How to get things done when your baby won’t sleep or leave you the hell alone for five f**king minutes

thing to doSOMETIMES I get to the end of the day and I know I have been busy. I am tired, I haven’t eaten lunch, my back aches and I can’t remember when I last sat down.

Yet, I look around me. The washing up bowl is full of dirty dishes, there is a grubby baby sock on the kitchen sideboard, there are toys everywhere, and the baby is covered in this morning’s Weetabix.  

What have I actually been doing? 

To get to the bottom of this, I decided to look at the Things To Do list I wrote at the beginning of the year to see what progress I have made.

Turns out.  Not. A. Lot.   


1) Move the dirty baby sock from kitchen sideboard.

The reason such a simple task made it to number one of my list is because it has been on my sideboard for A MONTH.  I am not quite sure how it got there.  Every time I see it I think, I must move that sock, but then whenever I am on my way to the sock something else ALWAYS COMES UP.  I got close once. I actually picked up the sock.  I turned to walk towards the washing basket with the sock.  Look at me, I thought. I am looking after a baby and a toddler, I have only had two hours sleep, but here I am moving the sock. GETTING STUFF DONE.  Go me. I can do this.


Just as I was about to leave the kitchen The Toddler informed me of her urgent need to WEE NOW MUMMY and I then spotted The Baby trying to eat a battery. I returned the sock to the sideboard, and before I knew it, all thoughts of baby sock cleaning were gone from my mind. *

2) Do ALL the washing (to include dirty baby sock). Ensure washing bin is EMPTY and ALL clean washing is put away and not just left in the baskets. (2015 WILL be the year we keep our clothes in wardrobes and drawers).

God, I was a dick in January.

3) Clean settee to remove the stench of vomity/stale milk/wee/wine. (Buy settee cleaning equipment). 

Or?  Buy Febreeze, a giant throw and avoid having any guests who like sitting down?

4) Call Orange and tell them my phone is broken. My phone has been broken for three months. It is still broken. I have gotten around this by simply not making any phone calls. This is not ideal.  I tried to call them just now in the hope I could sneakily tick this off the list…but as I was about to ‘talk to an advisor’ the baby started choking. (on a flipping battery).

5) Tape up the broken remote control so the baby can’t try to eat the batteries.

If this had been item one then I might have had more luck with other items on this list.

6) STOP feeding the children Smiley Faces.   

Whenever I open the freezer with every intention of making a healthy home-cooked dinner (that the kids will definitely NOT eat but I can feel good about myself for cooking). THEY ARE THERE. Beaming up at me. I would like to wipe the smile of their stupid, delicious faces. Eat me, they shout.  We are only potatoes. What is so bad about potatoes? Cook us with some frozen veg and fish fingers and you have a nutritious meal fit for a…baby.

They had me at potatoes.  Grinning little gits.

7) Take the baby to a baby group (to ensure she will not turn out to be a sociopath/socially inept/unable to perform all the moves to Wheels on the Bus). 

Every Wednesday the exciting Drink Tea and Talk About Babies While Stopping Your Baby Steal Toys Of Other Babies takes place in town.  I really should go along. Integrate with other mums in the community, talk baby food and breastfeeding… while mostly spending the entire time thinking stuff like:  Why is my baby is not sorting shapes yet?  That eleven month old just got the triangle in the correct hole TWICE.   My twelve-month-old is just licking the square. Must start doing more shape sorting. We are going to sort the hell out of some shapes when we get home, then we’ll come back and show that shape-sorting little swot a thing or two.   

I have been once. Not because it is boring (it is but I can handle a bit of boredom to ensure my baby doesn’t turn into non-shape sorting recluse) but because it is at 9.15am in the morning.  This is ridiculous.

Every week I attempt to get myself, The Baby and The Toddler all ready and out of the house by 9am.  Every week I fail.

8) Stop bribing the children with biscuits.

What was I thinking? Take away the biscuits, take away the power.

9) Wean the baby off the night feeds.  (Or rather, wean myself off using my boobs to get her to sleep/shut her up during the night). 

Well, I am still breastfeeding at night when required. I am too tired to give up my pacifying tools just yet.  Plus it means I can keep my C cups for a bit longer…

 10) GET ORGANISED.  Write a Things To Do List once a month so you stay on top of all the Things That Need Doing.  

As I said. I was a dick in January.    

So progress? NIL.   

Before I had children I had it all worked out.  I would look after the babies and do freelance work while James the Husband worked full time at his heavenly haven of hot coffee and adult conversation… sorry, I mean office.  It seemed like the ideal set up. I would write from home, get things done, maybe even finish my Great Novel, get more stuff done, all in the afternoons while the babies were having their naps.

Because babies took naps, right?  Long naps. All afternoon?  And parents use this time to catch up on sleep, have a cup of tea or to Get Things Done?

Turns out not all babies want to nap in the afternoon, or in the morning, or ever.

So, things didn’t quite go to plan… 

Instead, my life is a constant battle to get things done, get some sleep or get babies to sleep so I can get things done.  And when I am not trying to get things done, I am worrying about not getting things done.  I wish the Things would just piss off and leave me alone. I am tired. I am totally exhausted. Some days I barely have the energy to eat or wash my hair let alone to write a Great Novel or do a load of frigging THINGS.

So how do you Get Things Done when your babies won’t go to sleep or stay asleep or leave you the hell alone for five minutes? 

You don’t.

Although, I am starting to think that in the time it took me to write this list and then write about the list I could probably have done some of the things on the list.

* Since finishing this article the sock has finally been moved. I told James the Husband about my sideboard sock plight one night (yes our conversations are that riveting) and he simply picked up the sock and put it in the washing machine, like some kind of sock-moving expert.  (By the way, James the Husband is not a big sexist who believes sock moving is a woman’s job. He had either a) not even noticed the sock, b) had noticed the sock but assumed it was where the socks are kept now, or c) seen the sock but didn’t think it was a problem).      

However, there are now three other socks in its place so I am back to square one.


Check out my book that contains no baby sleep advice whatsoever… Just lots of laughs and stories about 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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59 thoughts on “How to get things done when your baby won’t sleep or leave you the hell alone for five f**king minutes

  1. So funny and so true! There are socks in varying stages of cleanliness scattered about the house. That makes it easier to get out the door because the baby has invariably pulled her own socks off and all I have to do is reach for whichever sock is nearest and put them on her. This and your GOTOSLEEP post had me laughing so hard. This is my second non-sleeping baby and it does make it easier to have something to laugh about and to know at 3:30 am someone else is up walking a baby back to sleep as well.

  2. Only just found this blog – been too sleep deprived to realise that the rest of the world is still out there! Now I am back at work part time I have rediscovered the wonder of the lunch break and can sit in peace and quiet and look at stuff on the internet, or even do THINGS! Like making phone calls and sending important emails. Wow. My son still doesn’t sleep much but twice last week he played by himself without injury or swallowing anything bad for long enough for me to do some dishes. Major breakthrough. I wish I’d found this blog sooner, it’s so good to feel that it’s not only me 🙂

    • Thanks so much. It always made me feel better to think there are other parents awake battling with their babies during the night too. Not sure why but it just does! Misery loves company i suppose! Well done on your breakthrough – but next time, sod the dishes and sit down!! x

  3. Once a week, when the oldest was about 9mths I used to go and play badminton at the local hall parking the buggy at the net with half a malt loaf to chew on … half a malt loaf would last a game.

  4. Very funny, this made me laugh… I have one and it is hard enough to get stuff done, not sure how you do anything with 3! Just survive I guess!

  5. It has taken me about a week to finish reading this (with a 23 month old and a 1 month old) , I think that says it all…

  6. It has taken me about a week to finish reading this (with a 23 month and 1 month old) , I think that says it all…

  7. When DS was about seven months old, I finally discovered a way of getting things 9like the washing up (or even on one occassion washing a floor), and such like) done, when he wouldn’t nap (he didn’t like nap sleeps- ok at night though) – stick him on my back in a carrier. It also turned out to be a great way to learn about back carrying him, without actually going out anywhere (and very confidence boosting, because being at home there was always a bed or chair handy (just in case of course I never dropped him getting him in or out, but when you start back carrying it builds ones confidence to take precautions).

    • That is a great idea! I tried a front carrier but found I still couldn’t do much but a back carrier would have probably worked! Good exercise too I imagine!

  8. Thank you so much for finding the time to write this, you had me laughing out loud so much tbe babies even shut up for 5 mins wonderjng what was the matter with me, seriously it’s like you are a fly on the wall in my house, cheered me up no end to know others are going tbrough exactly tne same!

  9. I have an answer for you: my mum was just up for the day. It turns out, when you have an extra pair of hands you can get back some semblance of control. Even the bedsheets were folded today. And my toddler loved having a new playmate, and my baby had someone else to throw up on. I had an afternoon nap. Amazing!

    • Ha yes I do not know what on earth I would do without my mum! Mine took a load of dirty washing the other day after being horrified that my washing pile covered the entire house!

  10. I can not believe I’ve just stumbled across your blog. It is so funny and so true.
    Point 9 is ME !!! OK I’ll admit I can do most things as I am Super Extra Organised Very Experienced mum of 3 (6, 3 and almost 1 yo) I cook from scratch every day and manage to do the washing … actually thinking of it I do the washing ALL the time I even iron the bloody things but night feeds are my weakness. I’ve tried to get my baby to sleep without it earlier tonight he screamed the place down and my 6 yo came down to tell me how irresponsible and awful mother I am and to get upstairs and feed the baby NOW !!! I did what he said. It was 10 pm and he has right to sleep. I don’t hence writing this @ 2 am when the washing is being done. Thank you for keeping us sane and putting into perspective all that hell we got ourselves into. They say it is worth it in the long run. Let’s keep running

    • thank you! Sounds like you have your hands full. I am not sure I would manage anything at all with three!
      Indeed, as tempting as it is sometimes to actually run away!

  11. My mother-in-law sent me a link to your blog and I first read this at 3am with a screaming 6-month-old next to me, having given up all hope of settling her. It made me laugh out loud in spite of everything. I am a self-employed public artist and mother of a 3-year-old lovely, but very determined, boy and a baby who is an angel by day and a devil by night, and I absolutely have days (and nights) when I think that I am just not cut out for this. There are moments when I don’t know how I’ll survive (like today when my toddler didn’t get to the toilet on time and I got a parking ticket whilst spending the best part of half an hour cleaning it up (because I was so sleep deprived that I’d completely forgotten to put money in the meter) when really what I should have been doing was writing that super important email that never got sent) and reading your blog has made me remember how important it is to just laugh about it all. It is so easy to think that this is what it’ll be like forever and get completely wound up worrying that you’re a dreadful parent. I reckon you’re right that really we need to all accept and admit that we’re not perfect, and laugh about our inadequateness. So thank you for making me regain the right perspective, and please keep blogging.

    • Thank you so much..and if it makes you feel any better I have days like that all the time! I think during these crazy times it is either laugh or cry. A lot!

  12. Oh thank you so much for giving me a much needed laugh (a oh yes I know that one kind of laugh!!)
    Was close to tears from a) laughing so much and b) being so frigging tired! Lol

  13. From the title I thought you were going to tell me the secret of the universe! I guess there’s no answer, and I’ve only got 1 baby!

    • Ha ha… Nope, i was hoping someone might be able to answer it for me? I am guessing you are not that person!!! Oh, i remember just one baby…I STILL not nothing done!

  14. The other day I got to the end of the day and realised there were actually not that many toys around any more, because they kids tend to concentrate on one thing (also, they have almost entirely given up licking batteries). I had one of those, “Oh! See, it *does* get less work!” moments.

    The only way I’d get housework done at one stage was the whirlwind. Set the timer for fifteen minutes (put on some riveting music first, or maybe even the TV) and then whirl around the house. The rule was to start somewhere and finish one job. Then wherever that job finished, you had to pick a second job and do that. There was no walking about looking for the next most important job – just whatever was closest.

    Ultimately, though, I caved and hired some house cleaning help. I had to take up a Saturday job to pay her wage and some people thought that was an odd sort of zero-sum game but you and I know it made total sense.

  15. But I still think it is a miracle, I mean how much one actually CAN get done with a baby, a toddler and without any sleep. I mean, you are still alive, aren’t you?! 😉 and you still have a sense of humor.

    I remember calling a friend when I realised, that I had actually vacuumed the whole house in one day for the first time (without any other adults present). You start to appreciate the small things…

    • Ha that is a much better way of looking at it! Not much is possible on two hours sleep a night. If I manage to get us all dressed and washed by 12 it should be considered a good day!

  16. I have taken to putting my nine month old baby son in tights for the exact reason that when they are removed and left somewhere random, maybe just maybe they will be in a pair and with some small chance reusable. ….!!! Also I had to laugh at myself as I lie here reading in my crazy state of a room aware of the many baskets of washing that have started a journey and are now somewhere near the machine. … all I could think about was…… hmmmm I hadn’t even thought about shape sorting. …. argh another thing to worry about! !!! From one sleep deprived mum to another, thanks for making me laugh today and feel a little less alone! Xx

    • Thanks for your comments! Ha tights are a good idea. My children do not even realise socks are meant to match. And currently my entire house is one big washing basket!

  17. Please, please, please write a book I promise I will buy it for myself and everyone I know! You write so well really it would be a crime if you did not write one! I realise the whole point of this is having no time! But seriously ignore the kids it will be fine?!

  18. My daughter never seems to sleep so I’m glad others have this problem at the moment I use a baby carrier fasten her to my chest whilst I clean and breastfeed haha must be mental thinking cleaning is that important ….. The carrier should be binned xx

  19. lol!! thats brilliant, dont make a to do list cos you just slate yourself for not achieving it, write a Done list at the end of the day of all the stuff you did that day, specially ducking batteries and nappy changing etc

  20. I have a laundry basket full of “things to be done” that has been there for 2 months. It shortens the to-do list to “empty the laundry basket”, but sadly gets me no closer to actually getting anything done. also have a toddler and a baby who seems to be allergic to sleep. but I found the time to read your blog and LOVED IT! thank you for the laughs!

    • Thanks! Glad it is not just me! And I do most of my reading while lying with the baby on me waiting for her to be in deep enough to do the cot transfer. I am guessing this is the same for you!

  21. Oh thank you. I laughed out loud three times. It’s not just me then in this situation of never achieving anything.

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