According to a study released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, single parents of kids under the age of 18 get the worst night’s sleep out of everyone. Topping that list at a whopping 44% are single moms. Making this study even more interesting is that among married parents, dads are the ones who get less sleep than moms do.
Looking back to my single mom days, I can’t say that this study surprises me. I’ve been known to be a pretty good sleeper (I have mastered the art of falling asleep in 5 minutes). However, if a kid so much as creaks the floorboards outside my door, I’m up. When there was no other parent sharing the nighttime duties, my radar was on overdrive. Plus, there’s the whole losing sleep over worry….
Back in the day when I was the only parent in charge, I was a little OCD when it came to the kids and their schedules. Okay, I was a LOT OCD. I had their whole schedule coordinated in a calendar on my phone, and I checked it repeatedly to ensure I wasn’t missing anything. I orchestrated every single day so that I knew to the minute when I should leave Point A to get to Point B, and which route to take if I had multiple stops to make. I made lists and checked them twice (or at least a dozen times).
And I had a really, really hard time asking for help.
This all came to a head, however, when my sister came to town and wondered if she could be the one to pick my kids up from school. I almost went into panic mode as I mapped out the roads she should take, where she should park, and how much time she had to navigate from one school to the next. At one point, I even told her to forget about it—that I would just pick them up, myself.
“You’re being ridiculous,” she told me, grabbing the map and her keys, and heading out the door.
But the thing was, I didn’t know how to be any other way. I’d been doing it on my own for so long, that letting someone else have the reins in my children’s care was more than nerve-wracking. What was the worst that could happen? Plenty. She could get lost. She could forget to pick them up. She could pick up one child, but forget I had another. She could pick up the wrong child. She could pick up more kids than just my own. She could pick up my kids, but then get into an accident on the way home. She could forget how to get home.
Needless to say, she picked up my kids just fine. And they made it home just fine. Everyone was just fine, except for poor, ridiculous single mom me.
I’m married now, and I’m getting a lot more sleep than I did in my OCD, single mom, worrywart days. And my hat is off to all you single moms—and dads!—who are going it alone, and sacrificing your sleep over worry, over every little sound, or just sleeping with one eye open for the well-being of your children.
– Crissi Langwell