My wife and I are a unique situation, we are one of the 1/8 couples that suffer with infertility and are lucky enough to have a family. The fact that Max and Mathilda are alive is miracle and I’m forever grateful to Berlin for the beautiful family that it has given me.
Berlin – A Great City To Raise Children
The last few months have been rough on our relationship and my health. In my most recent posts you can read about just how hard it has been. Sleep deprivation and several illnesses have pushed my body to the limit and it has forced me to reflect on my situation and make some changes.
Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I have decided to focus on being grateful for what I have and just how lucky I am. One of the greatest gifts that life has given me was meeting Olivia and moving to Berlin.
“Apart from the infamous bar and club scene Berlin is an amazing place to have a family.”
When most people think of Berlin they think of club mate drinking, 20 somethings lost in cities hedonistic under belly. I was once part of this ephemeral scene but the long Berlin nights now seem like a distant strobe lit memory.
There are many sides to Berlin and it is a city that caters for everyones needs. Apart from the infamous bar and club scene Berlin is an amazing place to have a family. If we lived in any other country in the World, we would not be able to have the life that we do now.
Here are some of the reasons that Berlin is a great place for infertile and fertile parents:
IVF Covered By Health Insurance
4 years ago, when we began on our IVF journey, IVF was covered by our health insurance. There is one catch, you need to be married. Olivia and I married very quickly once we discovered that we could not have a family naturally. Some would think that this is not very romantic. I would say that they don’t have a clue. The commitment and hard work that goes into IVF treatment is only for the strongest of couples.
“most health insurance companies covered the cost of IVF treatment.”
It used to be the case that most health insurance companies covered the cost of IVF treatment. When we found out we needed to go through assisted reproduction there was only one company that covered it 100%. That company is Knappschaftand they covered three full treatments. The price per treatment is roughly €7,000.
“living in Berlin means that we saved over €21,000″
Being married and living in Berlin means that we saved over €21,000. That it is a lot of money for a young married couple. The fact that we did not have to pay out of our own pockets saved us a lot of stress. My heart goes out to couples that have to pay for treatment and suffer through the hardship of the IVF process.
It was not so long ago that I was at rock bottom and I thought that I could not have a family. It is amazing how much your life can change within a couple of years. Every day when I write in my morning journal, I take time to say thank you to Berlin for giving me a family.
“many health insurance companies in Berlin now pay 50% of the costs.”
Just after our final IVF treatment, the healthcare system changed. It is no longer the case that IVF is fully covered by health insurance. There is a silver lining though, many health insurance companies in Berlin now pay 50% of the costs. If you live in Berlin then you are lucky to be in one of the cheapest places to get IVF treatment.
Excuse the filter that makes me look like I am wearing foundation. After trying everything in our power, eventually Olivia was pregnant. This was at the maternity hospital a few weeks before the birth
Berlin has World Class Hospitals
World Class Hospitals
The hospitals in Berlin are amazing. I come from country where the healthcare system is total mess. Health Insurance in Berlin is compulsory. Every employer must pay health insurance for their employees. On average it costs somewhere between €350 – €400 per month. If you are unemployed then the state pays the helath insurance for you.
After Olivia fell pregnant, we thought the hard times were behind us. Our joy was short lived as Max and Mathilda were born 10 weeks early. 10 weeks is a shit load of time during a pregnancy. Olivia’s pregnancy was cut short by 25%. The day of our twins birth was a rollercoaster of emotion. It was both the scariest and happiest day of my life.
When they were born, they weighed just over 1400 grams and needed life support machines to survive. They lay fighting for their lives in the NICU for 6 long weeks and it was all covered by our free health insurance. It is estimated that it costs $3,000 per day in the NICU. It would have cost upwards of $300,000 for our twins stay in hospital for 6 weeks.
The Cost Of Living Is Less Than Most Major European Capitals
On top of IVF being (partly)covered by health insurance and the amazing neonatal care the city is also one of the most affordable capitals in Europe. I know that rent prices are on the rise but comparatively speaking it is much cheaper than most major capital cities in Europe.
“We have an beautiful 3 bedroom centrally located apartment and our rent is just under €800 per month.”
We have an beautiful 3 bedroom centrally located apartment and our rent is just under €800 per month. The charming “Altbau” (old build) apartment has huge 3 metre high ceilings and is 110 square metres in size. It is more than enough space for a family of four.
The one downfall is that we live on the 4th floor without a lift. Instead of seeing this as a hinderance, I see this as a free gym. Carrying shopping and two babies up 92 steps is the most practical workout that I can think of.
In Berlin, couples get 14 months of paid paternity leave to share amongst themselves as they wish. In our case, I took 2 months and Olivia took 12 months. Our dream apartment is so affordable that when Olivia finished her one year of paid paternity leave we could afford for her to stay at home with the kids for almost another year.
In Berlin parents are entitled to take up to 3 years paternity leave with the first 14 months paid. Olivia took one year unpaid as the twins were too young to start Kindergarten. Kindergarten in Berlin runs on a similar schedule to the school year. It begins in August. Our kids were only 10 months old last August so Olivia was forced to take a year unpaid leave .
“In Berlin parents are entitled to take up to 3 years paternity leave with the first 14 months paid.”
It is hard to believe but in less than month they will be starting in Kindergarten. One of the greatest things that the Berlin social system has to offer is the free Kindergarten places. When I look at the extortionate prices of Kindergarten in other countries I count my blessings. We will send our twins to Kindergarten for 4 years and it is completely free.
“One of the greatest things that the Berlin social system has to offer is the free Kindergarten places”
As cities go there are not many better than Berlin for raising a family. IVF is more affordable than in most countries, the neonatal care is out of this World and the Kindergartens are free. I did not even go into child support money, the abundance of playgrounds, free education and the vast green spaces for children to roam freely.
Yes, Berlin is the hub of nightlife in Europe but there is another side to this cosmopolitan melting pot. For all the Millennial party animals that have decided to grow up and have a family, there are not many better places than Berlin to raise a child.
Are you having trouble unwinding? Are you feeling overwhelmed by all of the demands that parenting life throws at you? Do you feel burnt out? Welcome to the wonderful World of parenting. Parents have one the most time/energy consuming jobs on the planet and it can sometimes feel all consuming.
Unwinding is not easy when you become a parent.
Over the last few weeks, life has thought me some very valuable lessons Being constantly sick and close to burn out forced me to look inwards. There were questions that I had that needed to be answered. Why am I tired all the time? Why am I getting sick so often? Why am I fighting with my wife?
After sitting down and journalling about my problems, I saw where the issues lied. Looking at my calendar and schedule, there was no time for myself or my relationship. I was living a life that had was going at full speed for one and a half years without any semblance of a break.
I was on a collision course with burn out and divorce unless I made some massive changes. Since becoming a father, I felt that I was invincible. My inner voice told me that no amount of sleep deprivation or work could stop me from moving forward. This could not have been further from the truth and my health suffered as a result. Trying to do too much led me to being sick 5 times in 6 months. The last round of antibiotics was the nail in the coffin.
Something had to give. I was sick, tired and fighting with Olivia the whole time. The 16 hour days, 7 days per week, had become untenable. To add to being a full time parent working parent of twins I was trying to balance writing a blog and training for half marathon. Not only was I overworked but I was under rested.
To counteract the extreme tiredness, I discovered some revolutionary solutions for getting my life back.
4 Solutions To Help You Unwind
Unwinding Solution 1 – Get A Babysitter
One of the best decisions that I ever made was getting a babysitter that can handle twins. It took me a year and a half to find to do this. Don’t wait that long. Paying somebody to mind the twins 1-3 times per week has freed up time for me to look after myself and my relationship.
Having a babysitter means that for at least a couple of days per week, I can switch off and not worry about my to do list. This is down time, for 8-15 hours per week, is enough for me to recharge my batteries. A babysitter has also reduced the amount of friction in our marriage that comes from being parents of twins.
Most parents do not find the time to look after themselves and this unhealthy. You need to invest in time for yourself to recover. Since finding a baby sitter I have committed to one date night per week and one day for myself twice per month.
My health had forced my hand in finding a babysitter and I wish that I had done it earlier. It is hard to see it at the time but you always learn the most from difficult situations in life. I hope that my lessons will save you from suffering like I did.
Unwinding Solution 2 – Make Sleep Your Priority
The next big problem when it comes to being a unwinding is sleep. The old “I’ll sleep when I am dead” adage is not a motto to live your life by. One of the reasons that I was sick so often was the lack of sleep.
Trying to run, work and blog on top of being a parent is impossible when you are not sleeping properly. For the first 6 months to year of your baby’s life it is normal to be sleep deprived. After that, sleep deprivation becomes a health hazard. Invest in a good sleep mask and ear plugs and turn off your phone an hour before you go to bed. You can read more about how parents can get more sleep here.
In the last couple of weeks, I have placed a priority on sleeping and it has made a massive difference to my health and overall performance. Sleeping is a natural remedy for a lot of ailments and it will really help you to unwind.
Unwinding Solution 3 – Be Patient
Another massive failure of mine was trying to do too much. Since having the babies I have massive goals and aspirations and it can be overwhelming at times. I have learned to slow down and be more patient in what I want to achieve in life. My goals have become much longer stretch goals.
Instead of trying to achieve massive success in some areas in the next 6 months or year I am now planning 5, 10 and 20 years down the line.
This longer term approach has taken a weight off my shoulders and helped relax. The less pressure that I put on myself the easier it is for me to unwind. If you are familiar with Seth Godin’s book Outliers, then you will know the 10,000 hours rule. To summarise the rule, it takes 10,000 hours to become World Class at anything.
This view has helped me to relax. For example, I have invested rougly 1,000 hours into my first year of blogging. To get to the level that I want to achieve as a writer/blogger it will take another 9 years or 9,000 hours.
Unwinding Solution 4 – Make Time For Yourself
You do no just need to take breaks and go on dates with your partner. You also need to take time for yourself to relax and unwind. As mentioned above, I have scheduled two days per month for myself, when I look after number one. This could be going to the cinema, a trip to spa or a massage.
Taking time on my own with my thoughts is a great way to unwind. As a parent, I feel that I am always switched on. It is either work or family and not much in between. Taking time to proactively do something for myself on my own helps to hit the reset button.
It is normal to feel like parenting and life are getting on top of you. This is true for nearly all parents. You are not alone in feeling overworked and under appreciated. Learn from my mistakes and before you get sick, take a break.
Get a good baby sitter. Use the time when the babysitter is there to rest and recover. You also need to make time for your relationship. Go on a date night as often as possible. Do something fun!
After you have prioritised your relationship then you need to do something for yourself. Get a massage, go to a spa or watch a good movie.
Whatever you do don’t forget to make time to unwind. If you don’t then you could be doing some very long term damage to your body. The last thing your children need is a sick parent.
Are you a parent that is struggling to unwind? I would love to hear from you in the comments below.
As hard as we have had it, nothing could prepare us how hard it is to have two babies at once. There is a constant demand and it takes its tole on your health. It takes a lot of sacrifice and change to avoid parental burnout.
To avoid parental burnout, you will need to work hard, be open to criticism and not give up. Giving up on your relationship is the easy way out. Accepting that you have problems and doing something about them takes bravery.
Olivia and I have had a lot of struggles of late and we have made some big changes in how we communicate and how we make time for each other. We have put some measures in place to protect our marriage and avoid us killing each other.
4 Simple Ways To Protect Your Marriage From Parental Burnout
Accept Things The Way They Are
Olivia and I are like any parents, imperfect and full of flaws. A big problem that we have had in our relationship is that Olivia says “what if had just one kid” or “if only we lived in an apartment with a lift” or ” it could be better if we had more help”. There are only so many times that I can hear “if’s” and “could’s” before I start getting frustrated. This is one of the biggest reasons that we fight.
When you are a parent you often just have to accept things as they are. If you cannot accept them then you need to make changes. Talking about how you wish everything was different is a waste of energy unless you are doing something about.
When you have twins your energy is a precious commodity. You cannot waste the little energy that you have on “what if’s” . Acceptance of your situation is one of the first steps to conserving your energy and avoiding parental burnout.
Don’t Always Give Solutions
This is my biggest issue and I need to keep working on it. I have spent my whole life solving problems. I’m at my best in high stress situations where I have to solve many problems quickly and decisively. This does not work well in a relationship.
When your wife comes to you with a problem she often just wants to be listened to as opposed to finding a solution. This is very hard for me to do. It takes practice to stop and listen but it can be done.
Now, when Olivia comes to me with a problem, I listen and acknowledge it without giving her a solution. It takes a lot of patience and I often have to breath deeply and put myself in her shoes. We are so different and the majority of the time my opinion and outlook is the opposite of hers.
Our outlooks are so different that she often thinks that I am disagreeing just for the sake of it. This is never the case. When she has a problem she can only so the problem and how it effects her. When I have problem I see an opportunity for growth and change.
This outlook has helped me throughout my life but it is not good for my relationship. Having twins and being close to parental burnout has caused us to fight a lot. These fights have given me a chance to reflect and change how I communicate with Olivia. Having twins has forced me to become a better listener.
Be Kinder To Yourself
Another valuable life lesson that I have learned over the last few months is to be kinder to myself. Being kinder and less critical of myself has helped me to be less critical of others. I have learned to stop talking to myself negatively.
Meditation is a tool that has thought me to speak to myself in a kinder way. Recently, I read a book by Ray Dallio called principles. Ray Dallio is also billionaire investor, hedge fund manager, and philanthropist and a devoted meditation practitioner. He lives his professional and personal life by a set of principles.
This book can teach everybody a thing or two about how to live your life based on radical open mindedness and principled thinking. Reading this book has helped to me make better decisions. You simply just have to ask yourself are your decisions/actions in line with your principles. If they are not then you know what you need to change.
Principles are unique to each individual and you need to create your own. I use evernote to record principles that I try to live my life by. This list is ever growing and I try to look at it twice per week.
It is a turbo powered version of the Dale Carnegie quote but it is not just for when you are talking about others. This is also true for when you are talking to yourself. Here is my principle for being kinder to myself and others.
When taking to/about myself or others I will not judge, condemn, blame, insult, demand, compare, label, diagnose, punish or criticise. All of these words are considered violent communication. Talking in any of these ways usually has a negative impact.
Trying to avoid talking to myself violently has resulted in me being kinder to myself. This has also helped to communicate better with Olivia. Being kinder to yourself will help you to avoid parental burnout.
Getting A Good Babysitter/Nanny Will Help You To Avoid Parental Burnout
Finding a babysitter has helped me the most in avoiding parental burnout. This is something that we should have done a lot earlier. Instead of taking time for ourselves and our relationship we suffered for a year and a half.
If you are a parent and especially if you have twins then I cannot stress enough the importance of an extra pair of hands. If you are lucky enough to be in a situation where you have family members that are not working then you may not need a babysitter.
In our situation, we did not have much help as we only have a small family here in Berlin. They help when they can but work full time. Putting an ad online with strict criteria has led us to finding an amazing babysitter. She is an absolute sweet heart with tonnes of experience as an au pair, minding twins, and teaching art to children.
It is hard to find someone that can manage the stress of minding two babies at once. When you find that person then jump at the opportunity. Having someone that you can trust and is able to manage two babies at once is gift that will save your health and your marriage. The money is irrelevant when you take into consideration the positive impact that a good baby sitter will have on the whole family.
Life is a constant merry go round of happiness followed by times of struggle and hardship. When you become a parent nobody tells you just how hard it is going to be. If you are a parent of twins then it is even harder.
The last few months have been incredibly hard on me both physically and mentally. The challenges that we have faced have thought us some valuable lessons. It is often hard to see it at the time but you learn the most when you are going through a hard time.
It is important to step back and look at the situation objectively. Of all the lessons that we have learned over the last while finding a good babysitter was one of the best things that we have ever done.
Having time for our relationship and getting little breaks has made our lives so much easier. We have also learned to communicate with each other better and the importance of downtime.
If you feel like you are going through parental burnout then make sure that you make time for yourself and your relationship. As great as it is being a parent and ticking things of your eternal to do list, it is also important to relax and look after number one. If you do not look after yourself then you may be doing more long term damage than you think. If you end up with a serious illness because of parental burnout then your whole family will suffer.
Are you close to burnout? I would love to hear how you have beaten it in the comments below.
I recently read an article about the divorce rate for parents of twins being higher than parents of just one child. Having twins is the third most difficult thing that I have ever experienced. Our first three years of marriage have been a baptism of fire and our relationshop has been pushed to it’s limits. The first test was infertility and IVF treatment. That was quickly followed by our second difficult challenge, our twins being born 10 weeks prematurely.
When they were born at 30 weeks, it was a difficult time for us.
After 6 months, when they had finally found their sleeping rhythm, we were sure that the hard times were behind us. In some ways they were. IVF and preemies were emotionally challenging for both of us. Out twins are a blessing but they may be our biggest challenge to date.
What we were not prepared for was just how physically and mentally draining it would be. As I mentioned in mylast post we have both been ill so often. I have been sick 5 times in the last 6 months. The lack of sleep and breaks with young twins is really hard on the body. Our twins are the best thing that have ever happened to us but the lack of downtime has put a tremendous strain on our relationship.
There is little or no for time for our relationship. We are just parents at the moment and it is taking its tole on our marriage. I’m not saying that we are looking to get a divorce but it having no time for each other is pushing us to our limits. By the time we feed, bath and put the kids to bed it is 9 O’clock and we have been on the go for 15 or 16 hours.
Having twins and not much help causes us to feel constant pressure. We never really get a break from the feeding, changing, crying, working, shopping etc. Being switched on the whole time is not good for your health or your relationship. You need to make time for each other and take time to switch off completely.
5 Reasons That The Divorce Rate For Parents Of Twins Is So High
When you have twins you do not get many breaks. Any breaks that you do get are used to tick things off your forever growing to-do list . Constantly trying to be productive is a habit that is so hard to break.
When you have twins and you get a babysitter, they can usually just mind one baby. Not many people, even family, can handle twins. It’s really hard work and it’s not for the feint hearted.
When you get a babysitter for one kid and have just one kid, it can feel like you are getting a break. Having one kid is not really a break. You still have to look after a child. This is not a chance to recharge your batteries. While it is easier than minding two, it is still work.
Sleep deprivation is a killer. It negatively impacts so many areas of your life. It influences your mood, your health and your energy levels. I cannot count how many times in the last year and a half where I have only got 3-5 hours sleep and had to do a 16 hour day of work and baby minding.
Lack of sleep impacts your relationship as you have no energy to enjoy each others company. On top of that sleep deprivation also causes you to be irritable. Very often, Olivia and I will snap at each other over something minor as we are so tired. Stress and sleep deprivation are a desperate duo that lead to regular arguments.
3.Not Enough Time For Each Other
Parents of twins only get 10-30 minutes of quality time together each day. By the time you have come home and done all of your parenting duties it is late. At 9 O’clock after a long day, you are too tired to spend any quality time together.
At the start we tried to do date nights but this became to hard. When you wake up a 5 or 6 AM you are exhausted by 9 O’clock. If you get a babysitter at night, you are too tired to go enjoy a date night. If you stay out late and have a few drinks then you are exhausted when you get up at 5AM.
Parents of multiples have nobody to talk to about their problems. Not many people understand just how hard it is to have twins. Even parents of multiple children don’t understand the added pressure that having twins has on a relationship. The fact that nobody understands you makes it hard to open up and let other people know about your struggles.
My wife and I are effected differently by having twins and have a completely different perspective on our situation. This makes it hard for us to understand each other. I struggle with managing the pressure of work, being the sole source of income and looking after the kids when I finish work. Olivia struggles with managing two demanding kids on her own Monday to Friday.
The changes to our lifestyle has been drastic and we are both close to burn out. Our health suffers from the constant pressure and the feeling of isolation puts strain on our relationship.
Being sleep deprived, over worked and under constant pressure is enough to give even the most patient person a short fuse. I’m a very easy going person and I rarely get angry. Since having the twins I have been much quicker to snap, especially with Olivia. It’s out of character and I know that it’s caused by the pressure of having twins.
The only time that we have fought more than in the last months was when we were going through IVF treatment. Being in a constant “switched on” state is not healthy and when you put anything under enough pressure it will break.
How To Protect Your Marriage From The Pressure of Twins
Writing this post is like therapy for me. It’s self serving but it is also helpful for other parents of twins. If you have twins and are struggling then you are not alone. Many parents divorce for all of the reasons that I have listed above.
Putting my problems on paper has given me a lot of clarity and helped to take action. If myself and Olivia are not showing up for each other then we are not showing up for twins. I will never put my children through the emotional turmoil that is caused by a divorce.
Instead of giving up, we are doing what we did when we went through IVF treatment. We are working harder on our relationship then we have ever worked. We are making massive changes to improve our situation.
As I was writing this post, I stopped and put an ad on line for nanny to come by for one day per week for 6-8 hours. She will come over the weekend and give Olivia and me a chance to put our marriage first. Yes, this will be expensive but it will give us time to put the spark back into our relationship.
It is hard to see it at the time but adversity and struggle always brings positive change. Our relationship is going through adversity and we have made the change of making more time for each other. If you are struggling with anything in life then you have two options. Give up on what is causing you to struggle or make a change. Giving up is easy but making big change is hard.
I will not give up on my marriage or my family. The only thing to do is work hard and make positive lasting changes. Is your marriage struggling from the pressure of parenting twins? I would love to hear from you int eh comments below.
The last year and a half have been both physically and mentally draining. In the first 6 months of this year, I have been sick 5 times. Twice, I have needed to take antibiotics and that included a bout of pneumonia. Is it normal for parents to be sick so often?
I have been sick more times in the last 6 months than the previous 20 years combined. It is probably due to the fact I put a colossal amount of stress on my body and never get a chance to recover. My day is jam packed from 5AM until 10PM. I usually get between 6-7 hours sleep but maybe that is not enough.
I put my regular illness down to two things. Firstly, the lack of sleep and secondly, the amount of stress that my schedule causes me. I cannot remember the last time that I got a full 8 hours uninterrupted sleep. Either the babies wake up because they are sick or because of the heat or I wake up when the sun comes up and cannot go back to sleep.
My schedule is crazy. Since having the twins, I try maximise every second of my day. I feel that I spent the first 33 years of my life having fun and now I am playing catch up. The pressure of being the sole bread winner and wanting to perform at a high level in so many areas of life is draining. This pressure could be the reason that I am sick all the time. Maybe I should follow this advice.
This was me sick on my holidays. When you have twins you don’t get a break.
In work, I put a tremendous amount of focus on my performance. This comes from an internal desire to make as much money as possible for my family. At home, I do everything in my power to give Olivia as many breaks as possible. In the evenings and on the weekends, I force her to take a break. While forcing her to take breaks, I never force myself to take breaks. If I take break from working or looking after the babies then I feel guilty.
On top of that, I write, work out, study German, meditate and read every single day. I ask myself, is it getting to a stage where it might all be too much? The most demanding two things are minding the twins and working. Between work and the twins I do about 90-100 hours of work per week.
“Between work and the twins I do about 90-100 hours of work per week.”
Berlin is one of the best cities in the World for raising a family. It’s safe, it’s affordable, there are more playgrounds and parks then you can imagine and Kindergarten/Education is free. This family friendly city comes with a price, the family sizes are much smaller. Smaller families means less help. They say it takes a village to raise a child. This was true for my childhood in Ireland but it’s not true here in Berlin.
Having twins and limited amount of help makes life that much harder. It is very hard to get a break from being a parent. As a working dad, I do not get many breaks from work and looking after the twins. Occasionally, one child will stay with their aunty or grandmother but that means that we still have on child. It seems like a break but it’s not a complete break. I think this lack of downtime is contributing to my regular sickness.
Writing this post has given me a lot of clarity and helped to understand that I am doing too much. Burning the candle at both ends is not healthy and I do not want to end up with a serious illness. Has anyone else been in a similar situation? I would love to hear from you in the comments below
Sleep quality is something that affects all parents. Becoming a parent means inevitable sleep deprivation. Broken sleep is unavoidable and it comes with the territory of having a baby. Your pre-baby 10-hour sleep marathons are nothing but a distant memory. The first 6 months are unpredictable and you have to accept that there will be some nights where you will barely sleep a wink.
As your baby starts to sleep through the night it is important for your to get some good deep sleep. Neuroscience is telling us that the “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” attitude is literally killing us. Sleep is the time when your body gets to repair damaged cells and recover from the wear and tear of the previous day.
If you want to really learn about sleeping and just how important it is then I recommend Why We Sleepby Matthew Walker. Professor Matthew Walker, Director of UC Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab and sleep and advisor to top athletes from the NBA, NFL and the Premier League.
While you sleep your body is hard at work recharging your energy levels. There are growth hormones working to repair and build your tired muscles. Cortisolis the hormone in the body that causes stress and also keeps us alert. 10,000 years ago cortisol was used to keep us safe from predators.
Today our fast-paced, high-stress life causes us to release more of this stress hormone than is healthy. Cortisol also helps us to wake up and exercise. When we sleep our body is replenishing our cortisol levels.
Sleep is also necessary for maintaining a healthy immune system. It is massively important for both your physical and mental health. As a parent, you need to be on top of your game and as healthy as possible. One of the pillars of being a happy and healthy parent is getting enough sleep.
“Sleep is the time when your body gets to repair damaged cells and recover from the wear and tear of the previous day.”
I can function, as most parents can on less than 6 hours sleep but I don’t do it too often. Being a father of twins, there are times when I cannot avoid sleep deprivation. After our babies started sleeping through the night, I made sleep deprivation an exception as opposed to the rule.
Here are some tricks that I have learned since becoming a father that have helped me to get some sleep. Since implementing them into my life, I sleep better and can show up better for my family each day.
1.Calming Your Overactive Mind Will Improve Sleep Quality
Calm your overactive mind to improve sleep quality
We all have busy lives and a to-do list that seems never-ending. Getting a good nights sleep means that you have to learn to live in the present. Focusing on the future will cause you anxiety and worrying about the past will make you depressed. Learning how to be mindful and present takes lots of practice.
To calm your overactive mind, set up a meditation practice in the morning or the evening. A simple mindfulness practice will help you to be present and manage your worries. This is far from easy to do and it takes a lot of practice. I would recommend starting with an app like headspace. You can try 10 sessions for free. This was how I got started. There is also tonnes of free content on youtube from people like Deepak Chopra or Tara Brachto get you started. Simply google guided meditation and you will find many options online.
2.Set A Bedtime
Set a bedtime to improve sleep quality
What time you go to bed at has a massive impact on the quality of your sleep. Most people need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. Your sleep comes in waves that are known as sleep cycles. These cycles are 1.5 hours long. It is recommended that you get at between 4-5 deep sleep cycles per night.
Did you ever wake up and feel as if you have been hit by a bus and you can’t seem to wake up properly? This means you probably woke up in the middle of a sleep cycle. If you wake up after or towards the end of a sleep cycle then you will feel refreshed. My sweet spot is 7.5 hours or 5 sleep cycles.
I make sure that I set my bedtime according to when I need to wake up. I try to wake up between 5.30 or 6 AM. This means that I need to go asleep by 10 PM. I try to go to bed between 9 and 9.30 and then the lights go off at 10.
3.A Bedtime Ritual Will Help Improve Your Sleep Quality
Set a bedtime routine to improve sleep quality
I want to get up at 5.30 – 6 AM. This means that I set my alarm for 6.30 AM just in case I don’t wake up in time. If I go to bed at 10 then I will usually wake up before my alarm. The alarm that I use on my phone is an app called gentle wake up. It opens with a gentle light, slight vibration and birds chirping. This gentle wake up is much less intrusive than your average aggressive alarm. Waking up suddenly to an intense alarm is never nice.
The next step in my routine is to turn off all screens 1 hour before sleep time. If for whatever reason, I need to use my phone I have a blue light filter on. Mobile phones, tablets and TV screens emit blue light. Blue light messes with your circadian rhythm and effects your sleep. To help me to avoid my phone before bed I use the thrive app.
I then put on some very relaxing instrumental music with very little or no percussion. Ambient artists like Brian Eno or Max Richter are perfect. Here is my sleepy snooze snooze playlist on Spotify.
Then, I dim the lights, light some candles and make some tea. Rooibosor Chamomileare two teas that help with relaxation and sleep. I also take a magnesium supplement as it reduces cortisol levels which helps me to sleep better.
4.Don’t Eat Too Late
Set a bedtime routine to improve sleep quality
I try to eat no later than 7.30 PM. Sometimes this is unavoidable but eating earlier helps me to sleep better. If you eat too late then your body is working hard all night to digest your meal. This means you are using energy that it could be used to repair your body.
When I eat late and wake up the next day I feel that I did not sleep as well. To avoid waking up feeling groggy then you should try not eat 2 hours before you go to bed. If you do eat something late at night then make sure it is healthy and light.
5.Create A Good Environment For Sleeping
Create a good environment for sleeping
If you really want to get some sleep then you need to set yourself up to win. There are three external factors that will influence the quality of your sleep. These are light, heat and noise. These environmental factors can be manipulated to help you sleep better. Aim to keep your bedroom between 18 degrees Celsius or 67 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have bright room then get blackout blindsor wear a sleeping mask. If your room is too noisy then wear ear plugs.
6.Track Your Sleep Quality
Measure Your Sleep Cycles
I recently discovered a sleep tracking app called sleep cycle. It monitors my sleep using a microphone and motion detector. As I have mentioned previously, you sleep in cycles. If you wake up in a deep sleep you will feel really tired. If you wake up in the lightest possible sleep state then you will feel more rested.
The alarm on the sleep cycle app is very gentle and each morning you get an overview of the quality of your sleep. See the picture below. Some say that the sleep cycle apps are not accurate and can be influenced by factors like your partners movement or other external noises. Either way, I find it interesting I monitor my sleep to see how well I slept.
7.Don’t Drink Alcohol
Don’t drink alcohol if you want to sleep well
It is hard to avoid all of the time but if you are looking to improve your sleep quality then avoid booze. Alcohol and a good nights sleep are not good bedfellows. Alcohol is a depressant and it may help you sleep quicker but it contributes to a poor quality of your sleep.
When you drink alcohol your body struggles to reach deep REM sleep. If you are not getting deep sleep your body will not go into a restorative state. Sleep is when your body gets to fully repair all of the damaged cells in your body. When you drink your body cannot repair itself and this is why you wake up feeling so dishevelled after drinking.
8.Read Before Bed To Improve Your Sleep Quality
Reading is a great way to help you fall asleep
I love to read. Every night before bed I read 20 pages. Previously, I would read business or personal development books before sleeping. My mind would go into overdrive thinking about how I could implement new strategies into my life. The excitement was not what I needed before bed. I would try to go asleep but I couldn’t because my mind was racing.
Now before I go to bed I read fiction or nonfiction that has a story. The key for me is for the book not to be about strategy. Reading before bed makes you tired and helps you to sleep better. It is hard to do but try switch off your screens and read before you go to bed.
Sleeping Tools To Help Parents Improve Their Sleep Quality
Sleep has become such become such an important part of my life since becoming a parent. I spent my twins first half year walking around like a zombie due to sleep deprivation. Those 6 months made me understand the value of sleep. Since then I have created a nighttime and morning routine that helps me get much better sleep.
There are obviously exceptions but most nights I sleep for 7.5 – 8 hours. This high-quality sleep has helped me a lot. As a result, I am less stressed, more focused and more productive in work. Being well rested helps me to have the energy to maintain my busy schedule and be the best dad that I can be.
Are you struggling with sleep quality? I would love to hear more about it in the comments below. Do you have any other techniques that help you to get better nights sleep?
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I’m having one of those days where everything seems like a challenge. I feel like I am being dragged in so many different directions and it can feel a little overwhelming. My schedule is very demanding and my days are often 16 hours long. I usually get up between 5-5.30 and I am on the go until 10PM.
Three years ago my life seemed easy. I had all the time in the World but I was not really happy. The weekends were the highlight of my week and I was unproductive an lazy. Back then, I had no idea how much free time I had. All I did was binge watch series on Netflix. Now, I only watch TV for a couple of hours each week.
Trying To Be The Best Dad I Can Be
Being a father came very naturally to me. There is nothing I enjoy more than spending time with my family. It brings me so much joy and satisfaction. My family is the most important thing in the World to me and everything that I do is for them.
I write “today, I will be the best father that I can be” in my journal daily. Writing this down helps me to remember how I want to live my life each day. It makes my decisions much easier. It forces me to ask myself, am I being a good dad if I do this? If the answer is no then I will usually not do it.
Being A High Performer In Work
I’m working full time as a senior key account manager for an Austrian company called Webgears. I’m a key accounts for our UK portal Voucherbox and I’m lucky that I enjoy my job. I have hefty targets that are constantly growing and it can stressful at times trying to keep up.
Work takes up a massive amount of my bandwidth and time and I always give 100%. This takes a lot of my energy. Working in a high pressure sales environment is not for everyone but I am competitive and it suits my personality. Trying so maintain high performance and hitting my target is tough when you have twins under two. The sleepless nights and little time for R&R make work even more challenging.
To add to the pressure in work, Olivia is not working so we only have one income. She is an amazing mother and we are in the lucky position where she can look after our children until they go to Kindergarten. Just having one source of income adds another layer of pressure to my busy life.
Having The Best Parenting Blog
My goal is to have the best parenting blog in the World in 4 years. This takes up about 20 hours of my week. I work on the blog every morning, evening, lunch break and on the weekends.
When most people are sleeping or watching TV I am hard at work. It seems like a thankless job at the moment. Yes, I earn some money from affiliate marketing, ads, writing for other sites and sponsored content but it is not enough to live from.
Everyday, I write 1,000 words, network, follow my social media schedule and work on SEO. This is all very time consuming and a very slow process. I know that if I keep up this level of hard work I will eventually reap what I sow.
Writing and social media take up the majority of my time. You have to love otherwise you will fail as it is so easy to give up. I am very clear in why I am doing what I am doing. My blog will be the most helpful and entertaining parenting blog on the planet. Its success will give me location independence and time for my family.
Reading, Working Out and Meditation.
On top of the blog, I work really hard on myself and improving my health and skills. Everyday, I read, workout and meditate. The reason that I get up so early is to have time for myself before my kids wake up.
The first thing, that I do when I get up in the morning is write in my journal. I write about what I am grateful for and what I want to get out of the day. Before I go to bed, I review my day and see If I did what I said I was going to do.
After journalling, I meditate. Meditation is a must for me each day. This keeps me grounded. When I have so much to do and life seems hectic, my mindfulness practice helps me to stay in control of my emotions. Living in each moment is one of the many lessons that I have learned from meditation.
After my meditation comes my work out. I run half marathons which requires 5-6 days training per week. Running and strength and conditioning work outs are like natures anti-depressant. When I wake up, and feel like the weight of the World is on my shoulders, nothing makes me feel better than working out.
On top of all of this I also read one book per week. This commitment has pretty much eradicated TV and drinking from my life. Constantly learning new skills and pushing forward gives me great confidence. I read many books about business, writing and personal development. As Warren Buffet says “the more you learn, the more you earn”
As busy as my life is at the moment, I would not change it. The first 33 years of my life were kind of wasted. Looking back, if I had the clarity and focus then my life would be much different.
Since going through IVF, preemies and having twins my life has transformed. Yes, my schedule is full and it can be hard to manage a times , but I have a clear vision of what I want my life to be. That is what I’m working towards it every day. Having this outlook helps to keep me grounded.
It is easy for me to write this post having been through IVF, premature twins and now having two healthy babies. I would not wish what we went through on my worst enemy. It nearly broke us and I’m glad that the fertility chapter of my life is now closed.
Before we went through our first of three treatments we had no idea what to expect. To say that we were naive is an understatement. There were so many lessons that we learned on the way that I wish I known before we started.
Here are the 5 things that I wish I knew before starting fertility treatment.
It’s okay to change clinics
When I received the infertility diagnosis, it was a shock to the system. I never thought that it could be my fault that we could not have children. Infertility is a woman’s problem, or so I thought. In reality, the statistics show that fertility is 50/50 men and women.
I got the initial diagnosis in one clinic and it was delivered heartlessly. The doctor said that I have a better chance of winning the lottery than having children naturally. The rude doctor helped us to decide that this clinic was not for us
We changed clinic and location was one of the deciding factors. Using location to chose a clinic was a bad idea.
The clinic had decent reviews online but it ended up being a bad choice. The clinic was so busy and their was little emphasis on caring for the patients. It felt like conveyor belt for couples dreaming of having a family. It was a big business and we were just another number for them.
The fertility centre was cold and sterile and we had two horrific failed treatments there. After the second failed treatment we were emotionally drained and decided to change clinic. It was one of the best decisions that we made on our journey.
Everything about the experience for the third and successful IVF treatment was perfect. We made lots of changes to our life and changing clinic was the reason that we have our two beautiful babies.
2.Not Every Fertility Doctor Is Created Equally
We ended up changing clinic based on a doctor that was recommended to us. It turns out she worked at the same clinic where I got the initial infertility diagnosis. It took two filed tries and many different fertility doctors for us to find the right doctor for us.
In the clinic where we had the failed treatments we found it very difficult as we were constantly seen by different doctors. This was really hard on us both. You are trusting your fertility doctor to give you a family and it is important that you have a rapport with them.
Our fertility doctor for our successful treatment had everything. She was personable, professional and caring. She found flaws in the failed treatments that we had been through. Not only did she find problems with the first two treatments but she made major adjustments.
It was because of her foresight and attention to detail that our last final treatment was a success. If you are going through IVF treatment then make sure you find the best doctor that you can find. Do not settle for the first doctor that you find.
3.You Can Influence The Quality Of Your Sperm
From the man’s point of view, there are many changes that you can make to improve the quality of your sperm. It will take a lot of work but changing your diet, exercising more and getting enough sleep will help you greatly. You can read more about the changes that I made to improve my sperm quality here.
4.Patience Is A Virtue
I’m a very patient person but I was really tested when we went through IVF treatment. It was almost three years that from receiving the bad news until we had our twins. In the first clinic the doctor said something that stuck with me all the way through our treatment. ” The biggest barrier to successful IVF treatment is couples giving up after two or three tries”.
” The biggest barrier to successful IVF treatment is couples giving up after two or three tries”.
Fertility treatment is a process of trial and error. Each individual and fertility issue are different. If the first try does not work then the doctors will make changes to the treatment until it works.
When you are going through IVF treatment then you need to be patient and realise that it takes time to have a family. A valuable lesson that I learned is not to give up. I was very close to stopping treatment after the second failed attempt. The stress had become too much and I wanted my old life back. Thankfully, we stuck with it and now we are blessed with a family.
5.Fertility Treatment Teaches You Valuable Life Lessons
When you are in the thick of it, it is hard to see things rationally. My mindset during IVF treatment time was that I am learning life lessons that will make me stronger. It is not until you really struggle that you learn who you are.
I learned more about myself during the years of infertility treatment than I did in my previous 33 combined. Looking at the treatment or any struggle in life as lessons is great way of moving forward.
Embracing the hardship as lessons will help you through the difficult times. Even now, two years later, I look back on how hard my life was back then. It puts things in perspective and helps me to appreciate what I have today.
If you are going through IVF treatment then you need to be ready for a fight. Be prepared to make major changes to your life for the treatment to be a success. On top of being prepared you need to stay patient, work hard and realise that your are learning lots of valuable life lessons. While none of this will guarantee successful IVF treatment it will help you get through the process. Good luck!
Journalling is something that I have been trying to perfect for the last few years. I tried several iterations of journalling and none of them stuck. That was until I went old school and started to write with a pencil and paper.
Journalling Has Helped Me To Be a Better Dad
Until recently, I used the 5 minute Journaland I loved it. While it is a great journal, there was not enough space for me to get my thoughts on to paper. I’m very grateful for the 5 minute Journal for introducing me to the habit of writing daily but sadly I have moved on.
Writing on paper V a keyboard is therapeutic and it helps to give me a lot of clarity. Once something is written down then my mind feels lighter. This helps frees up bandwidth to focus on more important things, like being a dad and writing.
6 ways That Journalling Has Made Me a Better Parent
1.Journalling Helps To Improve My Mood
The first thing that I do when I wake up is write for 5-15 minutes. Sometimes it takes longer as my consciousness goes from my mind through my hand and on to the paper. One of the the questions that I ask myself in my journal is what are the 3 things that I’m grateful for?
I try to answer this with a different answer every time. It is easy to say my children, my family and my health but I want to challenge myself to find more things that I’m grateful for.
Focusing on other things that are not so obvious helps to improve my mood. For example, I will say that I am grateful that I have clean water, for the sounds of the birds chirping outside and that I can read. These are just examples of the many things that I have to be grateful for. Writing them down helps me to be content with what I have.
2. Journalling Helps Me To Learn From My Mistakes
If you are like me then you make lots of mistakes. Instead of beating myself up about being human, I see each mistake as an opportunity to learn. Every mistake that I make I write down in my journal. Then I’ll ask myself what did I learn and how can I improve in the future.
These are mistakes that I make in work, in my relationship and in life in general. Life is full of chances for us to learn if we look at it the right way. Journalling reinforces the learning and helps me to improve quickly.
Recently, I was not exercising and I felt bad about it. In my journal I wrote about feeling bad about not exercising. The reason was I was not doing my morning workout was I was waking up when my babies woke up. This meant I had no time to do a workout. I decided to go to bed and get up earlier. Waking up before the babies gave and working our helped me to feel much better.
3. Journalling Helps Me To Remember Stories That Would Have Been Forgotten.
When you have children, each day is filled with amazing experiences that are quickly forgotten. If you have taken a picture then you will remember your experience. The problem is, you cannot photograph everything, particularly funny stories.
The best way to remember something is to write it down. When it is written down then you can read back over memories that would have otherwise been forgotten. This is one of my favourite aspects about journalling
4. Journalling Makes Me Less Stressed.
There is something very powerful about getting your thoughts out of your head an onto paper. When you have a lot of things to do and are facing constant challenges as a parent, it can be stressful.
Writing down what is bothering you helps you to see things from a different perspective. It also helps you to come with solutions for life’s problems. Every morning, in my journal, I write 3 things that I need to do that day. At the end of the day, I review my day and this forces me to get the important things done. If I get my three things done then I have had a successful day and I feel less stressed.
5.Journalling Creates An Environment For A Happy Family.
One of my main focuses in life is to be the best dad that I can be. To be the best dad, I need to show up for my children on all fronts every day. I want them to grow up in a loving environment with happy parents and all the tools they need to grow into happy adults.
Writing in my journal helps me to improve on so many fronts as I am constantly tracking my progress. Monitoring my daily performance helps me to constantly improve as a parent and as man. Journalling helps me to create an environment for a happy family. If the environment is not happy then I write about it and how I can improve on it.
Journalling Helps To Create A Happy Environment For My Family
6.Writing Daily Stories Forces Me To Live A Little
Journalling has forced me to live a better life. It sounds strange but I don’t want to let myself down at the end of each day. When it comes time to writing in my journal, I want to feel like I have maximised that day.
For example, it is now summer in Berlin and the weather is ideal for getting out and about. Sometimes I feel tired when I come home form work but I force myself to bring the kids to a playground. It takes hard work to get them there but it is always worth it. Not only do they have a great time and sleep better but I lived a little more that day.
Why Should You Start a Journal?
If you are facing any challenges in life then I would highly recommend starting a journal. Keep it very simple, write on paper and be consistent. It is one of the most revolutionary things that I have ever done and it has changed my life for the better.
Journalling is very easy to do and the process is enjoyable. Journalling will make you a better parent, partner and person. Finally, keeping a journal will help to give you clarity and to understand yourself better.
Thanks for reading, I would love to hear your thoughts on journalling in the comments below.