Build Your Family on a Solid Foundation – A Word on Sleep

What’s the picture you have in your head when you hear someone talk about a photographer? Mine is fairly skewed at this point because I follow so many other photographers but I do remember what I used to think of. If you are like me and 9 out of 10 other people, you picture a photographer editing into the wee hours of the night. She’s holding coffee in one hand and clicking away with the other. It has almost become expected of photographers. If you aren’t working late into the night, waking up the next day to shoot again, you aren’t working hard enough. Social media has added to this picture. But, here’s the thing, busy does not mean productive. Period. You don’t have to be a photographer with social media pressures to be working late at night….or into the ground. It’s all around us. We are told: don’t forget to go to the PTA meeting, make sure to sign up for 4 extra-curricular activities to get into the college you want, keep your house spotless, spend more time with your family, take time for yourself,  read, comment on every social media post so that they know you love them, make it to every one of your kids’ games and events, take time for friends, donate, volunteer, manicure your yard, cook healthy meals, don’t’ you want to sell health care products in your spare time?”…..THAT’S ENOUGH!!!!!

The purpose of this article is to talk about how important sleep is. Yep! I’m a photographer talking about sleep. I have always had a fascination with sleep. In college, I wrote a paper titled, “The Effect of Superwoman Syndrome on Healthy Sleep Habits”. It was all about mothers trying to do too much and not sleeping enough. I wasn’t even a mom or wife at that point! Then, after having kids I became super strict about my kids getting enough sleep, napping at home in their beds, learning to fall asleep on their own, developing positive sleep associations, etc. As a psychotherapist, I counseled countless clients with sleep concerns and issues.

Personally, I’ve always thought that sleep habits were some of the most important habits we can develop. I believe it is even more important than eating healthy and exercise. Don’t get me wrong, eating healthy and exercise are also VERY important but I think that it’s extremely difficult to do those thigs without healthy sleep habits first.

Sleep is what I consider my foundational behavior. The one behavior that everything else builds from….including my ability to make beautiful photos. With a solid foundation of healthy sleep habits, I am able to cultivate other healthy habits and skills on top of it. When I am going through a phase without healthy sleep (pregnancy, raising small children, and wedding season are culprits in my world) the foundation is cracked or broken and nothing else will stand. The whole structure crumbles to the ground.

When I am tired…

I am less likely to make it to the gym in the morning,

I crave sugar,

I have less will-power to deal with cranky kids (will-power is a finite resource),

I am more likely to have a second glass of wine,

I am not as willing to compromise with Marc.

When I am tired and things don’t go my way I think, “Why me?”

When I am tired, I waste my daytime hours.

 

On the flip side, when I feel well rested…

I am happy to see my kids in the morning

I push myself at the gym

I am more creative,

I eat healthier,

I find it easier to see the beauty in the world,

I appreciate everything Marc does for me,

When something doesn’t go my way I am more willing to think, “What can I do to change this next time.”

I FEEL HAPPIER

Falling asleep is a skill that not all of us were taught properly as children. It’s hard! There are things to do and people to take care of. “How can I possibly get 8 hours of sleep per night? There isn’t enough time!” We all have 168 hours per week to fill. It really is possible. If I have learned one thing this past year being busier than I have EVER been in my ENTIRE 37 years, it is that if it is a priority to you, you WILL carve out time in your 168 hours to do it. If it is not, you won’t. It’s that simple. So, the next time you think you don’t have time for something, change your wording from “I don’t have time” to “this isn’t a priority for me right now” and see how that changes your perspective. This past month, after month, after month of sleep deprivation after having Rita, entering wedding season and raising a “non-napper/sleeper-fighter” toddler wondering if I will ever sleep again, I finally decided to make sleep a priority again. I started a few days ago and have made a promise to myself to BE in bed BY 10:00pm every night for 60 days straight to get back on track where my sleep needs to be. I have found that all of my other goals keep slipping and after lots of tracking and analysis, I’m pretty certain it’s because of my lack of sleep. I’m not allowing myself to step on the scale until I have completed the 60 days….and GO! P.S. 60 days is how long it takes to make something part of your routine.

Next wedding season is going to be my real test. Will I be able to maintain when it gets hard? So next, I need to identify the “hard” days and come up with a plan for how I am going to let go and get to bed instead of obsessing – because you all know how much I LOVE the PHOTOS! Help me with this! I’m open to suggestions. How do you make yourself go to bed when you know you COULD get more work done by staying up a little later?

Can YOU relate? How does sleep effect you? Leave a comment so I know I’m not alone out there….so others know they aren’t either.

 

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wedding and portrait photography

Lancasater, Pennsylvania