If you are reading this through blurry eyes held open only by the use of matchsticks, it’s safe to assume you didn’t get much sleep last night.
Perhaps it was because your baby refused to accept night time as the time for sleeping. Maybe because she was attached to your nipple for most of the night.
Either way, you’re probably exhausted.
In fact, you’re probably feeling ‘slangry’ today, which translates as ‘so sleep deprived you’re angry’.
Being a parent is tough, and even after a night of zero sleep you can’t excuse yourself from life to go and lie down.
5 Things You Shouldn’t Do Today (And 5 You Should)
Oh no, there’s still parenting to be done and a baby to care for. And you’re starting to suspect that baby really doesn’t care how tired you are.
So, if you’ve been up all night wondering why you ever thought becoming a parent would be a good idea, here are 5 things you shouldn’t do today:
#1: Don’t Be Hard On Yourself
This one is non-negotiable. As an exhausted mama, you deserve to be cuddled, complimented and treated with love – especially by you.
You’re not allowed to think you look like rubbish today, or to judge the state of your house, or to wish you were a more patient parent.
This is not a day for self-growth or critiquing the state of your parenting. Today you’re officially in survival mode.
Do what you must to get through the day. Lower your expectations and embrace the easy option. You can excel another day – perhaps when you’ve had more than three hours’ sleep.
#2: Don’t See Your Smug Friends
Human connection is important. It can help you feel less alone, it can remind you other people are going through their own struggles, and it can distract you from your desperate need to sleep. On the bleakest days, reaching out to other mamas can help you to keep going.
But – and it’s a big but – you’ve got to pick those mamas carefully. No matter what you do, don’t spend today with your smug mama friends whose babies have been sleeping through the night since before they were born.
Don’t meet up with the friends who will give you unwanted advice, imply your baby isn’t sleeping because of something you’re doing, or generally make you feel worse than you already are.
#3: Don’t Start Sleep Training
It can be tempting to try sleep training, especially when it’s pushed on you by the fresh-faced mothers at playgroup whose babies always sleep through the night.
It can be very tempting when you’re so tired your teeth hurt. There are plenty of baby books written by self-titled ‘experts’ who claim it’s the best thing for your baby.
But sleep training is a big step and it’s something you absolutely need to look into for yourself before making any big decisions.
Keep your eyes open for five minutes while you read Sleep Training – 6 Things To Consider Before You Do It.
If you’re still awake, move onto Cry It Out – 6 Educated Professionals Who Advise Against It.
#4: Don’t Do Anything Just Because You ‘Should’
‘I should do some laundry, clean the kitchen, call my mother-in-law, fill in that form…’, you think.
No. No, you shouldn’t.
Here’s a list of things you will do today: things you want to do, things you need to do and things you can be bothered to do.
Everything else is off the agenda for one day. Don’t place unrealistic expectations on yourself. Real life can wait until your eyelashes no longer ache from exhaustion.
You don’t need to do anything other than the bare minimum. It’s perfectly ok to treat today as a sick day and take a break from the pressures of real life.
#5: Don’t Think It Will Be This Way Forever
Those early sleep-deprived days are so hard, you think they will never end. You hope, oh how you hope, things will get easier, your baby will sleep through, and you’ll get a whole night of uninterrupted, blissful sleep.
But it never happens. Until it really does. It could be tomorrow, it could be next week, it could be six months from now. Did you just throw your laptop against the wall? Sorry, but it does take a little longer for some kids. But know that it will happen.
You don’t see parents of teenagers walking around dozy-eyed and moaning about how little sleep they’ve had. That hell is reserved purely for the parents of young kids. And it will pass, it really will.
One day, the fog will lift and you will forget what it’s like to have your whole body ache with tiredness. That’s the day you’ll probably think it’s a good idea to have another baby, and then you’ll be forced to relive the whole cycle again.
Now that we’ve laid the ground rules for things you need to avoid, let’s take a look at 5 things you should definitely do today:
#1: Lower Your Expectations
Can I get a Hallelujah? This is something all mamas need to do, but especially the sleep deprived ones.
Did you get dressed today? Good work. Are you wearing matching socks? Forget it. Did you have lunch? Hooray. And clean the kitchen afterwards? No chance.
Did you keep your baby safe today? WooHoo!
Did you win a medal for exceptional parenting? Not a chance. Make it to bedtime unscathed? Time to celebrate (with an early night).
Don’t push yourself. Just go at your own speed, which is, given your sleep deprivation, probably pretty slow.
#2: Get Some Fresh Air
You’re exhausted so you probably don’t feel like heading outside, but it will help. Honestly.
Wrap your baby up and step out in the fresh air. Take a walk around the block or head into the countryside – whatever you fancy.
Go somewhere quiet where there’s plenty of nature to look at. Admire the trees, soak up the sun, wrap up warm and trudge through the snow – it doesn’t matter what, you just need to get out.
It will break up the day, the fresh air will be good for you and your baby, and it will give you some much-needed headspace.
Even if you don’t want to, force yourself to go out, even for a little while. Just try to avoid busy, crowded places that might make you feel more tired.
#3: Indulge Yourself
When your brain is filled with sludge, you don’t need to be the best parent ever. You don’t have to help your three-month-old to appreciate classical music, or to use word flashcards with him. It’s ok just to veg out.
Get comfy, and put some music on, read a book or watch one of your favourite TV shows. It might not be the most exciting part of your baby’s day, but it’s not going to cause any long-term damage, and it might just make your day a little easier.
#4: Go To Your Tribe
You know who they are. They’re the women with bags as big as yours hanging under their eyes. These women love your baby like he’s their own. They’re the women who will put the kettle on and make you the world’s biggest cup of tea without you even having to say you’re tired. These women get you. They are the women who are there when you need them. Go find them, you need them now.
#5: Nap, If You Can
Ok, sometimes you can’t, but if you can, take a nap. Lie down and rest when your baby sleeps. Ask your mum to come over and watch the baby so you can have an hour’s rest.
It’s ok to ask for help. Heck, sometimes it’s absolutely necessary.
If you can find a way to have a nap, do it. If you can’t, take it slowly and try to rest, even if you can’t sleep.