Our Sleep Story | What Not To Say To A Sleep Deprived Parent

When you haven’t had a full nights sleep in over a year, there are times where you feel like committing murder and going to prison is a healthy alternative to another day of pushing through the sleep deprivation.

It doesn’t help when people let words tumble out of their (well rested, usually) mouths without thinking.

“Is baby sleeping through yet?”

Obviously. I look like I’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards, and my eyes have more bags than an EasyJet baggage hold — I think it’s obvious that he hasn’t slept through yet.

Sadly, I was getting this question weeks after Baby Button arrived, which was quite an amount of pressure considering I’d just had a tiny person removed from my tummy. Give me a minute to process being a parent before asking me about his sleeping through please — although in some baby groups, sleeping through is a badge of honour so this question is asked more often than you think.

“You look exhausted!”

Thanks for that.

Just what I need is someone telling me I look ‘exhausted’ (which is a nice way of saying ‘you look like crap!’) when I’m forcing myself out into the world to socialise myself and my baby. Self esteem is already pretty bedraggled due to the post-baby body, sleep deprivation and hormones — don’t comment on a Mum’s appearance. Or a Dad’s appearance for that matter, they’re going through a lot of changes too.

“He won’t be a baby forever, make the most of it.”

This was cute for the first few weeks. Twelve months down the line, it has worn very thin. He might not be a baby forever, but when you haven’t had an undisturbed nights sleep in over a year forever is relative.

“My baby has always slept through, I’m just lucky.”

This is the worst!

I’m pretty sure not everyone tells the truth when they talk about their baby sleeping through. Sleeping through is seen as a huge positive, something great, yay your baby! It gets a much better response than ‘oh he was up three times instead of five’ from a bleary eyed Mum. Interestingly, when a parent tells you their baby has slept through they often interject with ‘I went in a few times to rub his/her back’ or ‘they stirred a bit but dream feeding helped’.

Slept though, eh?

“Don’t let him sleep during the day.”

Have you tried keeping a tiny person who’s angry, tired and hates the world awake?

This doesn’t work, sometimes babies sleep better after having a nap during the day. It all depends on the baby, and while I’ve never fought BB on having a nap at some point in the day, I try keep him awake after 2pm otherwise he’s generally awake at 10pm at night — when he’s up between 4/5am it isn’t a great mix.

“Just sleep when the baby sleeps.”

And when do you expect me to tidy, cook, live, be an adult?

I love my baby more than life itself, but sometimes I need a break to watch a stupid movie with Mike or play Elder Scrolls Online. Not to mention keeping up with the blog too — I’ve done my best over he last year to update but some days I can’t even open my laptop due to being so tired. So napping when he does isn’t always viable, for professional or recreational reasons… I might be a Mum but I need a life too.

“So you still breastfeed him to sleep? You’re making a rod for your own back!”

I hate that phrase.

If you have a bad sleeper, you do whatever you humanly can to try and get them to sleep — rocking for hours on end, breastfeeding, singing.. Whatever works for your family. People who have chastised me for breastfeeding BB to sleep often mention going for a walk with their child in the pram to get them to sleep, or going for a drive — that’s the same thing isn’t it? Except you don’t use your boob!

“Doesn’t his Dad help?”

I get this a lot.

When baby feeds to sleep, it’s hard for a Dad to help as much. Mike also works full time, sometimes over twelve hours or more a day — I think it’s only fair he gets the lions share of the sleep in our family.

“But you’re a stay at home Mum, it doesn’t matter if you can’t sleep. You don’t need to get up to go to work!”

Yes, I’m a stay at home Mum.

That means I’m on call twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. It means I often have shifts that vary from 10 hours to 23 hours a day, with no holidays or annual leave. I don’t get paid, there’s no job description and I don’t have an annual review to let me know if I’m doing a good job.

I sometimes wish I worked just so I get to have a conversation with an adult sometimes, but then.. I’ve always regarded my status as a stay at home Mum as a blessing. Not everyone gets the opportunity to do what I do, and although we’ve made sacrifices for me to be able to stay with BB I wouldn’t change a thing.

“Have you tried to ‘cry it out’?”

This might have worked for you, a friend, or your parents — but it just doesn’t sit right with me, and that’s that.

Parenting is done by millions of people, all different. Cry it out is always the default option I get told about, and every time I have to politely explain about my feelings about the method and how I won’t be following it with BB. Now, ‘cry it out’ and ‘sleep coaching’ are very different and shouldn’t be confused. A gentle sleep coaching programme I’d possibly give a try, but only when BB is settled and not teething/full of cold/recovering from vaccinations.

“Well, you wanted a baby!”

I also want a million pounds, a holiday at Disney and someone who doesn’t say stupid things to me when I need a nap. Thanks.

Have you read the previous post in this series? It’s all about the worst advice I’ve had regarding sleeping through.

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