I think there is one universal truth about becoming a parent… You will never get a good nights sleep again.
Yeah, you heard me right; Never. Never ever. You give up your right to sleep the moment the lines appear on that test. Life from that point is basically just a blur of late nights, early mornings and broken sleep.
Ok, so maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit. But honestly? Not much. My children are eight and nine now, and I’m still severely sleep deprived. I remember those sleepless baby days, where I’d pace the living room in the middle of the night while feeding, because I knew if I sat down I’d fall asleep. I told myself ‘This will pass”. I’m still waiting…
For me, the lack of sleep started in pregnancy. I could not get comfortable in any damn position. Pregnancy can be cruel like that. You are tired because you are growing life inside you, but you can’t sleep. It turns out to be good preparation for what is to come: The baby days. We all know how awful they are when it comes to night time. Sleep becomes a major point of conversation. Baby group is basically just a bunch of tired parents sitting around talking about how tired they are while cooing over how beautiful their babies are. “I haven’t slept a whole night through for three months” is met with many a nod of solidarity. Yes mate, I know how that feels. Some mum pipes up with the holy grail… “My baby slept through for the first time last night”, and everyone pounces, wanting to know her secret.
Then come the toddler/ preschool years. Your children probably still won’t sleep through the night, but now they can walk. You will be woken in the night by children climbing in to bed. You may even be woken in the night by your creepy child standing at the side of the bed staring at you. I spent almost all of this period co sleeping with at least one, but often both of my children. Not intentionally, but when a child is climbing in to your bed at 3am, it’s sometimes the easiest thing. Top tip, buy a kingsize bed. Toddlers take up a lot of room.
Things tend to get a bit easier once the kids start school, just a bit mind. They probably won’t wake you up as much now, but don’t let that fool you in to thinking you’ll get a good sleep. You’re a parent after all. You’ll still wake at every cough, sneeze, or any hint that someone is going to be sick. You’ll still go to bed late because you forgot to put uniform in the machine. Or you will binge watch a show on Netflix while the kids are sleeping because it’s the only time you get peace to watch, but next thing you know it’s 3am and you realise you’re gonna be like an extra from the walking dead the next day. Or your darling children will wake you up ‘sneaking’* downstairs to get their iPad when they wake up at 5am.
*stomping, children can’t actually sneak.
So what can you do about it? Not much, really. Welcome your new friend coffee in to your life with open arms. Buy a good mattress so that when you do go to sleep you are actually comfortable. I mean, if you only get three hours you want those three hours to be good, right? You don’t have to spend loads either, check out Groupon for a new mattress deal, you should be able to pick one up quite cheap. Put blackout blinds in every room, because the sun is not your friend, not when you are trying to sleep. Other than that, just accept this as your reality now, and know you aren’t alone. We’re right here beside you man!
** Post written in collaboration with Groupon.