It’s been a long week. Obviously for one, it’s been the School holidays. Given that I have so many kids, (OK, three but jeez, somedays it actually feels like I have about 15) holidays can be tricky. But more than that, the baby has had a (bad) cold. As we all know, colds are no fun for anyone, especially young children and babies. Firstly, because they are not yet able to blow their nose (seriously, if you are stuck for something to do one afternoon, find a young child and try and teach them to blow their nose, if you can actually achieve this in said afternoon then you deserve a medal). But most of all because they don’t really understand why they feel so bad. Cue whinging. Lots and lots of whinging. Which is obviously hard in itself but as long as you get a good night sleep you can deal with- Oh wait… That blocked nose of theirs? Yep that will wake them (and consequently you) over and over again. That’s if the cough doesn’t get to them first.
This is how my week has been. Now obviously I feel awful for the baby one, nobody likes to see their children poorly. But I’m going to be honest; I’m feeling pretty bloody sorry for me too.
Whilst noticing stuff when tired generally isn’t something I’m able to do, there are in fact a number of things I’ve noticed when being this sleep deprived:
1. It’s cumulative
After one night of no sleep? Yeah I can do this! I don’t need sleep! Pah I’m a mother now you just get used to it don’t you?
After two nights of no sleep: Hmmm, so I’m not feeling so fresh today, I wonder if anyone will notice if I have a little snooze in the corner at soft play?!
After three nights (or more- let’s be honest you might even be talking 3 years by now) of sleep deprivation: Seriously. Can’t. Do. This. *googling ‘can I actually die of no sleep’ (FYI turns out you actually can indirectly, so make sure that snoring hubby shares the pain!)
2. Even when the baby/poorly child/sleep thief does fall asleep, you won’t be able to
You lay the baby down and hold your breath (being careful not to hold it for too long, as a sharp release of held breath can be noisy: you’ve learnt the hard way).
She stirs. You close your eyes silently praying, praying that she stays asleep. You open one bleary eye and realise that SHE IS STILL ASLEEP!
Excited, you hurriedly tiptoe back to bed (and give the snoring husband yet another jab in the ribs). You close your eyes. Then you realise you’re not sure what time it is. You’d better check as you NEED to be able to have a moan tomorrow at the school gates about just how long you’ve been up. You check your phone. Oooh Instagram notifications, better quickly check them out.
Before you know it you are checking out the holiday pictures of someone who is clearly only following you to try and entice you into yet another MLM, (completely and utterly anything but a pyramid scheme) pyramid scheme.
You put your phone down, realising you’ve actually wasted a precious 21 minutes of sleep time. Closing your eyes you wonder whether you will be able to afford a holiday this year. And where to go? Ooh so many options… No. Must. Go. To. Sleep.
Suddenly, an hour has gone by (you know that because you’ve checked your phone, but this time using all your willpower not to check social media). The sleep thief is still sleeping but you’re still awake. Uh you’re going to feel awful in the morning…
3. People will tell you that you don’t look tired
Or, as is more often the case that you ‘look great’. Of course there is always the chance that this true. Yet, despite the fact that you’ve had no more than 3 hours solid sleep for the last, I don’t know, 6 YEARS, that you somehow do indeed look on form. Chances are however, that you look just like you feel; shit. These kind people (usually those who’ve had a blissful 8 hours let me add) are taking pity on you and feel that at least if you don’t realise how big your eye bags are and how pale your neglected skin looks, that this will make you feel better. To be fair, sometimes it does. Until you catch sight of your face and realise that your friends are indeed liars.
4. Your children know you are vulnerable
If you have other children, be advised that they have some sort of radar when it comes to tired parents. They know. In the day that you really hit the wall with the tiredness, they will decide the time is right to ask you to explain where babies come from. Add to that the fact that they will most definitely not be able to entertain themselves for one single minute of the day, but will instead require you to play back to back Connect Four, followed by the Shopping List Game, followed by horror of horrors; TWISTER!
5. You will tell yourself that ‘calories don’t count when you’re tired’
A bit like when you’re hungover; when you’re this tired, chocolate is energy… Right?
6. You will always have an important meeting/ event planned the day after the worst night sleep EVER
Like theme parks with a whole troop of kids aren’t stressful enough, be assured that if there is any night destined to be sleepless, it will be the night before such a trip. Queues that might have seemed ‘a little bit long’ will become torture. Over excited children’s screams will burn a hole into your brain and your eyes…. Uh. If you’re lucky it might be sunny and you can wear sunglasses. If not (and you want to avoid looking like weirdo/ wannabe celebrity) you will have to face masses and masses of crowds with stinging and bloodshot eyes, akin to those of a crazed murderer. (Although this may come in handy if you’re getting a bit sick of your family; I’ve heard they are always looking for theme-dressed staff to man the ghost train…)
Alternatively and arguably worse that this, your sleepless night will be the night before an important meeting or presentation at work. Trying to deliver figures, a speech or indeed any sort of logical sentence is nigh on impossible when you’re so tired you’re brain feels like mush. With a bit of luck your colleagues will take pity on you and offer you a seat in a dark corner and you can instead spend your time desperately willing your eyes to stay open.
7. You will tell yourself 208 times each night that it’s ‘only a phase’
Which it is, obviously (well you’d like to hope you don’t end up having to rock your 17 year old to sleep whilst manically singing twinkle twinkle eh?) But at 2am on night 24 of no sleep, when you are desperately trying to settle a back arching, screwed up faced baby, getting perspective is important. Perspective that this is just a short lived, (please god let it be short lived) phase. That being said if anyone else tells you the same thing, you actually want to jab a pitch fork into their eyes.
8. It actually is just a phase
Sorry! But as we all know, it really is. Just for some unfortunate souls (like myself) the phase can drag out a looooot longer than for others.
How does sleep deprivation affect you?