Millennial Sleep Diary: The 33-Year-Old Mom of Three Managing Multiple Sleep Schedules

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Millennial Essay 2 by a full time mom in Omaha

Along with our survey on millennials and their unique sleeping habits and challenges, reporter Jamie Smith spoke to three millennials about their typical schedules and strategies. Here, Kassie Hanson, 33, from Omaha, Nebraska, a busy mom of three who has to manage a whole household full of different sleep needs (not to mention her own!), tells us how she gets it all done. Read our essay from a 40-year-old millennial lawyer from Chicago here, and another with a 32-year-old Brooklyn influencer, for more insights. And make sure to check out our millennial-specific sleep tips!

As a busy mom of three young girls, with a fourth baby on the way, my days are often chaotic. Most days I stay home with my children, but one day a week I work as a speech-language pathologist for local school districts. I also run a business called Talk 2 Me Mama where I share parenting tips using my expertise as a communication specialist.  

I don’t get to sleep as much as I would like. My girls are 5, 3, and 2, and they still wake up during the night. My two-year-old wakes me up the most, but with a baby on the way I know that soon I won’t be able to get a good night’s sleep for a long time. 

Every time I have a newborn at home my sleep is deeply impacted. All three of my kids had their nights and days mixed up for at least the first two or three months of life. My husband and I take three-hour shifts throughout the night whenever we bring a new baby home so that we can each get a little sleep. However, even with this system the first few months with a newborn are always rough and leave me feeling like a zombie. I’m not looking forward to going through that again in a few weeks. The first night one of my babies sleeps through the night I feel like a new person. I feel human again. As my kids get older and can sleep through the night, I get to sleep through the night too. My baby hasn’t even been born yet, but I’m already looking forward to that first night they sleep until sunrise. 

I used to sleep in, but now I wake up much earlier than I used to. My kids are early risers and like to wake me up by coming into my bed in the morning. They always wake up before 6:00 am. To try to get a little more sleep I have a rule where they can’t come into my room before 5:45 am. If they try to come in earlier, my husband or I bring them back to their own room. Once in a while, I wake up before my kids come into my room in the morning, and I enjoy the unexpected quiet time I get to myself. 

Even if my kids spend the night with their grandparents, I still can’t sleep in. I wake up at 6:00 even if they aren’t home. My body has a new rhythm since having children. Sleeping in doesn’t even feel like something my body knows how to do anymore. The older my kids get the better they sleep, but I think I will always wake up early. That seems to come with age, too. 

Because I know I need to get up early with my girls I try to go to sleep between 9:00 and 10:30 pm. I try to get eight hours of sleep, but that varies quite a bit and it doesn’t always happen. Some nights I only get six hours and it’s not enough. Sometimes I go to bed earlier because I’m exhausted.

If there are no interruptions, I can sleep through the night, but my sleep is often interrupted by one of my kids. One of my children often needs water in the middle of the night, or they need to be comforted because they are sick, scared, or sad. Sometimes they wake me up because they had an accident or they are confused about what time it is and think it is morning. My two-year-old seems to wake up during the night for no reason at all. She often puts herself back to sleep, but not always. I use white noise, dark rooms, and lovies to help them sleep through the night, but it doesn’t always work. 

Even a small interruption keeps me up for a long time, long after the child who woke me up has gone back to sleep. My mind starts whirring and I think about the next day’s tasks. A to-do list that is constantly running through my brain, and I can’t shut if off at night. There are so many things I need to do and something as simple as thinking about what I need to add to my grocery list can take over my thoughts at 2:00 am. In the middle of the night, I will remember that we are out of yogurt, that I need to sign the kids up for summer camp, or that I have to return a call to our doctor. There is always something to be done. 

If I can’t stop thinking about something, I will put a note in my phone and that usually helps me get it off my mind. Otherwise, I try to relax and get back to sleep by counting my breaths or saying “in” and “out” in my head with each breath. Sometimes the monotony of concentrating on my breathing lulls me back to sleep. 

If I haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep I am more irritable the next day, especially if I haven’t slept well several nights in a row. I usually feel very tired two or three times a week, and more often now that I’m pregnant. I’m quicker to get frustrated and I’m less patient with my kids. I am also less engaging and get a little lazy with my parenting on days I haven’t had enough sleep. If I need to work the day after I haven’t slept well, I get more and more tired as the day goes on. The less sleep I’ve had, the harder it is to focus.  

My girls take a nap or have quiet time or take a nap every day. If I’m really tired, I will take a nap as well. A shower also helps me feel awake and alert. Otherwise, I try to give myself extra grace and do less than on days I’m feeling awake and alert.

I used to worry about money a lot, and it kept me up at night. Now my husband and I have a good system in place for how we use money and it works most of the time. I am very blessed to be debt-free, but every so often an unexpected expense pops up that worries me and makes it hard to sleep. I had a harder sleeping when we unexpectedly had to replace our whole HVAC system and when a birth complication resulted in higher than expected medical bills. 

With a fourth child on the way, my husband and I would like to build a bigger house. That would stretch our budget, and sometimes I stay up worrying about whether we should scale back our dream house or commit to a tighter budget to be able to afford the home we really want. I also worry about whether I should work more, not just to earn more money, but because I want to show my daughters that women play a meaningful role in the workplace. 

Because my girls wake up so early my husband and I have solid bedtime routines for the the kids. They go to sleep at the same time almost every night, at 7:00 pm. Once the girls are asleep, I clean up and get some chores done. Then, I wind down by watching a show. After that, I get ready for bed by brushing my teeth, washing my face, and putting on my pajamas. When I get into bed I turn off the lights off and use my book light to read for a little while. Reading helps me forget about what I had been doing all day, and relax. Sometimes I only read for five minutes, but if I’m reading a really good book I’ll stay up longer. After I am done reading, I turn off my book light and pray as I fall asleep. I keep my phone in my room at night but I try not to look at it before bed because it keeps me up. 

I used to go out a lot in my 20s. I loved going to unique events, like art shows, but more often I would grab dessert or a drink with friends. I had plans on the calendar most nights. If I stayed out late, I could cope with getting less sleep. Now, I tend to invite friends over instead of going out because it’s easier. My kids wake up at 6:00 whether I went out the night before or not. 

Sometimes I go out with friends after the kids are in bed, but I’m always tired the next day. Not only do I get home late, but I find that I can’t go to sleep right away because I need some time to wind down. I make it work because I need some time with friends to stay happy and healthy, but I know I will struggle the next day every time I go out at night. 

Even though I don’t sleep as much as I would like, I value a good night’s sleep. I realize how much sleep, or lack of sleep, impacts my health. I have been learning more about good sleep hygiene, but it’s discouraging. I know I’m not getting the highest quality sleep but since I have young children I’m not sure how I can make the changes I need to make to sleep better. 

Jamie Smith

Jamie Smith

Jamie Davis Smith is an attorney, writer, and mother of four who values a good night's sleep. She loves exploring her hometown of Washington, DC, and beyond.

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