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.
12 thoughts on “6 Energy Management Tips (for the under-slept, over-worked, father-of-many)”
Great tips Chris. Thanks. I actually do a small amount of stretching and some mobility moves to keep my energy up, of course I never overdo it, but a few shoulder retractions and rotations, hips stretches whatever your problem areas- these keep me feeling “human” and part of the living world around me.
Baby Bump Fitness
Hey Chris! Those were really good tips! Nothing too fancy and impractical but real things that are “do able”.
Incidently, last month, on October the 16th, my wife has given birh to a son too. I am now the proud father of a daughter and a son.
So, I hope I can put into use all these tips and achieve some results too.
Congratulations on becoing a father (again). I guess, no matter how many times it happens to a person, the feeling is always so incredible, right?
All the best,
-water will help when we slip up and have the sugary foods.
-getting outside is the best way to get vitamin D. We get are DV in about 10 min. the sun is the best way to get vitamin D plus it’s free! I love getting my Vitamin D! The 20-min. naps sounds great and i’m going to work on that one (even though I don’t use Caffeine on a weely basis) and I hate to tell you this w/ all them kids but I don’t have the time.
Thanks for the tips! I’m currently trying to decide what physical activity I’m going to enroll in (aside from my elliptical at home); it’s between karate, aikido, fencing and/or salsa dancing with the wifey… arghh! Any suggestions?
On another note, I’m also a GTA Dad Blogger (http://incredibledad.com) and am enjoying your site. I’ll be linking you up on my blogroll so keep up the great work!
Have you hared of Brain Gym? activities? Check it out on the web. They are great focusing and energy booster movements.
I found your blog from some posts over at bodyweightcoach.com. You have some great suggestions and insights. My weakness is number 4 on your list. I also have a newborn at home and right now a sugary kick would be awesome (the knowledge of the inevitable crash keeps this one in check).
For an energy boost, on my lunch break I run through Scott Sonnon’s Intu-Flow program and then do Hindu squats and Hindu push-ups to get the blood pumping. It works great to get through the afternoon slump!
Congratulations dad. I have a 13 month old boy, and two girls ages 8 and 10.
I just did a little research in the blogosphere on fatherhood and fitness and found your site. Great stuff. You had me laughing and cheering you on. Welcome Q!
My blog is Papaerobics: fitness for dads on the move http://www.umdthehub.com/jvargas/
All the best to you and your family.
As a father of four, committed cyclist and freelance tour guide I do try to keep fit and less busy, but considering how difficult that can be my secret for happiness is to enjoy the most those moments I get to spend with my kids, does not matter how much it is… an hour, some minutes, the secret is to be there and to enjoy the most!
“Life is like a bicycle,” Albert Einstein once said.
“To keep your balance you have to keep moving.”
Thanks for the advice! I love getting in those 20 minute cat-naps! They really do help keep you energized throughout the day. A balanced diet is key as well, that is what I have been learning recently.
Just found your blog. Thanks for the tips. Sleep and water is what I am trying to work on. I live in the South and heat is always a battle especially when trying to drink a lot of fluids.