One of my first jobs was running a group for new mums. We were going to spend the first session talking about bonding, temperament and transition to parenthood. We spent the whole two hours talking about…you guessed it, SLEEP.
The language we use around babies’ sleep in itself sets up such difficult expectations. We talk about ‘cracking’ sleep, as if we could only find the magic solution that would enable us to feel rested again. Actually, what’s fascinating about sleep is that it is only a problem in certain countries despite similarities in the amount babies sleep (you can read more about that here). Back to those expectations again.
No matter how your baby sleeps, and how much or little you choose to try and modify their sleep, the reality for most parents is that you will be TIRED. So I asked Emily-Jane Clark, author of Sleep is for the Weak, just one thing she would say to new parents… ‘Babies wake up at night because they are babies and it is what they do’.
“If you have a baby that doesn’t like to sleep much it is NOT your fault, you are not doing anything wrong and there is nothing wrong with your baby.
Some babies sleep all night every night, some like to co-sleep, some like to sleep alone and some just hate to sleep unless absolutely flipping necessary! There is no right or wrong – every child is different.
So do not sweat sleep deprivation! I promise, it will pass so until then stock up on coffee, lots of coffee.
MY TOP TIPS TO SURVIVING SLEEPLESS NIGHTS
- View sleep as a luxury not a necessity. This way any amount of sleep you get is automatically a bonus.
- DO NOT go out in public if you have been up all night. There are people out there and you may have to talk to them.
- Do not buy any books about how to get your baby to sleep. Unless they are specifically written about your baby, they are pretty useless. Besides, who has the energy to read books?
- TRY to remember you are not a bad parent. Being sleep-deprived can sometimes make your parenting less than perfect but try not to worry. You are not a bad mum for feeding the children fish fingers for three nights running. It will not scar them for life to watch CBeebies for two hours and you will not burn in hell if you bribe them with biscuits.
Despite how bad you feel, you are not going to actually DIE from lack of sleep. At worst, there is a small chance you might pass out. Some days it may feel like you have ‘hit the wall’ and can’t go on but you WILL survive; just like you did yesterday and the day before that. Go you!”
Emily-Jane Clark, author
As well as her hilarious book Sleep is for the Weak , Emily-Jane writes for publications such as Metro and The Huffington Post. You can find her talking about the realities of parenting, mental health, wine and sleep (or lack of) over on Instagram and Twitter, and find her website here.