What not to say to a sleep deprived parent

  • What not to say to a sleep deprived parent


    Lately I’ve noticed that there seems to be a common perception amongst parents whose babies know how to sleep, that parents whose babies don’t sleep are, well, insane.

    And here’s the thing. As a parent who has endured now 14 months of sleep deprivation and 3 visits to sleep school I’d just like to tell you that chances are, well, we are.


    And so what I’m noticing is this divide between parents who may have had the odd sleepless night due to illness, teething, separation anxiety and the like and parents who’s little ones just don’t seem to understand the concept of sleep.


    To help clear things up for everyone and to ease some of the tension that may be brewing amongst your friends or your parents group or your online networks, I have created a list of what not to say to your sleep deprived friends:


    1. You just need to listen to your baby and do what’s right by them.

    Nope. Tried that. Turns out what’s right for my baby is being cuddled, upright with his head on my shoulder while I prance around the room all night. And as he dozes off in to his beautiful baby dreamland and I gently, quietly transition him to his bed he screams bloody murder until I return him to the aforementioned position.
    Sometimes what’s right for baby, makes mummy go nutso.


    2. You can’t expect your baby to sleep for 12 hours straight and the sooner you let that expectation you go, the better off you’ll be!

    Hold up. When did we say anything about 12 hours sleep. A 4 hour block of sleep would be bliss!


    3. Wait til number 2, you won’t even be able to think about sleep you’ll be so busy!

    At this rate, we don’t have the energy to think about numero 2, let alone conceive it.


    4. Just try not to overthink it!

    Good point. So when I’m wide awake between 2am and 4am, instead of thinking about why I’m awake and how much I’d rather be asleep, I’ll just think about daffodils and daisies and all will be fine. (Sorry, this ones a bit sarcastic, but those that have spent those hours awake on a regular basis know that it's pretty tough to do anything but think of sweet, sweet sleep)


    5. Have you tried (blanky, night light, patting, rocking, shushing, music, making the room darker, put them to bed later, earlier, change their bedtime routine,  etc)?

    Yes. We’ve also tried Richard Mercer’s love song dedications and sleeping with an old tshirt that reeks of me and EVERYTHING in between. The only thing we’re yet to try is sleeping pills but trust me, they’ve been considered.


    6. I hears ya, my 7 year old still doesn’t sleep through the night

    Don’t. Just don’t.


    7. The baby can sense your anxiety

    Great, my infant doesn’t know that if he closes his eyes he’ll have an instant remedy for his manic overtiredness but the clever little bugger can smell fear.


    8. I’d just let them cry it out, but that’s just me.

    Oh we’ve tried letting him cry…he just doesn’t get the “it out” part.


    9. Any baby can sleep through the night. It’s up to the parent.

    Oooh thems fighting words! 


    10. My baby is such a good sleeper. But I think it’s because I……

    Because you what? Have a more soothing womb that promoted sleep in your belly?


    11. Gosh, my baby woke at 6.30am this morning. I’m so tired!

    No, you’re not.


    To those of you who have offered me advice over the past year or so, I truly do thank you and I understand that you’ve only ever tried to help. I also understand that in hindsight your advice would probably have worked for much of the time.

    Unfortunately, when one is sleep deprived, there’s not much that can be said other than this:


    “You must be exhausted. Do you want me to mind baby for a couple of hours so you can have a nap?”


    "I have some phenergan in my handbag"


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  • Jen S
    Jen S You have my sympathy!
    I can relate to this right about now. My son used to be an amazing 12-hour sleeper, but then he got sick. And has been waking every.45.minutes since. And taking an hour or more to settle once more. And not napping. At all. And...  more
    3 January 2014
  • Stacey A
    Stacey A Oh Jen...that is the worst!! Gosh I hope it's just a phase...how long has it been like that?
    4 January 2014
  • Gisele G
    Gisele G Or my personal fave - "but you wanted this". Excuse me? I wanted 100% no sleep, every night for the entire duration of his life? Nope, I don't recall ever "wanting" that!
    7 January 2014
  • Jen S
    Jen S Hi Stacey, fortunately it was only a fortnight while he was ill, but I think every minute of that fortnight is etched into the back of my eyeballs! I feel for every sleep deprived parent out there. (For the record, the Brauer's homeopathic sleep stuff i...  more
    7 January 2014