As a parent-to-be everyone tells you that babies just aren’t that keen on giving you eight blissful and uninterrupted hours of sleep, but no one explains just how exhausting this whole parenting thing is.
Surely no one in history has ever survived on this little sleep before?
So here are five things to tell yourself when it’s 4am and you are propping your eyelids open with matchsticks again.
1. Do not let yourself get stressed.
We know it can be so easy to get wound up, you’re already exhausted and this evening really feels like the final straw. But child psychologist, Amanda Gummer, from Fundamentally Children told The Huffington Post UK that parental stress can transfer to your child and make it worse.
“Sometimes, parental stress about an issue can inadvertently exacerbate that issue so the most important thing to do is develop coping strategies that help you manage and trust that this will sort itself out eventually,” says Gummer.
2. Remember you are not alone.
You are not the first parent ever to have gone through this, and you certainly won’t be the last.
Remember that coffee is your friend and all the parents around you are probably functioning on two broken hours of sleep too.
Support each other and don’t judge when everyone around you is a zombie.
3. Know that this isn’t a forever state.
Although it feels like you can’t remember the last morning you got out of bed and actually felt well rested, this isn’t for the rest of your life, Gummer says: “One of the best strategies I know of with things like this is to put a note in your diary for three or six months ahead [to check in with their sleep progress] and then try and stop worrying about it.”
A little milestone like this can help you to remember the progress that your child is making, baby steps are what this is all about.
4. Praise the internet.
God bless Facebook, Instagram and the hundreds of TV channels at our disposal (even if they are the shopping channel).
Just pity our poor parents and grandparents who had to deal with sleepless nights with nothing to distract them from the endless tears.
5. Follow your gut instinct.
As with all aspects of parenting, you know best. If you think that your child is going beyond their usual sleepless nights, and in a downward spiral, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.
“Do what feels right and if, when you get to the date of the note in the diary it’s still a problem, consider asking for more professional help,” says Gummer.