Having two toddlers, I can tell you one of the most challenging points in parenting is trying to deal with an overtired child who will not go to sleep.
A tired child cries over EVERYTHING, is bothered by ANYTHING and blows ALL THINGS out of proportion. There’s no logic or reasoning with a tired child, there is no resolve for a tired child and there is no peace for the poor soul who’s dealing with that tired child.
There have been times when dealing with a really out of control, tired toddler that I literally want to scream ‘Just go to sleep!!! Why are you fighting it?? Just lay your head down, close your eyes and take a nap!’
The struggle of an overtired child is SO real (along with SO frustrating and SO exhausting) and if you’re like me, it’s the last thing you want to deal with.
You might find this imagery comical but how many of you know that sometimes it’s much easier to point out (and even laugh at) the dysfunction in a tired toddler then it is to see the dysfunction in ourselves.
Over the past several weeks I’ve come to the sobering realization that I am that tired toddler. I am that kid who needs a nap! I am that child who’s crying over everything, bothered by anything and blowing it all out of proportion because my tired mind can’t process any issue effectively.
I am that tired toddler and here are some of the warning signs I’ve learned to identify.
Working for longer and longer periods of time without a break (or ‘nap time’) in between. This was my first warning sign. When the breaks in your days turn into breaks in your weeks and then into months, you have a problem. We can’t live for vacation. Vacation is great, but there should be regularly scheduled breaks along the way. If you find yourself living for the next vacation, it’s a good indication that you are falling out of a rhythmic routine that balances work and rest.
I’m very goal oriented but that can also manifest itself in the form of being a workaholic. There are times where I’m just going, going and going, without any signs of stopping and that’s just not good! Rest is good, rest is NECESSARY, rest is not for the weary or weak, rest is for the wise. When we rest before the work is done, that’s called laziness but resting AFTER you’ve put in work, that’s called wisdom. As productive adults, we must be aware of the difference.
Being bothered by essentially anything and everything. Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you’re absolutely irritated by anything and everything that is said, done or implied? Or better yet, you’re irritated by anything and everything that is NOT said, done or implied? Yeah, this is a sign of being overtired. You can’t think or reason well (or at all for that matter) so you just take things much further then they belong going, all the time! I’m not talking about the occasional, stress induced freak out. I’m talking about the days that are filled with more irritation than anything else. That is a problem.
Being resentful towards the things I once loved. My daughters love certain things. Savannah loves lip gloss and tutu’s, Rylee loves the drums and her blanket, they both love Mommy and Daddy, but when they are tired… FORGET IT… They despise the things they normally love. ‘Ry you want your blankie?’.. WAHHHHHHHHHH! (INSERT CRYING BABY HERE!) You might as well have offered her a thorn bush.
When you’re tired; you hate the things you love, you resent the things you once enjoyed and you find frustration in the thing you once felt passionate about. Being tired totally skews your perspective so badly, that it’s almost impossible to see how far off you really are. You think that everything and everyone around you is out to get you, but the reality is, it’s just you! Don’t assume everyone is out to destroy you when you’re simply witnessing the effects of your self-destructive behavior.
Being overtired is an equal opportunity offender. Did I mention EVERYTHING bothers you? When I’m tired, it’s never isolated to one or two areas of my life. It will manifest in my marriage, my parenting, my friendship, my job and dare I say it, even in my ministry! Being tired leaves you open for offense anywhere and everywhere you go. You’re constantly thinking people are against you, the world is conspiring to destroy you, your friends hate you, your family doesn’t support you.. Blah, blah, blah. While many of these things could be true, it’s unlikely they are in this scenario. It’s all in your tired mind. You’ve past the point of functioning and you’ve entered into the land of delusions where nothing makes sense but it all seems real and valid to you.
So now what? What do you do when you realize you are that overtired child? How do you fix it? What makes it better? Well, the answer is simple. Take a nap.
No, seriously! Take a nap, have a break, rest, relax, recharge!!
For me personally, it’s usually a trifold ‘break’ that I require to get back on track.
1.) My soul needs a break, possibly even a detox and definitely some TLC. Whatever’s happening on the outside is a manifestation of what’s going on on the inside. If you’re feeling tired in your body, your soul is probably exhausted. Stop. Take a break. Read a book or a devotional, listen to a preaching or maybe just play some worship music but whatever you do, make sure it’s something that will feed your soul and not drain it. This isn’t a time where you stop and binge on Netflix, this is a time to feed your soul with something sustainable.
2.) I need a mental purge. Clear your mind & l let it go. Whatever it is, it has to go. Carrying excess mental baggage is enough to weigh anyone down. Take a few minutes to empty your brain of all the extra nonsense you’ve been carrying.
- The way they looked at you.
- The dishes that weren’t done.
- The laundry that isn’t folded.
- The report that wasn’t finished.
- The apology you never received.
- The friendship that ended.
The list could go on and on, but you get my point. Let it go. Just do it. Carrying it around doesn’t change anything, it just drains you of all the mental and emotional strength you need to function as a decent human!
3.) My body needs a break. If you’re like me, my ‘resting place’ is not a familiar place, it’s not a peaceful place and it’s not a comfortable place. Why? Because I rarely go there. This past weekend it took me nearly 45 minutes to take a nap. I just couldn’t do it. My mind was thinking of all the things I could be doing, my body was feeling weird, I wanted to get up and GO! But I knew I couldn’t. On my journey to total balance and well-being, I knew I needed to stay in this restful place, even if it felt uncomfortable in the moment. Your body needs rest, it craves rest and it should get to a place where it welcomes rest.
Being tired is exhausting (DUH) but dealing with tired, is even worse. Your spouse, your friends, your family, they need you to be well rested because whether or not they are willing to tell you, they are exhausted by dealing with you in this state. I’m thankful that my husband will tell me when things are getting out of hand, kindly and lovingly he’ll point me in the right direction and help me get back on track. I love this! But I’ve also realized, now matter what he say, if I don’t actually do something about doing nothing, I won’t see change.
Are you tired? Drained? Desperate for a break and becoming difficult to deal with? Well, you know what to do. Stop, rest, relax.
You know what the best part of my nap was this weekend was? Waking up and realizing the world didn’t end in the process of me napping. Life goes on, but it goes on better when you’re rested enough to enjoy it!
I hope you take some time this week to nap, rest, relax and enjoy life just a little more.