How to get some kip with kids.
If you’ve just had your first baby, you’ve spent the last six months batting off patronising comments about how knackering it is. I mean, how hard can it be? In your party days you went to the office on a comedown after 17 minutes sleep on the night bus. You’ve got this.
And then you take your baby home, and sure, it’s knackering. And you are up every hour at least. But you’d expected that, and it’s fine, and the first smiles make everything worth it.
But then about 4 months in, you can’t remember the last time you slept for longer than 2 hours consecutively. The Touche Eclat just highlights the eye-bags rather than hiding them. You lose your shit at the self-checkout (there is NOT an unidentified item in the bagging area you stupid, stupid machine, now sell me my bloody Kit Kat before I scream), and you cry because you can’t remember the last time you didn’t feel like a zombie. I cried once because I couldn’t find my mobile. It was in the fridge. With my wallet. We had no milk but I had a chilled credit card.
This extreme parental tiredness hits at the same time as the 4 month sleep regression. Then they have a few weeks of teething (whilst producing zero teeth). 6 months is weaning, which somehow disturbs their sleep despite Aunty May telling you that putting a rusk in his milk and giving him “proper” meals would help him sleep thru the night. Screw you Aunty May, but I’m too knackered to take pleasure in being right (and smugly obeying NHS guidelines…). They they get a cold / chicken pox / tummy ache, or even worse you get this too, and sleep remains bastardingly elusive.
My only advice during this tempestuous year(ish, mayble longer) of no sleep, is to hold tight to the thought that one day, it will ease. It does, I promise. Sure, 5am becomes the new normal wake up time, and you go to bed at 9pm thereby always missing the finale of The Missing / Broadchurch / Catastrophe so some plonker can ruin it for you on social media the next day. But it makes such a difference to get some sleep. Your skin is better, your mood (and therefore your relationship) is lifted, and you madly start to think about creating a sibling for little Johnny. Perhaps second time round you’ll remember the following advice:
· Sleep while the baby sleeps. Yes I know this is a clichéd horror, but actually I did it with number 2 and ignored the washing pile, the to-do list, and the baby sensory class. I knew he was my last baby and the sleepy sofa snuggles were so very precious. And I felt so much better for a nap. Even in dirty clothes.
· Let that gorgeous bundle sleep on you. It’s not habit-forming, you're still their home for goodness sake. You are absolutely not making a rod for your own back. (Find a rod with which to belt anyone who tells you that.)
· Co-sleeping is not the devil's work, providing you follow the guidelines. It saved me from having to get out of bed in the winter months. It allowed me to breastfeed on a nest of pillows in the warm. And it allowed my husband to bugger off into the spare room and get some decent zzzzs so at least one of us could function in the daytime hours.
· Take help. I rant about this all the time. Us clever, clever new parents, so used to owning it in the boardroom, smashing targets, beating deadlines and winning pitches, find it very hard to ask for help. After two children, I’m delighted when someone offers to babysit / make tea / drop in a cake. I’m not proud and I’m sure to return the favour. (A special shout out to the neighbour who delivered a negroni every night my husband was away recently. That's how to support a knackered parent.)
And when they are a bit older, and want to sleep in your bed, or steal your duvet, or make you “Wait for the sun together, Mummy” (that BLOODY Groclock, but it does work…) remember that you are getting more kip now than a few years ago, and drop a cake (or a cocktail) in to a new mum.