I know it must be boring and difficult listening to someone bang on and on about how they’ve not slept for six months… and then seven… and then…eight (I’m bored talking about it to be honest). It must ruin meet-ups over coffee, and take the edge off the banter. And I’m sure that people feel they should say something comforting or offer some advice to try and help them in their plight. But now we’re into month TEN of crappy sleep, the ‘comforting’ words and ‘helpful’ advice when you’re in tears or simply can’t function through exhaustion, stop being mildly irritating and become Incredible-Hulk-level-anger provoking. So, to save yourselves serious injury, here are the top 5 things to NEVER SAY to parents who have a non-sleeping baby.
1. “It’s probably just a phase.”
Yeah, you’re right. She’s only been a terrible sleeper since birth, I’m being a bit hasty aren’t I? How silly for me not to be more patient. I guess it’s just a phase like, I dunno, a lengthy prison sentence. Or like life is just a phase.
2. “It’s a sign of intelligence.”
That’s great to know, but unless she’s going to win ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’ in the next week so I can pay for a live-in nanny to get up with her every 2 hours, I currently don’t give a monkeys.
3. “Have you tried…(insert EVERY sleep training method and feeding regimen here, and then be very insistent that they absolutely MUST try said method)?”
Those who, like me, have ‘wakeful’ babies will know the hours spent trawling sleep sites, books and forums for every conceivable suggestion for getting your child to sleep. It’s almost impossible that a method exists that I HAVEN’T heard of.
4. “I can’t imagine what it’s like- mine slept through from two weeks old”.
Get out of my house. Immediately. No, leave your coat, just get out.
5. “You’ll look back at this and laugh.”
Will I? Will I really? I’m not sure I will. I think I’m more likely to mourn the thousands of pounds I’ve spent on coffee to get through the day, or osteopathy sessions to sort my back out after hours and hours spent lying on the nursery floor singing ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little sodding Star’ whilst Pickle reverses around the cot like a raspberry-blowing lunatic. Or the hours lost consulting baby sleep websites at 3 am to the soundtrack of ‘Dada’ and ‘Ra-Ra-Ra’ at full volume provided by the little inmate to my left. And although this will (hopefully) become a memory rather than occupying my every thought, I will remember how it relentlessly impacted on our daily lives. So please, I beg you, don’t be flippant about something that has almost broken me on a number of occasions. But if I’ve had a gin or two, I may be able to manage a wry smile. Maybe.
I know everyone genuinely has the best intentions, but a hug, passing a tissue whilst they have a little weep (embarrassing as this may be in Caffè Nero), plying them with chocolate or, even better, wine, is often what a sleep deprived parent really needs. That, and being allowed to complain from time to time without being instructed what to do. So if you’re meeting up with a sleep deprived comrade soon, stock up on Terry’s Chocolate Orange and Kleenex…. and a good bottle of Shiraz 😉