family member, a friend or hired help. Examples of delegation which my clients find useful are laundry, ironing, housework, child care, cooking, gardening and walking the dog.
My husband and I hired a cleaner for just 1 hour a week when Oliver was not sleeping. This extra time allowed me to rest if I needed it or to use the time wisely (if Oliver was taking one of his rare 20 minute naps) to earn more than what we were paying the cleaner so that it was financially beneficial.
Bedtime routine isn’t just for children
I recommend that you also follow a bedtime routine every evening. This ensures that you get to bed on time in preparation for a broken night’s sleep and also gives your body and mind time to wind down from the busy life of parenting.
Set yourself a regular bedtime and enjoy a 30-45 minute routine where you do some gentle exercise such as yoga, pilates or stretching, read a book that is not business related or stimulating, start a “What’s been awesome today” book where you write everything positive that has happened and enjoy a warm bath. It doesn’t matter if this is segmented if your child wakes early evening, the idea here is to swap watching T.V. or scrolling social media to a routine which allows you to take yourself to the mind gym.
Invest to transform your life
I guess it is difficult for me to write about this tip without seeming biased, but investing in a professional sleep consultant completely transformed our lives. I’ve gone from being an exhausted, helpless, sleepless business mum who was trying to squeeze in work wherever I could to now being full of energy, positivity and having an extra 2 hours a day for business work. Which is magic when you are running a business around being a full time parent of under twos. However, more importantly my health is back on track and without that I wouldn’t have a viable business to run.