I just can’t get enough

Image: Flickr/Jordon

I was the youngest of four children.

This meant, of course, I was always the first to go to bed. Trudging upstairs at 7pm, life seemed totally unfair, particularly when my brothers were staying up to watch amazing TV shows like, erm, That’s Life.

When I became an adult, I was suddenly allowed to stay up late. And I did, visiting clubs and walking home at 2am. When I moved to London I worked as a bar manager, heading into work at 6pm and coming home again at 8am. Then I became a reporter and life was one long round of red-eye flights, press conferences, product launches and parties.

As long as I found 20 minutes in the day to have a catnap, though, I was good to go. And I could sleep anywhere – taxis, tubes, friends’ sofas..

I’m not sure exactly when it changes, but these days I crave sleep like a junkie craves a crack pipe. I find myself daydreaming of warm beds and fluffy pillows. I pore over catalogues of bedspreads and throws and imagine how cosy and comfortable they must be. I dream of blinds that black out every speck of light, and doors that don’t get pushed open at 2am by small people saying, “Mummy, I’ve been sick.”

And I can never get enough.

I’m lucky to have a child with shockingly low standards of domestic excellence, so she’s quite happy with our morning routine of getting up at 8.10am and eating breakfast in the car.  She’s also a fantastic sleeper herself, so will happily take herself off to bed on the dot of 7pm each night.

The problem is there just don’t seem to be enough hours in the day any more.

By the time I’ve dropped Flea at school, I’m usually already running late for work. There are endless deadlines, invoices, project updates, phone calls, conferences and events to worry about. Somewhere in between all of that there’s laundry to be done, the electrician to book, the dentist to cancel and the last-minute realisation that the car doesn’t have an MOT. I rarely turn off the computer before 1am, and it’s often later than that.

If I do get a spare 20 minutes in my day, there’s never NOT something to fill it with. There is always more to do. Life just expands to fill the cracks. If I try and take a catnap these days, I basically pass out for five hours and wake up disoriented with my hair plastered to my face and drool on the pillow. I know, it’s a good look, right?

It’s taking its toll. I haven’t been to the hairdresser in a year and my hair is spectacularly rubbish at the moment. Worse than that there are dark shadows under my eyes that laugh in the face of Touche Éclat. I look exhausted.

Either I need better make-up, or I need a better plan. So here’s the thing: how do you carve out time in your day for relaxation? How do you re-energise when life gets really, really hectic? Or have you abandoned the fight and accepted that life is basically about getting five hours sleep a night?


Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

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  1. Vic
    11th November 2010 / 9:49 am

    Yeah, five hours is about what I get on a good day. There just isn’t the time. When I take out work and commuting, the hour when I roll out of bed and get myself and the kids ready for the day, I have four hours in an evening. To get the kids to bed, to cook, eat, clean. No wonder blogging doesn’t get much time, I don’t have the time to spare in the first place!

  2. Pants With Names
    11th November 2010 / 9:54 am

    I’ve totally abandoned the fight. And don’t do any after school things that require me to get in the car. Oh, and make the occasional good use of grandparents to get the odd night off/out – a change being as good as a rest and all that.

  3. 11th November 2010 / 10:58 am

    Oh good grief will someone share the answer to this… I go to bed later and later and later… by the time I get there the birds are cheeping and God is turning the lights of day back on… I feel ok but I know my braining is staggering out the door and who knows when last I remembered someone who wasn’t in my immediate families name!!! And as my son says – what’s wrong with your face!!! Those would be the black circles… I know I need to sleep more but – hellooooo like when!!! The answer I am actually looking for is how to stay awake 24 hours straight for the next twenty years… or until my youngest child leaves home, whichever comes first. And while I am staying awake for twenty years I would like to know how to remain glamourous, interesting to speak to and um,,, able to remember ANYONE’s name!!!

  4. 11th November 2010 / 1:44 pm

    I’ve abandoned the fight. I have accepted I’ll get a good night’s sleep when my boy and the new baby are teenagers. Ho hum. I can recommend Mac concealer though 😉

  5. 11th November 2010 / 3:05 pm

    Once a mother, always a mother. When they are teenagers you don’t sleep cos you are waiting for them to come in. And by the time they are off to uni you are working flat out and still tired. There is no solution to this one.

  6. Nikki
    11th November 2010 / 6:11 pm

    Try not to take on too much work Sally – that’ll help. Yes you do need to pay the bills, but can you cope on less? Life/work balance is really imp.
    I’m a freelancer and its all too tempting to accept more projects and clients but I’m having to push back and turn work down – I’m not superwoman for gods sake, can’t do it all and my priority is the kids.
    Since September I drew a line under my workload and decided it was time to find me again so I re-worked accounts and now go to two fantastic fitness classes a week which are hilarious and I love them – plus I feel better about myself and sleep much better!
    I’m not saying I’m never tired as I am and yes the list of things to do are endless (two kids – one at nursery, one at school so two sets of events etc to remember), bit I make it a rule to be in bed by 11pm and up at 720. Makes life a bit less stressful.
    Hope this helps
    PS Not Mary Poppins yet but a little less creased and harrassed shall we say lol

  7. 11th November 2010 / 10:25 pm

    I am going with the five hours a night thing, I nearly wrote a week then! Maybe that is actually the truth, I don’t know too bloody tired!! xx

  8. 12th November 2010 / 9:43 am

    It’s weird isn’t it? I just think something’s wrong with that picture, no?

  9. 12th November 2010 / 9:44 am

    ah yes, grandparents. What would we do without them?

  10. 12th November 2010 / 9:44 am

    I get people’s names wrong all the time too. I assumed it was ageing but perhaps it’s sleep deprivation?

  11. 12th November 2010 / 9:49 am

    You’re quite right, I’m spectacularly overloaded with work at the moment, of one sort and another. The joys of a portfolio career!

  12. 12th November 2010 / 3:32 pm

    I wish I knew how to find more time to relax. I work full time, have just (finally) finished a part time masters degree, have a 2 year old, occasionally blog and try to keep a nightmare house clean & tidy. I have learnt that 5 hours sleep is ok, I don’t have to straighten my hair every day, slow cooking saves my life (and son’s nutrition), reading is for wimps (even though I am trying to complete a 100 book challenge) and twitter is a long forgotten memory.
    My mantra is ‘it can’t last forever’.

  13. 12th November 2010 / 4:17 pm

    ‘Turn It Off’ weekends have become essential round here – if the computer is on, it can’t help but be looked at. With both of us running businesses from home, it is scary how much time we spend looking at a screen.
    But we have to be careful or we spend no time ‘with’ each other – just sharing an office.
    So we make a conscious effort to turn them off, and go and do something less boring instead. Like you say – there is ALWAYS something else to do – four children (inc two different schools and a pre-school run every day), house (sodding laundry mountain, the house elves are just plain rubbish at dealingw ith it), three businesses…
    Five hours sleep a night is utterly normal, I thought?

  14. 13th November 2010 / 2:28 pm

    I’m sure I read somewhere that 5-6hrs is actually the ideal amount of sleep from a health perspective – I’m holding onto that because for some reason I’ve been blessed with two non-sleepers, so I’m on my 5th year of not sleeping through the night – arggh! It’s been tougher with the second, so I’ve had to cut back, cut back and cut back some more.
    I suspect you do a pile of stuff ‘free’ for the ‘community’? I was, because I’m one of the most senior with my background in europe – sounds great, until you realise that I am also one of the only ones people could contact. So I have got meaner, and meaner with my time, and a few weeks ago actually cut half my business off totally to only focus on the Mum side (a HUGE relief). It’s not ‘all about the money’, but I have come to realise that if I’m going to spend time away from my kids, then I need paying – thats been a good rule of thumb to cut back!
    I’ve tried delegating, but I don’t make enough money for it, so it added too much pressure on me to make more money. Plus, I thought that Virtual assistants etc would be better at all the stuff I was doing – but they were slower, even though it was their job :o( Mind you, I did just delegate to violetposey to move me onto a self-hosted blog, really couldn’t face that!
    In the meantime I agree about the concealer – totally the most important thing in my bathroom, along with omega 3,6 & 9 which vaguely help my brain to work! Plus weirdly blueberries – I know they say that they have all sorts of good stuff in them, I don’t know if it’s true, but they make me feel better.
    Then on time for myself, I just try to make sure I get a 30min bath every other week to myself, and I’m strict about bedtime for myself as my nights are still so disturbed. Every now and again I ask myself what would I think if I was looking back on myself from my retirement home – and that tends to send me out for a haircut or a coffee with a mate or something fun with the kids.
    The key thing is Sally that I’ve read your blog for ages now, and you are a really fun mum who creates fab memories and times for Flea. You also constantly make me giggle, which I need when I’m knackered. Just make sure you are taking care of yourself, so that you can be still having fun with her when she’s older and still making me giggle – we don’t want you tipping over that edge when it becomes too much (and your body will make you cut back). So as long as you are not tipping over that edge, ‘well done you, keep it up’, but if it’s too much, then cut back, I promise it works out ;o)