Thursday, 1 July 2010

Give Me Some Sleep

Sleeping in my pram
Originally uploaded by reuvenim
Last night I spent a couple of minutes of my time listening to Gary Numan's Are Friends Electric on my stereo. I have been fascinated by Numan's music ever since I was a little child: it started through simple childhood fascination with the fascinating vinyl album cover my brother owned and moved on, with time, to a fascination due to typical reminiscing of carefree times gone by. Times when I wasn't eternally tired; times when I was able to listen to the music I like on my stereo without having a toddler screaming at me that he doesn't want to listen to "this music"; times when I could listen to music of my choice whenever I felt like it, not only when my son was being dressed by his mother after his evening bath.
This Gary Numan incident reminded me of a question I was recently asked. A [childless] friend wanted me to rate how bad my tiredness is on a numerical scale. I can't do that; even though I can compare between personal historical eras of tiredness I have no objective frame of reference to reliably relate to nor experience varied enough to establish my own reference (the way I do when I review films). However, I can comfortably state the obvious and say that since I became a parent, my sleep is no longer the same and being tired has become my business as usual state.
Some of you may wonder why this is the case. After all, our son is way past the age where his routine involved waking up in the middle of the night; unless things go wrong and he's particularly sick, he would normally sleep for more than ten hours a night. So what is my excuse for being eternally tired?
The answer is simple and is best demonstrated through a look at my typical day. Most of my time awake during a generic day is spent on work: either commuting to and from work or work itself. After work I usually need to pick my son up from childcare; upon our arrival home it's usually time for some house chores and dinner. Our son's night is concluded with a bath (note: he doesn't bath himself) and watching an episode of his favorite TV program before heading to bed - usually at about 20:00.
There, in fact, is the crust of the problem: my own life, as an individual, starts at the time my son goes to bed. Even then it's limited: we have to give him some time to actually fall asleep, we can't do anything that would wake him up (like listening to music or watching films the way I would have liked to), and - obviously - we have to keep to our house as its resident babysitters.
With said toddler waking up at about 6:00 (sad but true), a balancing act game ensues: how much of a life do I want to have vs. how much sleep? I think of all the things I like doing, things that I used to have hours of my life each day to do them with, and the sad reality becomes obvious. Sleeping, reading, messing with my computers, watching movies and everything else I like doing - all have to compete for a slot of my limited night time piece of personal time.
The way things are my de facto solution to that balancing game is a routine involving some six hours of sleep. Six hours are not enough for a healthy human being, I know, but the temptations of the internet have proven too much for this sad worrier. Wait, things get worse: The morning wake up call does not come at my time of choice; it comes abruptly, when my son decides it's the right time to visit his parents' bed. On average that wakeup call comes at 6:00, but the standard deviation is high; sometimes I go to bed at midnight expecting to wake up at 6:00 only to hear the dreaded steps across the corridor at 4:50.
The outcome is undeniable: I am eternally tired. Yet in this struggle of priorities my choice thus far has been clear: I would rather have a life of my own, even as a restricted parent, than have a good night's sleep.


Wicked Little Critta said...

I don't blame you one bit.

Our friends who have 4 little ones I'm sure are in the same boat. Even though their waking time is whenever the kids decide, they'll still urge us to come over and hang out when we can, sometimes even too late for me, when my wake-up time is much more flexible!

I think we should all incorporate the siesta.

Moshe Reuveni said...

Siesta is what we do* during weekends. Pity we can't do it at the office, too.

*When circumstances allow.

Sarah said...

Right now Marcus has taken Olivia to his Mum's so I have 1 hr to myself with no kids. In theory I should have a nap as who know how many times I will be up with her tonight but the desire for my own life wins over the need to nap right now.

The other weekend I was thinking how the pregnant me used to think having kids wouldn't be that bad as we didn't have a big social life anyway what I failed to realise was it is the lack of freedom in all aspects of your life that is the kicker. Not just going out but choosing when you go to bed, get up, what you can sneakily eat so the kids don't see and want some, watching stuff, listening to stuff and even showering without someone demanding something. That is the full on stuff as it goes on and on. Hopefully it improves as they age as I can't live on this little sleep for too much longer and I miss my freedom.

Sarah said...

Is Dylan still having a day nap?

Moshe Reuveni said...

I'm flattered you choose to read my blog in your free time. Obviously your problem is double ours, but I fully agree: the relentless nature of parenthood, the fact you can never truly take a break from it, is the worst. Closely followed by the fact you're never truly in command: you rely on others to effectively tell you when you can go to bed and when you need to get up.
It's a bit like a Guantanamo Bay torture these kids are doing unto us: they disallow us to have our own personalities and make our own basic choices, the things we used to take for granted for the duration of our lives before without giving them any appreciation. In many respect, especially the sleep deprivation one, I cannot avoid comparing the experience of parenthood to my experience at the army boot camp (by far the worst month of my life): They're similar, especially in the sleep deprivation department, only that army openly declares that the purpose of its boot camp is to break your spirit so you'd do what they want you to do without having a say.

Anyway: Dylan is still having his day time sleeps. At the moment they're having too much of an effect on his night time sleep so I'm sure we'll have new circumstances on our hands soon, but as it is he's sleeping and sleeping well.

Sarah said...

Our day naps have gone but it has done good things for the night. When he still had one we had lots of mucking around until 9pm and the early wakings. Now he will be asleep by 7.30 and sleep until 6.30-7am. So we have our evenings back. The day can be quite long though but I have built in some quiet time in the afternoon where our friend the tv comes in handy. We are still getting night waking from him a few times a week but they can be dealt with quickly but it is hard when I have already been up a few times with little miss. She is another story. We just don't make good sleepers some boot camping will be in order once we all get better again.

Moshe Reuveni said...

We find we're using our friend the TB (the way Dylan calls it) much more than we should.
Which brings me to an interesting breakthrough in me saying enough is enough: For the duration of the World Cup, I watch football whenever I want to watch football (as long as that doesn't interrupt with Dylan's routine). He protests and he doesn't like it (especially given the length of a football match), but he's surviving.