The phrase "Sleep like a baby" should be outlawed in my opinion and anyone who dares utter it in the company of a sleep-deprived parent should be forced to babysit at least one night a month and pay for said sleep-deprived parents to have a date night. Or a full night's sleep in a hotel.
Some babies sleep through the night from very early on whilst others - *Toby* - quite simply do not and even those for whom sleep is 14 hours and uninterrupted will at some point be teething or feel poorly and thus wake their parents from slumber to inform them that something is wrong. In Toby's case, at a little over a year old we have just gone through yet another round of weaning him off of night feeds after a particularly bad case of D&V led to his usual one night feed plus getting up for the day at 4:30am becoming up every hour or two and screaming constantly whether he was being held/fed/given a dummy or not.
Babies are hard work and although I did rather like hearing from sleep guru Sarah Ockwell-Smith that there's a link between sleeping less and being more intelligent (for the baby, not the parent, I'm most definitely not at my most intelligent lately) I would bite your hand off for a guaranteed good night's sleep these days!
Here are my top 10 tips for surviving sleep deprivation, enjoy!
Water - Sorry to be boring but drinking lots of water really helps your body to feel better and it also has the added benefit of stopping hunger pangs, which may possibly be enough to stop your bag-ridden eyes from swooning over that slab of chocolate cake before your shaking hands reach out to grab it and down it in one bite. Maybe.
Exercise - It is unbelievably difficult to find the motivation to exercise when you're exhausted, but believe me when I say that it WILL help, you WILL feel better for it and you may even enjoy it!
Don't become a hermit - It is so easy to want to hide away because talking to people seems like way too much effort and who wants to see pretty people without bags under their eyes or children napping peacefully in their buggies? But venture out you must because those perfectly serene children probably wreaked havoc upon their parents at breakfast time and the pretty people probably don't have kids or use expensive make-up to cover the bags and even if that's not the case, who cares? Chat to your friends, attempt to wear your child out at the park and just do something that makes you happy because cabin fever is not a happy experience and will make you feel even more tired and grumpy.
Get a cleaner - I know not everyone can afford it and it took me over a year to finally make the decision, but it's the best £15 a week we've ever spent! I no longer worry about spending my evenings and weekends doing chores, as long as the food is cooked, dishes washed and laundry mostly done I'm golden and my cleaning angel Vicky will take care of the rest.
Switch off the technology - I'm a complete internet/social media addict but during the bad times Phil and I do not hesitate to switch everything off at 8pm and go to bed because that way when Toby inevitably awake at 2am at least we've had a decent chunk of shut-eye.
Coffee - Yes healthy eating, yes water and I stand by that 99.9% of the time, but sometimes you Just.Need.Caffeine.
Cake - As above. Replace 'caffeine' with 'sugar'.
If someone offers help, take it - This could be in the form of a babysitter, a cooked dinner, a playdate, anything which means you don't have complete responsibility just for a short time. If it allows you and your other half to spend some quality time together attempting to construct full sentences then all the better, and good luck with the sentences.
Give things time - I'm not going to have the whole discussion of whether to sleep train or not and which methods to try or to avoid, all I will say is that you as parents will decide what you are comfortable trying but don't expect miracles overnight. Do your research, speak to other parents and give something a good few days or a week to see if any improvements are being made.
Give yourself a break - This is easier said than done, but I've been tired to the point of crying over not knowing what to have for supper or how to summon the energy to make it. On those days, just take the path of least resistance and don't feel guilty if you've not finished all the chores or written your latest blog post. The universe will continue to exist whilst you have a bit of a break.