It sat gathering dust in the kitchen for a couple of days - taunting me with it's glossy cover and promise of escapism each time I passed it - before one evening, kids in bed and MD busying himself with something manly in the garage I actually SAT DOWN WITH A GLASS OF WINE AND READ IT. Well, I read a few pages. Then the cat vomited in the utility room and the baby started crying. So that was that.
But in that time I did manage to read a very helpful article about sleep. Arianna Huffington, "wellbeing expert and business guru" is on a mission apparently - her new book (and "wellbeing campaign") is promoting sleep. Lots of it. And she has a number of steps to get us all to the point of being "sleep pros". Right. Let's have a little look, shall we?
- Make a ritual of bedtime. Lots of useful tips here, my favourite being to take a hot bath with Epsom Salts and a "candle flickering nearby". A hot bath? Before bed? With a candle??? EVERY FRIGGING NIGHT?? Hang on a second here. Even if such things as water meters didn't exist to make this an economic disaster zone, I'm not sure how a) I'd fit it in what with all the crap telly (sorry, I mean ironing) there is to occupy me or b) exactly what MD would say if I disappeared of an evening circa 8:30 to take a long bath with Epsom Salts (are these even still on the shelves of 21st century supermarkets?!).
- Meditate. Ok, if you say so. Does falling asleep in front of the TV with a half drunk glass of wine count?
- Banish tech from the bedroom. Ah... so it would appear that falling asleep in front of the TV is not a permissible element to this ritual. Must try harder to stay awake so I can do sleeping properly.
- Try visualisation. I actually do this, though instead of "stones dropping in to a lake" I'm more "piles of laundry engulfing me".
- Exercise. Nailed it - my two stone two year old (who has perfectly functioning legs) is currently refusing to walk up the stairs. Job's a good 'un.
- Cut caffeine, alcohol and sugar. And don't eat late at night. Utterly ridiculous in all senses. Firstly, you have just named three of my five a day that you want me to ditch. Secondly, Whilst I could eat fishfingers and peas at 4:45pm with a toddler, I'd much rather eat a grown up dinner, with grown up wine with my grown up husband when he gets in from work. Which I am afraid means eating late.
- Make a gratitude list - "make sure our blessings get the closing scene of the night". Always! "I am so very grateful to have survived another day with a toddler and a baby. so very grateful...."
- Breathe slowly and count your breaths. "Inhale quietly through the nose for four counts, hold for seven and exhale with a whooshing sound through the mouth for eight counts". A whooshing sound??! Now that right there is going to interfere considerably with all the TV we aren't allowed to watch in bed, surely?
- Consider your mortality. Surely this will make the above very difficult. I don't know about you, but when I start considering the inevitability of death, my breathing doesn't tend to slow...
- Have special nightwear. Oh I do, I do!! Currently sporting a nursing bra with holes in it and mismatched supermarket knickers. Now if that's not special, I don't know what is.
- After 20 minutes of struggling to sleep... This is rarely an issue tbh.
- If you can't get enough sleep at night nap during the day. I bet she's the type of person who tells new mothers to "sleep when the baby sleeps". Apparently, the best time to nap is when you feel yourself flagging. By all counts, I should be napping through toddler breakfast time.
So there you have it. Simple ways to get good at sleeping. If I may, I'd like to tweak it ever so slightly, by removing all the above points, and replacing them with send your children to boarding school as early as possible. I'm kidding, obviously. Far too expensive, and frankly we're broke after the water bill we got following all those baths.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to start my bedtime ritual. And no, there's nothing prepped for dinner - I've been napping all day.
*For the record, I count myself incredibly lucky that, despite having two small children, I do actually get an uninterrupted night's sleep most nights. Both are damn good sleepers - we have dropped VERY lucky with them. I would also like to confirm that Arianna's new campaign is not targeting parents specifically, but presumably neither the article, nor her "small steps" seek to exclude this rather large demographic.