How parenthood has changed my whole concept of sleep …
Since having a baby, I think of sleep in new and unexpected ways. Here’s why:
1. Sleep is a conversation starter
In the past, if a relative stranger’s first question to me was “how are you sleeping?” I’d have thought it was a gross invasion of my privacy and a bit creepy. As a parent, it’s perfectly normal. Sharing your sleeping patterns is the new “how’s the weather.”
2. I practice ‘sleep maths’
I used to think sleep happened in a single block. Eight hours sleep = 11pm to 7am. Now, I’m totting up chunks of snooze time. For example: 9.30pm-11.30pm; 1-4am + 5-8am = eight hours sleep. Ta-dah!
3. I’ve become a baby-monitor hypnotist
A typical evening goes as follows. We’ve finally settled our baby upstairs in her co-sleeper and tip-toed back downstairs. We switch the video baby monitor on. Baby is doing some light limb-twitching. It could go either way: she could fall into a deep sleep, or erupt into tears. “Sleeeeeeeeeep … go on … sleeeeeeeeeeep,” I find myself muttering in the direction of the monitor, like a deranged Paul McKenna — as if this will somehow help.
4. My iPhone has become a source of great joy, or misery
When I’m woken by chirpy noises from my baby in her co-sleeper, the first thing I do is surreptitiously check the time on my iPhone. My heart lifts those nights when I discover I’ve been asleep for 4+ hours.
5. I take hundreds of sleeping baby pictures
I don’t feel the need to photograph anyone else asleep every second day. Which is probably a good thing.
6. Everyone’s got an opinion on sleep
No-one used to pass judgment on my decision to go to sleep at midnight, sometimes after some light internet browsing (not totally true – my husband often did). But everyone has an opinion on baby sleeping. From the volume and length of naps you allow in the day, to how, when and where you put them to bed – it’s all subject to discussion. On the whole, this has been friendly, helpful opinion. But every so often, someone insists we follow some particular book or routine. Thanks – but I’d like to try and fail miserably to achieve the perfect sleep on my own first. Then I’ll come to you with my tail between my legs and ask you to explain in detail again.
7. Sleeping too soundly makes me nervous
Every parent’s done it. You spend all that time getting your baby to sleep. Eventually they enter into such a peaceful slumber that you can’t see any movement from them. You creep up to them and look closer. Definitely not moving. You put your finger in front of their nose. That might have been warm air you felt coming out, but you can’t be sure. So you give their face a little poke. The goal is to get the force of the poke just right: enough to prompt them to twitch and prove they’re alive, but not enough to wake them up again. This is a dangerous game of sleep roulette.
8. A good night’s sleep is ruined
My baby now ‘sleeps through the night’ (beware the hype: this means for 5+ hours in a row, not 12 hours). But I can’t. I still wake up at 2am and stare at her sleeping. Ah well. There are worse things to do in the middle of the night.