I have been freakishly productive of late, including having a bit of a manic Spring clean. This is most unusual. I’m not sure whether it is actually anything to do with Spring being in the air. I think it is more about the fact that, for the first time in about seven years, I am actually getting some precious sleep.
I am no longer like the living dead for most of my waking hours – as I have been for such a long time – and I have to admit it is quite a revelation. It is still early days in this sleep-filled period of bliss: we’re just a couple of months in really. And we still have bad spells, as you would expect with three small kids in the house. Disturbed nights are pretty regular and I am up in the night every couple of days, if only briefly: I had a monster-based nightmare to deal with last night with my middle one, which is pretty standard for a four year old. Oh, and throw an illness into the mix and it all goes to pot. But, on the whole, more sleep is being had. And it is bloody brilliant.
It is also rather interesting to become reacquainted with the non-sleep-deprived me. Only it isn’t quite the same as the well-slept me from before kids. Seven years is a long old time and all the experience of parenting three kids has changed me a good deal over those years. It isn’t just that it has been exhausting, it is also that having kids has fundamentally changed me in many ways. The best of these seems to be that I value time so much more now. I actually get things done when I have a brief moment in which I might achieve something. Now that really is a million miles away from the pre-kid me who had more free time on her hands than she knew what to do with.
In the last few weeks since sleep landed, when there is something that really needs to be done – like clearing out a festering cupboard – and I have a small toddler-free window in which to do it, I just bloody do it. I don’t procrastinate for a year because I’m too tired to summon up the energy. I’ve done more life admin than you could shake a stick at and cleared out almost all the cupboards in the house over the last few weeks, just because I am not so knackered that I can’t do anything but sit down when I get the chance.
I’m staggered by what me-with-sleep can achieve. I’ve managed to do some things that I’ve been talking about doing for literally years. I feel like a new woman, or at least a much more productive one.
However, much as I am shocked to hear myself saying this, there are downsides to finally catching up on sleep. I had forgotten just how bloody hard it is to get up after a full night’s sleep. I feel like I’ve been run over by a bus most mornings at the moment. Perhaps I am just catching up on seven years of sleeplessness and I will soon be over this stage but it is somewhat challenging on work mornings when we have to be up and out by 8am. I somehow find getting out of bed easier in the morning when I’ve been woken numerous times at night. It feels like second nature to be tired and vertical so I’m struggling to get my head around being well slept.
The other major change is a return to freaky dreams. I used to have incredible, crazy, warped and sometimes downright scary dreams before having kids. They were often so real I used to wake up thinking I really had been a flying dog chasing pigeons across the London skyline (a real and particularly memorable example).
If I’ve thought about the lack of dreams at all over the last few years, I think maybe I assumed they were just something young people had and I’d grown out of them. Not so, it seems. All I needed was more than three hours straight sleep and they’re back with gusto. Some nice, some nasty. Better stay off the cheese after dark.
But feeling like I’ve been flatterned at 7am or having a freaky-deekie dream are small prices to pay for finally catching up on some glorious sleep. It is incredible how much more painless a child-filled day can be when you are not exhausted. Yes, I am still shattered by 7pm, but who wouldn’t be after being run ragged by three small people all day? The rest of the day, I am not a zombie any more. And it is incredible.
I still can’t quite believe my luck and keep thinking this is just a fortuitous blip. But maybe, just maybe, this stretch of sleep is here to stay. It is a truly beautiful thing. Baby T, I honestly can’t thank you enough.