Parental sleep deprivation is a thing, I’m sure of it. In fact, I’m so sure that I’ve set out the five stages below. It won’t help you to feel less tired, but at least you know what you’re in for. That, and you’re not alone!
As a new parent, you are likely to have received the well-meaning advice to “sleep when the baby sleeps”. Regardless of whether or not this is possible, you’re probably still tired. VERY tired. So tired that you are in a constant state of brain fog wondering if you’ll ever sleep again. Welcome to the joyous cycle of parental sleep deprivation:
You’ve survived all-nighters in the past and been able to hold down study/work/life, no problem. This parenting malarkey can’t be any worse than that, surely? So, you haven’t had a full nights sleep in six weeks (months?) but you can totally boss this. You just need to pull up your extra large maternity pants and get on with it.
OK, so maybe this isn’t quite the same as those party days of old. But you can survive this. You just need to consume two Mars bars, a slice of cake and six pints of full-of-sugar-fizzy-pop a day to be able to function normally. If you are the proud owner of a young human over the ago of one, then these items will be inhaled. Whilst hiding your head in the kitchen cupboard. Simultaneously shouting at them to eat their tasty snack of carrot sticks.
Excessive sugar consumption means that you are totally rocking this parenting business. Well, surviving anyway. That is, as long as no-one expects to have a conversation with you. Your head is in a constant fog.
You stop halfway through each sentence. Resort to replacing every other word with “you know, whats-it-called?” Forget what you were talking about and quickly change the subject. Eventually, you give up altogether and just nod and smile in the hope that no-one notices.
You are sure your husband/wife/the dog has had more sleep than you. They deserve to be punished in the form of loud stomping around whenever you have to get out of bed to feed the baby/wipe the toddler’s nose/have a wee because your pelvic floor has gone to pot. You may resort to turning lights on, heavy sighs and giving them a poke with your foot if the noise fails to rouse them. If they dare to complain about being tired, you shout “NOT AS TIRED AS ME” and spend the day fuming at their audacity whilst simultaneously Googling local hotels to see if you could escape for a full nights’ sleep.
You realise that this is the way your life will be for the next eighteen years, since babies are replaced with toddlers. Which will grow into teenagers. And you’ll definitely have to stay awake to worry about them. You manage to have three hours’ sleep in a row one night and feel positively revitalised the next day.
You can totally boss this! Now, where’s that cake again…