Sleep begets sleep (or, the more you do it, the more you do it). It’s Infancy 101. Classic is the “don’t let him sleep too much during the day or he won’t sleep at night.” Baloney. For the wee ones, sleep is a skill that they do in rhythm. When they feel like they enjoyed an exceptionally satisfying nap, after a quick snack and change they say to themselves, “that was fantastic – let’s do it again!” Conversely, after long stretches without nappy time, it’s as if we lay them in the bed and they say, “what’s this place? I’ve never been here before. What do I do here?”
I’m finding Truth #2 even applicable through little kid stage. The 5-year-old boy rests better after a string of days with (short) naps and nights with reasonable bedtimes. Put him on a no-nap streak and add a late night, his little body can’t descend into slumber as quickly – and then the 5-year-old in him gets bored and restless and gives up. It’s not that he’s not tired – he can’t get his body and mind to match. He gets out of his sleep rhythm. Because you’ve never been wide awake at 2am, exhausted before, have you?
The key, then, is to do more of what you need. Not to save up ’til later and try to cram it all in. If I’m in a streak of not-so-great dinners, I cook a extraordinarily fantastic dinner (one of those go-to crowd pleasers) and usually my inspiration resurfaces and I find the groove.
When I can’t seem to connect with God in my 15 minutes of quiet in the morning, I get up at 5 instead to see how fulfilling that time becomes. I’ve yet to be disappointed.
Of course, there’s always a time when you take a break and step away. This is true of any routine. But far too often I think we elect this course of action over pressing in because, well, it’s easier. But what if our frustrations reflect not a need of surface-level engagement but rather digging deep? We want to throw in the towel not because it’s too hard but because it lacks meaning.
I’m notorious for hating cold pools (my ideal swim is around 98 degrees. In the sweltering sun). I typically put my feet in, one-by-one, descending the ladder slowly, carefully and quite typically, loudly. I’m not known for suffering silently. But if I’m after a good swim, why would I want to stay on top of the water? My true-swimmer friends know it’s far more effective to dive in and adjust to the temperature quickly.
The wetter you are, the wetter you will be.
The happier you are, the happier you will be.
The more rested you are, the more rested you will be.
The more you do it, the more you will do it.
Which brings me to the tie of the two pieces of non-advice. When I habitually feel good and love simply and forgive easily and calm my mind frequently – the more I will do it. It can be like jumping into a cold pool to give up my quick temper or snappy remarks, but after a while I’m swimming laps more gracefully.
So, there you have it. My bits of parenting advice, boiled down to you. You pass on to your kids the way you interpret the world – do so intentionally. The more you do it, the more you’ll do it.