After reading  all of the lists of tips for sleep-deprived parents on the entire internet, (including Ten Ways To Tell You Are Sleep Deprived – der, 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 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.

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. WINE/CHOCOLATE. I am not sure why drowning your sorrows and comfort eating get such a bad press… I am definitely NOT encouraging binge drinking/eating – but I find a little well-deserved treat 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, just for you, here is my favourite slow cooker recipe (you can have this Jack Monroe):


Chopped up savoury edible stuff and stock.

-Put in slow cooker and turn on.

-Open slow cooker at dinner time and you have an actual home-cooked meal that does not contain Fish Fingers.

-Enjoy feeling like a brilliant mother (for about five minutes until the kids demand Fish Fingers).

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.

Please add any of your own survival in the comment box below and help your fellow sleep thief ‘victims’!

Feel free to join me and other sleep-deprived parents for a chat on Facebook or Twitter.

29 thoughts on “SURVIVAL GUIDE

  1. I love your site. My son stole 2 months of sleep from me and my wife. Then we realised that he was “different” and would not go to sleep looking at the ceiling. So I walk him to sleep whenever I can and he’s latched onto my wife for the entire night. We get judged by all the other parents we know but I don’t give a fuck. I’ve lost weight walking and my baby has found it with his all night feeds. Turning point was when we conceded defeat and stopped trying to do it properly. I love it!

    • Thanks you! Sounds like the approach we took! The one thing worse than the lack of sleep was actually WORRYING about the lack of sleep and whether we are doing the whole baby thing wrong! Once we accepted this was how it was going to be – things actually seemed a lot easier!

  2. I am also soo glad I found this site. I have finally stopped blaming myself for the last 2 years of sleep deprivation. Our no 2 didn’t sleep until age 3 which was tough especially being at work with no 1 to look after! She was such a challenging child day and night…then no 3 came along…unplanned but the ‘perfect’ baby! Or so we thought! Hes now nearly 3 and has not slept since was 8 mths. Not fun with a ft job and 2 others to look after. I usually sleep with him as he wakes soo much there’s no point in going in and out all night. It’s all about survival and I just ignore things that aren’t important anymore (mainly housework! ). Yes I let him watch tv as I can dose next to him.
    .I have little energy but I will not let it beat me or define my life. Good luck everyone!

    • Thanl you. Bloody hell. How do you do it!? You are one inspiring lady. Two sleep haters and working from home nearly killed me. Hope you realise how strong you are!

  3. love your website!! My son was born nearly 4 years ago. We tried everything to get my son to sleep. Even employed a sleep consultant and the Dr gave us sedatives to re set his body clock as he wasn’t sleeping at all. Nothing worked!! My daughter came along 3 months ago. We definitely did not make the same mistakes we did with my son! We ignored all advice and did not read any books. She is fed on demand, held till she falls asleep, put down asleep and she sleeps with me when all else fails! As for my son he is nearly 4 and my husband sleeps with him. We have created many rods for our own back but hey they sleep!!!

  4. Thank you thank you thank you! It’s always good to feel you’re not alone.
    My oldest was pretty normal at sleeping: he woke sometimes and we did feel tired but it was never horrendous. We went with the flow, made it up as we were going on and never read a single parenting book.
    Then when my daughter came along we were properly making it up, trying to juggle two! Somehow she started sleeping through from about 5wks. We didn’t know what we’d done but felt we must just have got lucky with a sleeper thst you sometimes hear about. But then at 6 months she decided she had stocked up on enough sleep to last at least a year! She woke all the time and we ended up letting her share our bed which – as we all know – does not really mean you get to sleep at last even if the baby does!!!
    So when (also some kind of immaculate conception lol!) no3 came along and started sleeping through from about 8wks we knew to make the most of it! So for about 4 months we had blissful relatively uninterrupted sleep (ok so wewere up at 5:30 most days as our oldest starts the day at sstupid o’clock but it’s amazing what u come to think of as good sleep!) But this time we knew to make the most of it! And sure enough, our beautiful baby turned into a sleep thief like his sister at about 6 months so our bed is no longer our own again. And no2 has started joining in in the early hours too…
    Quite a lengthy rant and I know many of you have it much worse but I too have had enough of all the advice. Especially when it implies that I’ve done it before so should know how to get them to sleep like I did with no1! I must have thought life was too easy…..!
    What experience has taught me though is that it’s not forever so hang in there!

  5. My SIL and I have babies 2 weeks apart. Hers is a sleeper (through the night from 2 weeks), mine thinks sleep is for the weak and simple minded and would like to NEVER sleep cause that would mean her little puny fingers weren’t touching (or poking or gouging) her mummy.
    Every piece of advice I’m given makes me mentally bitch slap her every single time.
    When her bub was teething and woke up twice in the night for 2 whole days she told me how exhausted she was, that made me actually want to slap her.

    God I’m glad I’m not alone

    • Ha sister and I had babies at the same time – hers was the magical sleeping kind and mine was not! I love my sister but I know how you feel. However, she had a really difficult birth and pregnancy and I didn’t. So I think every baby brings a different challenge!

  6. You don’t know how relieved I am to know I’m not the only one who’s been doing the same load of washing for three weeks (or thereabouts).

    My first sleep thief was just starting to sort the sleep thing out when along came the second. Indeed, I’m not even sure how we managed to get the second, considering the first never slept, but we must have, at some point, because she’s here and starting to stir even as type this and ooh, what does sleep feel like again…?

    Awesome site.

  7. I was always told that, because my number 1 son was a certified sleep thief until about 3 years old (and still makes an appearance at least once a night now at 4 and a half), number 2 would sleep beautifully for me. I couldn’t possibly have another one. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha…!!! But at least 6 months in this time round I know it won’t be forever and am definitely surviving on acceptance and a lot of co-sleeping. Because it won’t be forever. Surely? Will it?! Better get a bigger bed!

  8. I am the mother of nine, the youngest is now 13 Sleep deprivation was second only to sick kids as the worst part of parenting. And of course illnesses and sleeplessness are two evil twins. Please cut yourself some breaks.. Being a supermom does not always equate with having super kids…..and you already know you have the smartest,cutest child in the world anyway.

  9. I’m so realived to find someone else who has really been there. So many people say they know how hard sleep deprivation is because their precious newborn woke up twice a night until finally sleeping thru at 2 months old. Not in this sleep thief household! Eldest finally responded to semi sleep training at 18 months. Youngest arrived 4 months later. You are so right. It actually can get much harder. Youngest steals sleep in totally different ways that we never expected. He is now 17 months and still waking 3 to 4 times a night. If we dose him with advil we can usually finally avoid the hour or more awakeathon in the wee hours. They are both wonderful little people, but I am so tired. And so tired of the endless advice indicating my kids would sleep if I were only a competent mom. And yup, I’ve read those books. I’d have been better off spending that time sleeping. Thank you. I feel less like a failure today!

    • Ha thank you! Failure is definitely not a word i would use to describe a sleep-deprived parent! Sounds a bit like my situation. Both my babies refused sleep but both responded to different things, so it was no easier. Good luck my friend! I hope you get some sleep soon.

  10. This actually made me laugh then fist punch the air with solidarity to all REAL sleep deprived mums!
    I’ve accepted it and now celebrate getting a full hour when it happens. My girls are 5.5 years and 6.5 months and it’s been known that BOTH are in my bed star fishing while I precariously teeter on the edge of the mattress knowing that at any point in the night I may just nod off for five minutes and then lose my expert balance resulting in me falling onto the floor, and waking up again!
    I hasten to add Daddy sleeps through the entire performance then complains of being tired after his lye in! lol xx

    • It is funny how little space you learn to sleep in. And in such discomfort! My littlest kicks me and pulls my hair at regular intervals but i occasionally manage an hour or two on the edge of the bed…

  11. Hahahhaa , this actually feels so good to read I am not the only one – my sleep thief turns 11 months in a week – Is it so exhausting sometimes I cry – and then I look at him he smiles and I actually forget that he wakes me up 5/6/7 times per night and that sleep deprivation is used as a torture method in some country ….now I know why …

  12. I kind of wish there was a badge I could wear that said “Sleep Thief Survivor”, because it’s by far the longest and most protracted torture there is. I might get a tattoo. Seriously.
    Shall we all get a tattoo?

  13. My little one started sleeping through at 6 months until about 18 months. Then the fun started! “Mommy and Daddy’s bed is more comfortable than mine”, so she too, “sleeps” in our bed, on my side and climbs onto, over, under, pulls and does everything but sleep in our bed. This post definitely made me feel better, that We are not alone, and the sleep thief definitely has a 1-up at the moment!

    • Ha sounds like she lulled you in to a false sense of security… Classic sleep thief technique! Always good to hear from a fellow ‘victim’. Hope you get some sleep soon..ish

  14. I have now had 5 years of sleep deprivation and the younger child will be three in under a month and will only sleep in OUR bed, on MY side. Which is why I am here writing a comment on your blog and now tucked up cosy in my own bed soundly sleeping! I may resort to sleeping in her bunk bed under a peppa pig duvet, fighting for space with 5,000 stuffed toys whilst the cats nudge, paw and miow at me to remind me this is not my bed…….nite nite 🙂

    • Five years?! That is tough going…my youngest also likes our bed..on my side..but even then she either grabs my hair or clambers on top of me at regular intervals! The bigger she gets the more uncomfortable it gets. Hope you got some sleep…

  15. lol that actually made me feel better. means i am not the only one. have 14 months old who well hate sleeping, he can and i know he can but he just doesnt want to. guess you just have to get used to it.

Feel free to leave a reply..misery loves company.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.