The Toddler-Induced Hangover Is Very REAL: Andrea Mara Has 9 Tips For Survival
I want to crawl under a rock. My mouth is dry, and speaking is a challenge. I feel nauseous and dehydrated. I want chocolate. Or chips. And a nap. The space under the counter is starting to look like a really appealing spot for a sleep.
I wish I could tell you stories about my night out – drinking Mojitos and dancing till 3am. But I can’t. Not because I can’t remember, but because it didn’t happen. My hangover has nothing to do with alcohol, and everything to do with a toddler and a sleepless night.
He has a cough. He woke at 2am, I went to him, I soothed him, I got him a drink, I went back to bed. He coughed again. He cried, I went to him again, then a third time. I asked him if he wanted me to sleep in his bed with him. He nodded yes, and wrapped his arms around my neck. The coughing stopped, and finally he slept.
Me – not so much. His bed is small, and I didn’t want to disturb him by shifting around to get comfortable . At 5.30am, I finally crept back to my own bed, and passed out. For a whole hour. Then the clock rang – time to get up and face the pain of a day at work on three hours sleep.
The toddler was in great form – no sign of the night’s restlessness having taken its toll on him. Unlike his mother, who could barely speak. He got ready to spend his day playing, and I got ready to spend mine trying to work. I suggested we switch places, pointing out that he was likely to be just as productive as me today, but he wasn’t interested.
So off I went, coffee in hand, bracing myself for a difficult day.
And difficult is exactly what it has been. Time is ticking by interminably slowly. All I want is chocolate, but I don’t have the energy to go to the shop. And I’m feeling guilty, because I’m less productive and less capable today, although none of it is my fault.
We’ve all been here – every parent of a small child has faced into a day like this once or many times over, and somehow, we all muddle through.
But like any hangover, the toddler-induced version has some fixes to help you on your way – no silver bullets, nothing that definitively works, but sometimes, one of these does the much-needed magic:
1 Have a coffee (or two)
We all know that too much coffee is a bad idea, and that there’s a low that follows the caffeine high. We’re told to switch to decaf or have water instead. But if you’re exhausted, you don’t necessarily want to hear that. So while you definitely shouldn’t have 12 espressos, an extra coffee might be in order today. At least temporarily it will help.
2 Eat something energy boosting
Blueberries, almonds and oranges all boost energy; having a box of fruit to pick at will help you get through the morning. On your lunch break, try something with salmon, spinach, kale or quinoa, all of which are known to help flagging energy levels. Treat yourself to some Greek yoghurt with fruit, or just go straight for chocolate. Make sure it’s dark chocolate though, if you’re after the actual energy boost.
3 Eat something you like
As much as we know the benefits of healthy food, sometimes exhaustion wins over everything else. If you can’t bring yourself to go in search of kale or quinoa, and that Danish pastry is calling your name, go for it. Today is not the day for feeling guilty about food on top of everything else.
4 Wear make-up
Or, if you already do, wear more (especially under-eye concealer). A smidge of blusher will make you look less ghostly, and lipstick will almost always make you look and feel better.
No, not those Mojitos we were talking about – try Berocca, magnesium, vitamin B, coconut water, juices, or smoothies. These are all energy boosters that have been recommended to me over the years by other working mums who have been there and dissolved the Berocca. Or just drink cold water; often dehydration causes us to feel sluggish, adding to feelings of exhaustion.
6 Do something interesting
If you can, do work that is stimulating; it might be a distraction from the tiredness, and make time go by quickly. Or, if you’ve got nothing suitably interesting to do, get through your admin. Tomorrow’s energetic self will thank you for that. And if your work requires creativity, exhaustion could be good. According to a study quoted in Scientific American, research shows that you can actually be more creative when tired, because innovation and creativity are greatest when we are not at our best. Admittedly, this one may be hard to buy into when you’re struggling through work on 2 hours sleep.
7 Take breaks
Go for coffee, make tea, go for a walk, meet someone for lunch. Instead of emailing a colleague, walk over to her desk – that should kill another 5 minutes and wake you up in the process.
8 Go to bed
No, not at work – that might not go down well – but plan an early night tonight and think about how good you’ll feel tomorrow. Then actually do it – don’t be on Facebook at midnight.
9 Fake it till you make it
Put on an Oscar-winning performance. Pretend to be the person you would have been today if you’d had a full night’s sleep. Putting energy into faking being bubbly and bright might just help you forget how you really feel.
And remember, somebody somewhere is lying in bed right now because they had too many Mojitos last night, and didn’t make it into work this morning. You did good – you turned up. Now, excuse me while I grab that nap under my desk.
Andrea Mara is a shoe-obsessed, coffee-loving mother of three from Dublin. When she’s not working or looking after her three kids, she’s simultaneously making tomorrow’s school lunches, eating Toblerone and letting off steam on her blog.