Last year, my oldest child learned a lot about emotional wellness in his pre-K classroom.  For example, each day after playing on the playground but before lunch, the kids engaged in “Breathwork.”  They would lie on their backs on the floor, listen to soft music, and place their hands on their chests and bellies.  Then, they would breathe deeply.

As my husband said at the end of the school year, “No one taught me the importance of breathing to calm myself down until I was well into my 30s.”

Another wonderful gem of self-awareness and wellness he learned last year was about his “bucket.”  You may be familiar with the concept.  The idea is that each of us has a bucket.  Some experiences and encounters “fill up” our buckets.  Some experiences “empty” or “drain” our buckets.  Our son, W, learned that when people said hurtful or ugly things to him, that emptied his bucket.  He also learned that when his bucket was empty, he was more likely to be ugly to others himself.  Or to be cranky, or tired, or hungry, etc.  He encouraged us to treat him in a way that would fill up his bucket, and learned to articulate when his bucket was running on empty.

Relationships have buckets, too.  If you and your significant other are constantly sniping over dirty dishes, running around each other but not really making meaningful contact, or harboring resentment or anger, your relationship bucket is getting drained.  Date nights (in or out!), affection, kind words – they can all go a long way to refilling a relationship bucket.

Right now, there’s a big, gaping hole that is sucking my bucket dry.  It’s called fatigue.

Baby A was born exactly 5 months and 1 day ago.  That means that for exactly 5 months and 1 day, I haven’t had more than 3-4 hours of sleep at a time.

My other two kids didn’t “sleep through the night” until around their first birthdays, plus or minus a few weeks.  So, I am intellectually prepared for Baby A to be the same.

And still, that bucket is a’drainin’!


  • Injuries that had been largely resolved are hurting again, which means my tissues aren’t able to repair themselves as they should be.
  • My reaction time is slower than normal.
  • I am emotionally on edge.
  • My “fight or flight” instinct kicks in for no discernible reason, suggesting some adrenal issues.
  • And it goes without saying that I lack the energy that I need to power through my day.

“Dear Henry” isn’t going to be able to fix this hole in my bucket.  Only time will plaster over this one.  Since Baby A is child #3, I am aware of this reality and I accept it.  So, unlike rounds one and two of this whole infant-induced sleep deprivation thing, I have made the following modifications in my life:

  • I am exercising at 50-60% of the intensity that I do when I am well-rested.
  • I am intentionally getting as much sunshine (Vitamin D!) as I can, focusing on the morning rays.
  • I have cut out some activities that I enjoyed and gave me pleasure but that I found too burdensome from a time standpoint.
  • I monitor my GI system very carefully, and am eating foods that are easier to digest (more slow cooking and less raw) along with more fermented foods.
  • I am much quicker to apologize for and explain my emotional / stress-related “lapses in judgment.”
  • I’ve cut out all caffeine, except for small amounts in dark chocolate, because I don’t want to tax my adrenals further.  I also don’t want to use a chemical stimulant to mask the reality of how all of this sleep deprivation is making me feel.

So far, I am hanging in better than I did with the first two kids.  But make no mistake, the first year of a baby’s life is brutal on her primary caregivers’ well-being.

My bucket is pretty low.  Apologies in advance if I say something to “unfill” your bucket!

How do you cope when your bucket starts to get low?  What kinds of things help you refill it?


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