My kids wake a lot. I breed non sleepers – of the extreme kind. My 4 year old barely makes it 2-3 hours before his first get up. My 14 month old wakes constantly. Fitbit tells me I average 15-25 get ups a night between them and about 4 hours of broken sleep – on a good night, waaah.
I walk around like the standard ‘mombie’, forgetting things, feeling nauseated, with headaches. Just trying to survive as best I can. At work today I felt I had to mention how tired I was because I wanted people to know that this wasn’t my A game. Big mistake. Several people near me all told me how amazingly their kids had slept (all grown up now), ranging from sleeping through from 6 weeks to 6 months. It made me want to cry from a mixture of feeling isolated and like a failure of a mother – that’s the other thing about sleep deprivation, it makes you emotional too.
I’ve said this before but why do people do this??! I’m clearly having a hard time over here and you are showing zero empathy or sensitivity. It’s become some a culturally embedded stock statement – so the chronically sleep deprived have to suffer in silence or face these kind of responses – that may drive us to stab someone in the eye with a spoon.
It’s not just the occasional person either, I’d say 95% of people respond to a complaint of sleep deprivation by telling me how great their kids sleep or slept in comparison. It’s the same for all of the people I know who have shitty sleepers. It’s a commonly lamented bitch fest of ours.
If someone says ‘oh I’m dieting so hard but can’t lose weight’ you don’t say ‘oh I’ve got a great figure, always have, never needed to diet, watch me eat this great fecking mars bar’. Or someone says ‘we are really broke, I’m struggling to pay my bills or heat my home’, you don’t say ‘oh we’ve always been well off, I’ve so much spare cash I can’t even spend it, I just use my twenty pound notes to wipe my arse’.
My 4 year old just had a Playdate with a 3 year old and they picked some flowers, my son dropped his flower and the 3 year old said ‘well I’ve got 2 flowers still’ and my 4 year old cried. I thought that’s it right there, what people say to each other in the ‘I’m so lucky my kid sleeps’ drivel is at a 3 year olds level of sensitivity. Fucking stop it already. Haven’t you struggled with something before?!
Of course what it means is you can’t mention your struggle. Even if you are so tired your eyes are watering, you feel nauseated and you are unsafe to drive. You can’t mention it because then you get the ‘I was so lucky, my kid slept 12 hours a night from 6 weeks’ and you have to use what tiny dreg of energy you have left to not throttle them.
And there is the other side of it, which is ‘you aren’t doing it right’. If you did what we did (sleep training, CIO, controlled crying, bought a Sleepyhead, nightlight etc) then your baby would sleep too and if you don’t do it then you have no right to mention you feel tired. Which is an incredibly arrogant line of thought really – to assume what works for you would work for every baby and that each parent doesn’t know what’s best for their child, which they inevitably always do.
So lads and lasses, please stop telling sleep deprived parents how good your kid sleeps. I haven’t had a full night of sleep for nearly 5 years and I’m liable to flick the next person to do so in the throat.
Things you can say instead;
- Here is some wine, let me watch your feral children while you go drink it in the bath
- Want me to watch your kids while you take a nap?
- You look faaahhbulous considering you haven’t slept since 2011
- You are doing a great job, your kids are clearly thriving
- Your babies clearly love spending time with you and just don’t want to miss a minute
- A bad night hasn’t killed you yet, you’ve survived 100% so far and you’ll survive the rest
- You won’t regret a single minute you spent hugging your babies in the night
My sister is a shining example of how to deal with a sleep deprived parent when you have a magic unicorn sleeping baby – she didn’t humble-brag, she packed my son up and hosted a sleep over so we could catch up on some Zs. She said ‘I’m not tired, I can handle a night of not sleeping for you’ and we were very grateful for it. Now that folks, is how it’s done!