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The insanity of parental sleep-deprivation

1
On a rainy day last week, I left the house in the usual cloud of stress, bundling my sons into the car muttering swear words under my breath and heading out to do the weekly shop. It had been another early start – a common occurrence these days – and I was already feeling tired.

When I returned, I found to my horror that the front door was wide open, the lights were on and there was no sign of the cat.

“We’ve been robbed!” I panicked inwardly. “Stay in the car boys,” I warned. “If mummy doesn’t come out in ten minutes, start

SelfishMother.com
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screaming.”

Grabbing the travel high chair out of the boot (the nearest thing I could find resembling a weapon), I crept inside. I was fully expecting (a little hopefully perhaps) to find a Jamie Dornan lookalike rifling through my no doubt disappointing underwear drawer and attempting to find a nail polish amidst the chaos with which to decorate me later.

Alas, such a fate was not to be. As I tiptoed around the house still brandishing the clip on chair, it became apparent there was no crazed intruder inside. Just a very sleep-deprived mother

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who had left the house with the door wide open and gone out for two hours oblivious to the security breach. Meanwhile, my children stared at me with concerned faces from inside the car, wondering if their mum had finally lost her marbles.

Which, to some extent, I had. You see, extreme tiredness is like a form of madness. With every 4am start to the day that passes, I lose more of a grip on reality.

I’m starting to feel like Johnny Depp’s character in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, where he’s taken a bucket load of mind-altering drugs and

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thinks there are bats flying around in his car. If this starts happening on the school run I’ll know I need to get help.

Upon recounting the story of the open door to some other mums, it turns out I’m not alone. One recalled a time when she drove off from a Monkey Music class only to find a voicemail waiting for her when she got home letting her know her baby was still in its car seat on the pavement outside.

Another actually fell asleep at the wheel with her baby and mother in law in the car. They ended up on the opposite side of the road,

SelfishMother.com
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thankfully unhurt but definitely shaken up.

These stories serve as a reminder of why it is so important that mums get enough sleep. We spend a lot of time looking other people but usually very little on ourselves and sleep is often the thing none of us get enough of.

Most nights, I find myself spending hours in my baby’s nursery. This invariably involves hanging precariously over the cot trying to get him back to sleep and wishing I’d stopped to put something warm on before I came in.

Sometimes I start hallucinating – another warning side

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for sleep madness – imagining myself creeping back into bed, snuggling down under the covers and closing my eyes. Another squawk comes from the cot and I’m back in the room but unsure whether I’m awake, asleep or possibly even dead. I’m still upside down and I’ve been doing shush pat for so long I’ve lost all feeling in my hands and mouth.

It’s usually at this point that I give up trying to get him back to sleep and just bring him downstairs before he wakes everyone else up too. And so begins another exhausted day.

Some mothers have

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mastered the art of the ‘disco kip’ – a ten minute refresher nap that can still work even when you’ve got an older child at home. Sadly I have always struggled with this, and even when I get the opportunity to sleep my mind is just too busy with thoughts of doing the washing up to be able to switch off.

If I do manage to have a daytime nap, rather than bouncing out of bed feeling refreshed and renewed, it is more like the slow-motion crawl of a person who’s been accidently shot with a tranquiliser gun.

People say, “It’s just a

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phase” and, “It won’t last forever.” Well neither will my marriage if these crack of dawn starts carry on for much longer.

So what’s the answer? Well, I guess I’ve got used to existing in a semi-conscious daze. And as long as I can still hold a conversation and maintain control of my bodily functions, there’s no need to panic just yet.

But I really do hope we can all start getting a good night’s sleep soon, for I suspect that only then will the full joy of motherhood be able to shine through.

 

SelfishMother.com
Sian Kilgour

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- 26 Aug 15

On a rainy day last week, I left the house in the usual cloud of stress, bundling my sons into the car muttering swear words under my breath and heading out to do the weekly shop. It had been another early start – a common occurrence these days – and I was already feeling tired.

When I returned, I found to my horror that the front door was wide open, the lights were on and there was no sign of the cat.

“We’ve been robbed!” I panicked inwardly. “Stay in the car boys,” I warned. “If mummy doesn’t come out in ten minutes, start screaming.”

Grabbing the travel high chair out of the boot (the nearest thing I could find resembling a weapon), I crept inside. I was fully expecting (a little hopefully perhaps) to find a Jamie Dornan lookalike rifling through my no doubt disappointing underwear drawer and attempting to find a nail polish amidst the chaos with which to decorate me later.

Alas, such a fate was not to be. As I tiptoed around the house still brandishing the clip on chair, it became apparent there was no crazed intruder inside. Just a very sleep-deprived mother who had left the house with the door wide open and gone out for two hours oblivious to the security breach. Meanwhile, my children stared at me with concerned faces from inside the car, wondering if their mum had finally lost her marbles.

Which, to some extent, I had. You see, extreme tiredness is like a form of madness. With every 4am start to the day that passes, I lose more of a grip on reality.

I’m starting to feel like Johnny Depp’s character in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, where he’s taken a bucket load of mind-altering drugs and thinks there are bats flying around in his car. If this starts happening on the school run I’ll know I need to get help.

Upon recounting the story of the open door to some other mums, it turns out I’m not alone. One recalled a time when she drove off from a Monkey Music class only to find a voicemail waiting for her when she got home letting her know her baby was still in its car seat on the pavement outside.

Another actually fell asleep at the wheel with her baby and mother in law in the car. They ended up on the opposite side of the road, thankfully unhurt but definitely shaken up.

These stories serve as a reminder of why it is so important that mums get enough sleep. We spend a lot of time looking other people but usually very little on ourselves and sleep is often the thing none of us get enough of.

Most nights, I find myself spending hours in my baby’s nursery. This invariably involves hanging precariously over the cot trying to get him back to sleep and wishing I’d stopped to put something warm on before I came in.

Sometimes I start hallucinating – another warning side for sleep madness – imagining myself creeping back into bed, snuggling down under the covers and closing my eyes. Another squawk comes from the cot and I’m back in the room but unsure whether I’m awake, asleep or possibly even dead. I’m still upside down and I’ve been doing shush pat for so long I’ve lost all feeling in my hands and mouth.

It’s usually at this point that I give up trying to get him back to sleep and just bring him downstairs before he wakes everyone else up too. And so begins another exhausted day.

Some mothers have mastered the art of the ‘disco kip’ – a ten minute refresher nap that can still work even when you’ve got an older child at home. Sadly I have always struggled with this, and even when I get the opportunity to sleep my mind is just too busy with thoughts of doing the washing up to be able to switch off.

If I do manage to have a daytime nap, rather than bouncing out of bed feeling refreshed and renewed, it is more like the slow-motion crawl of a person who’s been accidently shot with a tranquiliser gun.

People say, “It’s just a phase” and, “It won’t last forever.” Well neither will my marriage if these crack of dawn starts carry on for much longer.

So what’s the answer? Well, I guess I’ve got used to existing in a semi-conscious daze. And as long as I can still hold a conversation and maintain control of my bodily functions, there’s no need to panic just yet.

But I really do hope we can all start getting a good night’s sleep soon, for I suspect that only then will the full joy of motherhood be able to shine through.

 

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Sian Kilgour

Sian Kilgour is a PR director and freelance writer. Having started out as Senior Features Writer for Horse & Pony magazine, Sian has since published two photographic guidebooks. She now contributes articles on parenting and work / family balance for the likes of Beyond the School Run and IPSE as well as providing strategic planning and reputation management for brands and businesses. Sian has two young sons and lives in a constant state of toddler-induced chaos with her husband in Buckinghamshire.

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