9th July 2018

What not to say to a sleep-deprived mum

When you’ve got a newborn baby that doesn’t sleep well (what newborn does?!) – or an older baby or toddler for that matter – it’s impossible not to slip into a sleep-deprived pit of despair. And suddenly, it’s easy to feel like the whole world revolves around your sleep – or lack of it. While it’s important to remember that it is just a phase (see point no 1), and all babies sleep eventually (refer to point 2), there’s nothing worse than some of the well-meaning comments that people make. Here Rachel Tompkins gives us a rundown of some of the worst…

1. ‘It’s just a phase!’

Said numerous times by well-meaning friends and family members when you’re bemoaning your baby not sleeping for the umpteenth time. The rational side of you knows and understands this – there aren’t many teenagers who wake up at 5am are there? However, when you’re living a perpetual cycle of pre-6am wakings, being told that it’s just a phase is likely to induce a teetering-on-tears slap around the face (or at least a fantasy about one).

2. ‘All babies sleep eventually’

Do people not realise that when they utter that sentence, it is impossible not to focus on the one word – ‘eventually’. It’s the indeterminable nature of it that pees me off the most. Are they trying to comfort me with the fact my child will sleep well when it’s 2, or 3, or 4, or a teenager? Because when you’re praying for a wake up that starts with a 6 that all seems like a bloody long way off…

3. ‘That’s practically the middle of the night!’

When referring to the time your child wakes up in the morning. You, of course, are acutely aware that getting up at 4:50am is indeed far from ideal, however thanks to a Sky box full of Peppa Pig you can at least snuggle up on the settee together and kid/comfort yourself into thinking that it’s practically morning… until this little smug comment pulls the rug from right under your feet. Fight back the tears and keep your chin up. After all, a study by the University of Texas found that early risers achieved a grade higher than their late-sleeping counterparts. In simple terms, your child’s going to be a genius. Fact!

4. ‘Have you tried a black-out blind?’

Anyone who knows me well knows how laughable this comment is. My boys’ bedroom windows aren’t only covered with those brilliant Gro Anywhere Blinds, the gaps around the edge of the blind are taped down with duct tape, and then there is a whole other blind over the top! Not the tiniest smidgen of light will break through my wall of blackness.

5. ‘Perhaps they’re teething’

Perhaps so. But if that rationale were to be correct, that would mean that they’ve been teething since the moment they left the womb. Surely that’s not possible? And if it were, then one would assume the desperate purchases of Calpol, Nurofen, Ashtons and Parsons, Bonjela, Dentinox, etc etc, would have made a slight impact.

6. ‘Mine have always been great sleepers’

Well lucky effing you! One surefire way to lose new mum friends is to dare to say this at your next coffee morning. While we all want to be happy for our friends who are getting on well, tiredness could mean that it’s particularly difficult to reply to this comment with a smile.

7. ‘Maybe they’re just not tired’

‘Maybe they’re not, but I am,’ I want to hiss through gritted teeth. According to current advice, newborns needs about 8 hours of daytime naps, and 8 and a half hours at night. More to the point though, surely they must be tired because the rest of the house certainly is.


@RachTompkins @mushmums

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