Love your lie-in
Remember those lazy Sundays in bed? Sleeping late, then cuddling under the covers with a good book and a cup of coffee. Oh the pleasure of a lie-in! When you’ve a new baby or young kids, those days may feel like things of legend. Lie-ins belong in some mythical land alongside unicorns and a full night’s sleep. Most young children are hard wired to wake up at dawn, no matter what time you put them to bed or how many times they get up at night. There’s not much you can do, once they’re awake, they’re awake, and then they need to be changed, fed and entertained. So bye-bye lazy lie-ins.
But are lie-ins that great anyway? Surely getting up early is healthy. After all, “early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” And look at all those joggers and yoga gurus, they’re always watching the sunrise and meditating along with the dawn chorus. Getting up early gives you a head start on the day and it means that you’re not chasing your tail in the afternoon. Those clear skinned, fit, shiny haired ‘got it all together mums’ are all getting up early. Aren’t they?
Well maybe not.
Recent studies have shown that having a lie-in at the weekend is actually pretty good for your health. It can help balance out sleep-depravation, so if you’ve been missing out on ZZZs during the week, a lie-in on a Saturday can help you to catch up. With work, a little one and a house to run, you’re more than likely running on empty, so a lie-in can help top up your sleep fuel tank.
You don’t even need to be asleep to get the benefits of a lie-in. Just relaxing with your eyes closed can act as meditation time, which can help rejuvenate your tired body and relieve stress. It even helps with problem solving, so a lie-in might be just what you need to sort out any problems that have been niggling at the back of your mind during the week.
Waking up naturally, rather than being roused by an alarm clock, a baby crying or “Mommy Mommy, Mommy!” is much better for your health, it ensures that you wake up when you are ready and your sleep cycles have been completed, and it means that you wake when your body has had adequate sleep time. Dragging yourself out of bed when you aren’t rested, in order to force an overtired body to exercise, can actually be detrimental to your health.
But you’re a parent, it doesn’t matter whether you really want or need a lie-in, you have a little person demanding your attention at 5am, so there’s not much you can do about it.
Well maybe there is. Many parents find that a weekend routine that includes lie-ins not only helps their health and well-being, it is also beneficial for their relationship. If you organise a fair schedule, with each partner getting a morning to stay in bed, you can avoid a build-up of irritation and anger from over tiredness, as well as those feelings of unfairness over who does more with the baby.
Knowing that there is rest on the horizon can help parents get over a tiredness hump without falling out over who got less sleep last night. The schedule could be as simple as Dad stays in bed on a Saturday and Mom stays in bed on a Sunday. Or if Sunday mornings are busy, then it could be a week on, week off rota. It doesn’t matter as long as those hours in bed are doled out fairly. There also needs to be rules laid out. If it’s Dad’s turn to get up, then he does so quietly and he takes his son/daughter into another room, where he changes, feds and entertains them. Visits to “check if Mommy’s awake” are not allowed and he can’t simply park himself in front of the telly while the child runs havoc. Similarly, Mommy can’t start hoovering outside the bedroom door on Daddy’s day in bed, nor should she make him feel guilty because she’s doing housework while he’s lazing around. Boundaries and expectations need to be agreed upon in advance so that everyone’s lie-in is treated fairly.
But what if your partner works on the weekend, or plays sport? Is there a way for a lone parent to get some much needed rest? There are ways to encourage your child to sleep a little longer without upsetting their routine. Heavy curtains that block the morning sun can help and leaving them for a minute when they first wake, might encourage them to go back to sleep. When they’re a little older an activity centre can keep them busy, so you can have a lie down, if not a full sleep. As they get bigger feel free to doze on the couch while they watch Peppa Pig or The Little Kingdom. If a lie-on in the morning is impossible because they’re too small, consider going back to bed while they nap. It might not have that lazy morning appeal, but at least you’ll catch up on some sleep.
However you manage to get one, a lie-in is a precious thing and should never be wasted, so roll over, pull the duvet up over your head and enjoy every minute while you can.