There are no guarantees in motherhood. Well, aside from sleep deprivation, that much is absolutely 100% guaranteed. Sleep deprivation is real, almost too real, and there’s no escaping it. If there’s a new baby in your house, then you will definitely be experiencing some lack of sleep.
First of all, you were exhausted after giving birth and in need of some serious relaxation time. You didn’t get any, of course, you were far too busy staring lovingly at your new baby. The baby who, by the way, is nocturnal. You probably spent the first few weeks of your baby’s life welcoming guests during the day and trying to stay awake at night. Thankfully, the nocturnal stage didn’t last long and within a couple of weeks your baby knew the difference between night and day. Not that it made much difference since your baby still didn’t seem to fancy sleeping at night all that much.
So here you are, 10 weeks later, tripping over your eye bags and sobbing into your cold cup of coffee. Don’t worry, your child will sleep one day. No guesses on when that will be, but fear not, it will be. In the meantime, try the following tips to survive sleep deprivation:
- Be kind to yourself
You’re tired and have been for a long time now, don’t judge yourself too harshly. You’re going to forget diapers, answer the door without a top on and get your days mixed up sometimes. That’s just what happens when you’re tired. Lower your expectations. You don’t need to have a showhome tidy house, a red carpet ready outfit and a completed to-do list. These days, you don’t even need matching socks. Take it easy, prioritize things that need to be done, and other than that simply focus on getting some rest.
- Remember you’re both tired
Try not to fall into the I’m-more-tired-than-you trap. It’s not a good place to end up. Once there, it’s easy to get stuck and, most importantly, there are no winners. You are both tired, being a new parent is tough and it doesn’t really matter who got the least sleep last night. What matters is that you both feel supported, loved and appreciated during this time. Try to keep your irritability in check and be aware that emotions can run high when you’re low on sleep.
- Ask for help
You don’t have to do this alone. Looking after a baby isn’t easy and, as they say, it takes a village to raise a child. These days, we don’t live in tribes and not many villages collectively raise babies, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. If you’re tired, ask for help. Friends and family will be more than happy to help you out. People will happily fetch groceries, hoover the living room and entertain your older child for a few hours so you can catch up on sleep. All you have to do is ask.
- Take care of yourself
Sleep isn’t always possible, especially when you have a new baby in the house. Even when you can’t sleep, however, there are things you can do to lessen the blow of exhaustion. Make sure you’re eating a healthy, balanced diet rich in fresh vegetables and greens. Make an effort to get some exercise each day, it doesn’t have to be anything too intense, a half hour walk with the pram is enough. Set some time aside to relax each day, even if all you manage is a short soak in the tub, it might be enough to reset your batteries.
- Sleep when the baby sleeps
It’s not always possible, in fact sometimes it might be impossible, but do try to catch up on sleep whenever you can. Ignore the mountains of laundry waiting to be done, and instead snuggle up in bed when your baby goes down for a nap. If you have another child demanding your attention, don’t be afraid to ask a friend or family member to help out so you can nap when the baby sleeps.
Most importantly, remember this won’t last forever. You are exhausted now, but one day your child will sleep better and you will feel human again. Promise.
Written by Fiona (@Fiona_Peacock), mother, writer and lover of all things baby related.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2016. All rights reserved.