ON October 22nd at 2am, Rozanne, my wife, gave birth to our son … Joaquin Gabriel Lopez.
Needless to say, I’m on cloud 9 right now and our friends and families seem to think that I’ve got a certain “glow” because …
1) The “Lopez” name will get carried on (my brother and I were the last in our line of “Lopez’s”) and
2) I now have a male ally in this estrogen dominant family.
Even though it’s been a little over 2 years since we last had a newborn in this house, I (read: my body) seems to forget how inconsistent and unexpected the scheduling is.
Some nights I get 7 hours of sleep, some nights I get 5, but most often lately, I’ve been getting 2 or 3 hours.
I have, however, been able to maintain a certain amount of energy and haven’t really “hit the wall” just yet … and I don’t expect to.
Sleepless nights, inconsistent scheduling, never having things go as planned come part and parcel with being a busy parent.
Managing your energy and having enough of it to function throughout the day will give you the ability to interact with some competence with your peers at work and your family at home.
Here are 7 things that I’ve been doing since the birth of “Q” (that’s what we’re calling him) to help me maintain my energy levels…
1) Stay on Schedule (even though every ounce of your being is telling you not to) – Regardless of how much sleep I get, I’m still up at 5am. Some days I feel like a truck hit me, but most days it seems that my body recognizes that everything is as it should be. I try to go through the exact same schedule/routine everyday – training, studying, working, eating & meditating at the same time.
If something comes up, like last week when I had to pick one of the girls up from school because she was feeling sick, then I accept it, let everything else go, and once order is restored, I get back on schedule.
This alone has been the biggest difference in me maintaining my sanity over the past 3 weeks.
2) Drink lots of water – I can’t stress this enough. Staying hydrated will keep you alert and will keep your brain functioning efficiently. Water (and sleep) as far as I’m concerned, are nature’s medicine.
If/When I get sick, it’s usually because I’m not getting enough sleep or I’m dehydrated. Making sure you’re drinking enough water is even more important if you drink coffee or tea or anything caffeinated because caffeine is a diuretic.
3) The 20-minute nap – This is the one thing that I do “unscheduled”, but I feel refreshed and rejuvinated immediately after. Dozing off for 20-minutes is like hitting the reset button in the middle of the day.
Sometimes I play my meditation CD while I’m napping and other times I just lay down and doze off while “the boy” is asleep on top of me. Either way, when I wake up, I’m almost as good as new.
4) Avoid sugary foods – I’m not a big junk food eater to begin with, but sometimes when time isn’t on your side and you just feel lazy, it’s so easy to just order a pizza or sneak some of the kids’ Trick or Treat candy.
I’ve had my slips and believe me, I’ve paid for it. The sugar highs are great while they last, but the crashes are brutal. In addition to that, excess sugar increases cortisol levels and inhibits immune response … not a good thing if you’re dealing with not getting a lot of sleep.
5) Caffeine management – You may already know this, but I’m an espresso junkie. I love the stuff. I’ve talked about the benefits of drinking espresso instead of the slow drip sludge that you can get from the local “Dunkin’Bucks” HERE.
What I mean by caffeine management, is strategically planning when to drink your coffee (or green tea) at specific times in the day to help you stay alert, prevent the jitters and still allow you to fall asleep at night.
If you wake up at 6am, then your first dose of caffeine can be taken as late as 9am. That’s about enough time for any caffeine addicted body (like mine) to NOT get any headaches. The main thing to note is that caffeine has a 1/2 life of about 6 hours – that’s the time it takes your body to eliminate 1/2 the amount of caffeine you injested. So if you set a 10pm bedtime for yourself, then you should ideally have your last dose of caffeine by 4pm (I have my last espresso at 3pm for safe measure).
7) Get outside – It’s November here in Toronto, and despite it being a little chilly, the sun is out and the skies are clear.
I dropped the kids off at school this morning, quickly returned home, parked the car and got on my bike to head over to the coffee shop and then to my first client.
Nothing beats riding a bike in this city. No traffic, fresh air and a feeling of freedom. If you want to wake up and get some activity in your life, commute to work using a bike – you’ll save money on gas and parking and will be reducing your carbon footprint at the same time.
So those are the strategies that work for me to keep my energy up while I battle 2hr nights of sleep, 3am diaper changes and going to work with spit-up on my shirt.
What are some of your favorite Energy Management strategies? Please leave a comment and let everyone know.