Sleep deprivation is a terrible thing. It can make even the most serene person you know become irrational, irritable, and downright miserable. It’s also something that is virtually guaranteed for new parents. Therefore, when our children begin to sleep through the night on a regular basis, we sleep deprived mothers and fathers rejoice, thankful for the opportunity to regain our sanity. Sadly, this joyful feeling is often short-lived, as, thanks to teething, growth spurts, illness, night terrors, and other reasons that will forever remain inexplicable, children will often throw a spanner into our sleep works by unexpectedly staying awake for most of the night.
It is during these night time marathons that parents may experience a type of grief. We grieve for the loss of the sleep that we cherish so dearly. We grieve for the energy we know we will lack the next day. And we grieve for the extra money we will lose to coffee and chocolate that will be required to keep us going. If you are reading this on your phone at 3.30am wondering how you will make it through the next day whilst your child hogs the vast majority of your bed, read on and take comfort in the fact that you are not alone.
Stage One: Denial (Midnight)
”It will all be fine. It has only been about an hour since we gave her that Calpol and it is bound to have an effect soon. Once that happens then she will soon settle down and go to sleep. If she falls asleep by 1am I think I will still get about 4 hours and that is perfectly acceptable. I will just need a few more cups of coffee tomorrow.”
Stage Two: Anger (1am)
”This is ridiculous. How can she still be awake? She has had Calpol, a nappy change, a feed, and lots of cuddles. Why is she still awake? I’m never going to get to sleep and tomorrow will be awful because I will have to deal with a miserable baby and a rambunctious toddler, all whilst nursing a huge tiredness induced headache. And, how come the toddler can sleep through it? Funny how he can sleep through the baby’s screaming but he can’t sleep through me leaving his room at bedtime.”
Stage Three: Bargaining (2am)
”Dear God. You and I haven’t always gotten along. Well, ok, I haven’t really spoken to you since that time I played Mary in the school nativity and even then I was just following a script. Anyway, I digress. I would really like some sleep, God. If you’re out there, and you are listening, I promise I will start going to church and doing all that good Christian stuff if you can just get my baby to go to sleep. Pretty please?”
”As for you, baby, I promise that if you go to sleep now I will let you play with the remote control for as long as you like. I’ll even give you the good fromage frais, not that yucky, healthy, sugar free fun free stuff. Please baby?”
Stage Four: Depression (3am)
”What happened to my life? I had a promising future. I had nights out with friends. I had disposable income. I was a professional. I wore smart suits to work and took lunch breaks in coffee shops. Now look at me. I’m a glorified armchair propping up a baby who will apparently only settle if I hold her upright. I can’t do this anymore. I need sleep.”
Stage Five: Acceptance (4am)
”Well, may as well get up and make a cup of tea.”