Monday, 24 March 2014

Sleep Deprivation

Every parent will tell you that there are phases in life where you simply get very little or no sleep.  This is the point where you wonder what an earth you did, pre kids, with all of that time.  You wonder how you managed a night out, then a lie in, perhaps surfacing just before lunch – and you marvel at how you wasted time.  Of course, it goes in phases.  You breathe a sigh of relief having gone through one phase, learn to sleep again and wallop – it hits you again and again.  And you are always surprised when it happens.  One of my cousins told me of her Nan, who on her 97th birthday, and with dementia, sat surrounded by her kids, grandkids and great grandkids with a bemused expression on her face.  It was an idyllic picture as the kids rolled round at her feet.  Someone asked her what she was thinking.  She said in bewilderment ‘Someone told me that I had five kids.  I have no idea why – can’t stand ‘em’.

Perhaps if we were more prepared, then our bodies wouldn’t go into shock.  So I have attempted to put together a little list.  Feel free to add more (if you can stay awake)…


No-one can work out the machinations of a newborn.  It doesn’t seem to matter how good you were as a baby carrier for 9 months, as soon as that little red bundle is handed to you, it literally has a life of its own – and a mind of its own.  Despite what all the books and kindly advice says, that baby will sleep when you don’t want it to, and wake when you do.  You spend the first two months see sawing in dizziness from night to day, your washing pile of muslins pile up, not because they are dirty, but because  a) you can’t work out what you are supposed to be using them for, but every bit of advice says to use them, and so you carry them around with you and lose them in every room, and when you find them you can’t remember what you used them for and so to be on the safe side you stick them in the wash and b) it gives you something to do when you wander around in a daze at 3.30 in the morning with aching milk filled boobs because every night since you remembered you have been woken up at that hour, but this is the one time that Baby has decided to sleep through…


So Baby has got into a routine and you have become a Smug Mummy.  Not only have you lost a little of your pregnancy weight due to breastfeeding (yeah right, like that ever really happens), but your baby has now reached that milestone in good parenting – sleeping through the night.  And then all hell breaks loose – your little sleeping angel turns into a gurning, red cheeked drooling devil with a voice that penetrates walls.  Teething.  Cold raw carrots, hard biscuits, chew toys – nothing seems to alleviate your darlings distress, except of course, your finger.  That seems to work.  And as your wail joins theirs, no one sleeps.


Young or old, when sickness (often accompanied by diarrohea) hits the household, no one sleeps.  You pass the days in a hazy fug of washing piles, scrubbing piles, and sick buckets.  Every sheet in the house is just not enough.  Your well intentioned desire to keep an eye on your child by inviting them into your bed means that you sleep not a wink as they toss and turn and snuffle and barf. By the time they have sprung into life again, full of the joys that school insists that they take 48 hours off after being sick, you feel as energetic as the wet rags you have been using to mop their fevered brow.  And then you go down with it.


Your child comes back with tales of friendship woes.  You listen, soothe, teach them coping mechanisms.  They go to bed happy.  You lie in bed worrying.  This will happen in recurrent cycles throughout their lives.  I suspect that this never ends.  Enjoy…


The time when you stay up to collect your teenage kid from a party – so you can’t sleep, in case you miss the deadline you set.  Or even worse, you’ve set the deadline, but someone else is delivering them back, and so you can’t sleep, in case they are late. The most you can do is fall into a half sleep on the sofa.  This means that you wake up with a cricked neck.  Not ideal, as you greet your testosterone fuelled child with your head to one side and squinty eyes a la Columbo. 

I have yet to discover the later stages with my kids – but I suspect that they go something like this:

Parties – you lie awake on your romantic weekend away with your husband, and as he snores in blessed unbroken sleep in your pretty B&B, you are wondering if the kids are having a party (yes) and how trashed your house will be (very).

Weddings – oof, when is the best time to tell your child that you really don’t like their choice of partner?

Grandkids- OMG, it starts all over again…

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