How to survive when your baby won’t go the fzZk to sleep

sleep deprivation

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!!

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41 thoughts on “How to survive when your baby won’t go the fzZk to sleep

  1. Omg, thank you!! You really cheered me up!! Its 1am and my toddler is finally sleeping and I got a list of things I need to finish before * tomorrow*. Im 36 weeks pregnant wt a 3.5 year old and getting through a divorce. I try to stay positieve and I try to focus on the good things intead, but Ive been sleep deprived for the last 4 years. Haha planning on taking a nice long shower for 3 days now, but ….. Loved the Surviving Part, that how I feel, my plan for tomorrow : Survive, make sure. the kids stay alive haha. Last time I was paying for groceries with straws. I was sooooo tired I guess, U have no Idea How stupid I felt After I realized what I was doing haha
    Good luck to you all!!! Thank u once again 4 writing this blog!

  2. Best sleep article ever! Between a 9 week old with reflux and a 2 year old who thinks 5.30 is a lie in I have hit the wall once or twice this week! Likely to punch anyone with advice.

  3. After 5 years of sleep deprivation I have learnt to ignore the well meaning prophets. He will sleep when he is on formula, eating solids, crawling, walking, starts nursery, school etc. NO HE WILL NOT. Even when awake until the small hours for special occasions/ travel he will wake by 5.30am. Acceptance has been my answer. Don’t seek the Holy Grail. Accept, adjust and every now and then vent would be my advice. Waiting with baited breath to know what number 2 will be like! Wish me luck as I go in to the breach and good luck to all those wonderful parents out there.

  4. Thank you so much. With a 30 month old who rarely sleeps through and a 22 month old who is still of the opinion milk should be provided in the middle of the night, most nights, I reckon I achieve about 4 hours sleep most nights. It is good to know I am not alone 🙂

  5. I love this, even though I was one of the very fortunate parents whose children did sleep. But I have had the experience of childless friends of mine complaining to me about why they didn’t see their friends with children anymore, and why when they did see them they looked like zombies out of the appoccolypse. People forget babies don’t come with a how to manual.

  6. Serious LOL, yet all so honest and bloody true!!!! As a mum of 4 kids (2 with only a year apart) people ask me how I do it and I couldn’t honestly say. Day,night, days of the week all blur into a crazyness of homework, mealtimes, school runs/clubs, trips, changing bums, wiping bums (there is much toilet trips in this household), baths, tantrums, giggles, cuddles crying and so forth and sometimes at ridiculous O’clock in the morning I wonder if it will ever end, then I must shut my eyes for a nano second and when I awake….. I realise it never does. It’s a bloody miracle I managed to write this semi-legible.

  7. I love this it’s the best sleep related article yet. Today I put the milk in the cupboard and the tea bags in the fridge after 4.5 yrs of no sleep between my eldest and my 17mth old I feel frazzled on a daily basis. It’s so nice to know there are others out there awake at those lonely crazy midnight hours. I have also once tried to answer the remote when the phone rang and am regularly at the school gate, make up free hair in top knot with some sort of yoghurt or baby slime on my shoulder and I’m not even sorry. sleep deprivation is a recognised form of torture so at least we know we are all a little bit badass for being able to withstand it xx

  8. What a brilliant article. After 12 weeks of very little sleep this is definately what I needed to read!

    I’m officially cheered up 🙂 thanks! X

  9. Genius, and sadly all true. I don’t recall my last block of more than 4 hour sleep but I liken myself to a modern day superhero for surviving this! 🙂

  10. The one thing with all those guidance books about baby sleep (or nursing or what ever) is that they assume you don’t have anything else to do, like a 1,5 yo toddler to look after as well. So when the baby naps, the toddler may poke her fingers in the power point if you sleep.

    But even without the toddler, if the baby sleeps naps 15-20 minutes in one go, even thought you’d be able to fall asleep the very minute, then that is just not going to add up to enough. I made some scientific research based on one case (me) on this: one needs to have at the least 4 hours consequent sleep to feel anywhere close to a human. Ugh.

    Btw, isn’t it funny that of the 2 mums of one child and a woman without a child who told me it is not ok to wake up a small child (in order to sync their sleep at least some what) that I offered the chance to show me during one weekend how it is done, nobody took up on the offer?

    • Ha yep you are fighting a losing battle. It is actually more stressful than actually staying awake!

      I bet NO ONE with more than one child can do this in reality!

  11. If I can make a slight amendment to no. 11 – you may buy Elizabeth Pantley’s No Cry Sleep Solution. Near the beginning she says you’re welcome to ignore the whole rest of the book. Read up to that point then ignore the rest of the book (or pass out in Sainbury’s).

  12. Amazing, I wish I had read this a year ago rather than just now, and rather than all the top 10 tips on the damn internet!!! I have developed a new skill since I had my son, which is eye open sleeping 😉

  13. This is EXACTLY what I needed to read this evening, thank you! You have made me laugh and eased the various Mum/Baby related stresses I am currently experiencing. And if I don’t laugh, I will cry, a lot. Fab piece!

  14. This. Is. Hilarious!
    I have been sleep deprived for 4.5 years. Nothing worked with my kids. Nothing. All those books and tips and training programs… What a waste of my time and energy. My first son didn’t sleep for three years! Three! When we tried to sleep train him, he taught himself to throw up because he knew we’d come rushing in and throw in the towel. And then for years he would wake up at around 1, stay up till 5:30, and then kick me until 6 which was when I had to get up and get ready for work. For months I cried on my way to work, every single day. My second just started to sleep though the night. He’s 15 months old. Before then he would wake up every three hours for milk, every night, so basically we had a new born baby for 15 months.
    And by the way, I did pass out once from sleep deprivation. I was alone with the kids for a month and half, and neither of them would sleep. My the end I just collapsed!
    No one can prepare you for this. No one.
    Leila Boukarim

    • Thanks! Actually I totally forgot I passed out once too in the early days..which is why I now do whatever it takes to get sleep- oh and remember to eat! I better change that one to you may just pass out!!

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