Sleep vs. The Planet

A friend of ours just had her second child after 61 HOURS of labor!  Before I had children, that would have made me tired—but now it makes me want to flop onto the floor unconscious.  Why?  Because I always imagined that childbirth was a marathon.  What I realized after my first, is that it’s just the beginning of an endless “Ironmom” tournament that lasts for years. 

In that long succession of sleepless nights, there is a way to balance green values and exhaustion and it’s as simple as asking for help. Here are a few things I’ve learned from wise friends who have kept from being plumb pooped in those early weeks:

1.    Construct a support system: I spent my first few week of motherhood napping, figuring out breast feeding, and eating glorious nourishment prepared by my mother.  Then she left and I felt a little lost. Two of my well-supported friends have arranged for friends or family to help every day of their first month with baby.  I will make sure to do the same next time around.

2.    Consider a diaper service: Luckily my husband has a weird affinity for laundry so I had lots of help with cloth diapers.  Sometimes sheer exhaustion makes other families want to give up on cloth, but having a diaper service can make all the difference.  It’s totally possible to launder diapers alone, but it’s also important to know when to call in support.

3.    Avoid wonder-mom syndrome: Before becoming a mom I judged myself by my daily accomplishments.  Afterwards, I felt lucky to have achieved a shower. It was tough for me to go from a human-doing to a human-being.  The classic symptom of the wonder-mom disease is the urge to do housework when there’s an opportunity to nap.  Let the mess slide, have someone else make peanut butter sandwiches for dinner, and breathe in the smell emanating from the very top of your baby’s head. 

We would like to have a second child someday, and to be honest I’m already nervous about those long sleepless periods with a toddler in the house.  Still, if I follow my own advice, we can balance exhaustion and eco-friendly living. 


  1. My first child was born 4th of July! So I much appreciated this post of yours. I’m amazed I actually had time to get online and read it. 🙂 Newborns sleep a lot, but yet it still seems nearly impossible to get much done with my little one here now. As I type this comment, he is asleep on my chest. I am definitely learning to be a human being and not a “human doing.” Being a new mommy is tough, but I’m amazed by how well hubby and I are adjusting to it all.

  2. After our 2nd was born my new goal for the day was to survive. Once surviving got a little easier I tried to get one thing done a day. The rest can wait!

  3. Congratulations on your little ones Amy and Sara! I have tremendous respect for the work, bliss, and exhaustion of that first year of parenting. It sounds like you are both taking the time to enjoy this unique phase of motherhood. Well done!

  4. Gorgeous post and one of those ones I wished I’d known about before my LO was born! Soooo true about the superwoman bit. Unfortunately I thought I could be wonder mum and crashed hard. Never mind; we live and learn.

    Brilliant advice to all expectant mum and dads, Joy………

  5. Just this morning I was thinking how humbling motherhood is to everyone. I was among the first in my circle to have kids and there were many times when I was overly self-conscious about the job I was doing. Now that more of my close friends and family are having babies, I can’t tell you how many times someone has said to me, “I don’t know how you did it.” Well the answer is, I didn’t! I accepted help and cut corners at every turn. And it DOES get easier. And I think we all heard this before we had kids, but nothing you hear about being a parent, truly prepares you for being a parent.

  6. Yes, I was the…” I can do it all. Don’t need anyone’s help. How hard can it be.” mom. Bad. Bad. Bad. The second baby was actually better, sleep wise, then the first. I had more figured out. Either way, great post and tips. Sleep is so important to I should go get some! LOL!

    Love you gals. Great site and posts. Eye roll, I need to comment more, I know. I read though. I do!

  7. Some very interesting and insightful thoughts. I like this.

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