After reading advice for sleep-deprived parents on the entire internet, (including Ten Ways To Tell You Are Sleep Deprived – duh, I am not getting any sleep?!) it seems that all I need to do to feel better is to eat nuts, do yoga and sleep when the baby sleeps.
Well, I have no time (or energy) for yoga, my baby doesn’t sleep and the only nuts I consume are in a Snickers bar – so I came up with my own list…
1. Just so you know, you are probably going to get fat, have heart disease, anxiety and depression… There, now you don’t have to waste time googling the adverse effects of sleep-deprivation at 4am. You’re welcome.
2. View sleep as a luxury not a necessity. This way any amount of sleep you get is automatically a bonus.
3. DO NOT go out in public if you have been up all night. There are people out there and you may have to talk to them. A bit of fresh air can help though- just wear sunglasses and do NOT make eye contact with anyone.
4. TRY to remember you are not a bad parent. Being sleep-deprived can sometimes make your parenting less than perfect but try not to worry. You are not a bad mum for feeding the children fish fingers for three nights running. It will not scar them for life to watch CBeebies for two hours and you will not burn in hell if you bribe them with biscuits.
5. Despite how bad you feel, you are not going to actually DIE from lack of sleep. At worst, there is a small chance you might pass out. Some days it may feel like you have ‘hit the wall’ and can’t go on but you WILL survive; just like you did yesterday and the day before that. Go you!
6. TREAT YOURSELF. I am not sure why drowning your sorrows and comfort eating get such a bad press (I am definitely NOT encouraging binge drinking/eating) because I find a little well-deserved glass of wine or chocolate bar (or three) once the kids are asleep makes getting through the bedtime battle more bearable.
7. NEVER ever look at the clock in the middle of the night. You will just feel the need to add up how much potential sleep time you have left and then lie awake worrying about it.
6. DO NOT do anything until you have had a LARGE cup of coffee. It may have to be reheated several times but it will be worth it.
7. FORGET multi-tasking. Do not attempt to do more than one thing at a time. This will result in jobs being left half done so you will end up ‘multi-half tasking’. I currently have three half written articles, four pending email replies, one polished shoe and I have been doing the same load of washing for three weeks.
8. Maintain a healthy diet. By healthy, I mean food. By diet, I mean remember to eat.
9. Buy slow cooker. These are perfect if you find it difficult to prepare dinner with a hungry toddler repeatedly shouting “is it ready yet?” and a tired baby screaming at you to pick her up. Or, if you just hate cooking. In fact, sod it, just stock up on fishfingers and biscuits. Better still order a pizza.
10. Instead of beating yourself up about all the things you should have done, commend yourself for all the brilliant things you have done. Such as: washing your hair, not breaking any crockery and keeping a baby alive all day long.
11. Do not buy any books about how to get your baby to sleep. Unless they are specifically written about your baby, they are pretty useless. Besides, who has the energy to read books?
12. If you find yourself with an Extreme Waker Who Laughs In The Face Of Sleep Training you are probably at the point where if anyone else suggests anything you really should or should not be doing, you are very likely to punch them in the face. At this stage, the only thing you should be doing is to get yourself and your baby to sleep by Whatever Means Necessary (excluding alcohol and drugs of course).
13. Do not to worry about ‘making a rod for your own back’ or that your child will ‘never learn to self soothe.’ They will learn to sleep eventually and you will learn not to sleep eventually. (Of course, if my youngest is still sharing my bed when she is 30-years-old I will be taking that rod and whacking myself over the head with it).
14: Acceptance. There is only one thing worse than being sleep-deprived – and that is getting stressed about being sleep-deprived. How will I look after the kids on no sleep? How can I be a good parent when I am so tired I can barely stand up? If I don’t get some sleep soon surely I am going to DIE? Well, guess what? You won’t die and you can cope! Once I accepted that my baby was not a sleeper and made my peace with the fact that I will have some days where I am too tired to leave the house but I WILL survive, I finally started to feel a whole lot better.
15. Do not take advice from anything you read on the Internet ever. Especially, stuff written by a severely sleep-deprived mother-of-two who is an expert on absolutely nothing.
More ‘hot tips’ in my new book that contains no baby sleep advice whatsoever… Just lots of laughs and tips on surviving the sleepless nights from someone who has been there!
Sleep Is For The Weak: How To Survive When Your Baby Won’t Go The FzZk To Sleep at book shops or on Amazon now!!