The 7 rules of the sleep deprivation society (for Meghan, Harry and all new parents)
Here are the seven rules of the sleep deprivation society (for Meghan, Harry and all new parents)
From always putting cereal in the fridge through to forgetting your own name, here are the seven rules of the sleep deprivation society – a term mentioned yesterday by future monarch and current king of the bad dad jokes, Prince William. The Duke of Cambridge, when talking about the birth of the brand new baby boy of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, aka the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, said:
‘I’m very pleased and glad to welcome my brother to the sleep deprivation society that is parenting…so, yeah.’
And Princess Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge and mum of three, stood by his side and gave a kind of nervous laugh…that totally translated to all of us in the know as ‘WHAT THE HELL DO *YOU* KNOW WILLIAM, YOU WERE ALWAYS SNORING AT 3 IN THE BLOODY AM? AND FOUR? AND FIVE?! What do YOU know about sleep deprivation? Hey? HEY?’
And yes, congrats to Meghan and Harry on the birth of their baby boy! Isn’t it lovely news? They are the best royal couple, am I right?
And to them and every other new parent who might be wondering what the sleep deprivation society is all about – jokes of privileged parents who probably had a lot of help aside – the first rule of the sleep deprivation society is definitely not that no-one talks about the truth deprivation society…because EVERYONE talks about it. At length. In everywhere from health visitor waiting rooms to down on the mat at baby massage and baby clubs across the country. So seek out the people who are also sleep-deprived and cling on to them for dear life. They are your people! They are your life raft! Ignore the ‘Oh, my baby’s slept through since pre-conception but I really struggle as he’s not particularly keen on carrot purée I leisurely batch-prepped during his second three-hour long cot nap of the day of which he went down to drowsy but awake’ humble brag crew. Seek out, instead, the grey-faced mums who are wearing dry shampoo and yesterday’s milk-stained sweatshirt. They’ll never ask if your baby is ‘good’ (aka if they’re sleeping though) or indeed if they actually are ‘sleeping through’ (as if!) because they know as well as you do that they’re not.
And the second rule of the sleep deprivation society is that you might, possibly, end up loathing your other half with the red hot passion previously reserved for your sex life, if they’re asleep and you’re awake. You’ll lie there with the baby, again, seething and mentally totting-up the hours of sleep your partner has had vs all the hours you’ve not, a figure that you bring up, loudly, at every appropriate – and completely inappropriate – opportunity.
The third rule of the sleep deprivation society is that everything and everyone is irritating, especially the people who joke about the ‘sleep deprivation society.’ Special mention to the people who say ‘Have you tried…?’
And the problem with sleep deprivation is it removes aaallll your filters, meaning at some point the irritation will be too much and the red mist of instant rage will descend at anyone who bought the wrong cake or were half a precious second late home or trod on a sheet (true story). But really, it’s not about any of that, it’s because you’re so very tired.
PS I know parents don’t hold the monopoly on sleep deprivation, but come to me when you’ve been functioning on about 22.5 seconds of broken sleep a night for days, weeks, months and years on end – vs stayed up a bit late to watch a box set on Saturday – and then we can talk.
The big thing about sleep deprivation is, it’s completely normal for babies to wake up! They need to feed through the night, loads! If you’re breastfeeding, you need them to feed at night to make the milk for the day! They might be cold / sad / overtired…and sometimes, like you, they just want to be held! It’s normal for toddlers to wake up too! You’re doing a brilliant job by meeting their needs and going to them when they want you….It’s still shit though. Sleep deprivation will hit you like a tonne of twisted glass that splinters in the deep, dark shadows of your soul. And you’re still expected to function as if all is completely normal. So the fourth rule of the sleep deprivation society is that you don’t have to cherish every moment, especially the moments where you’ve been up all year, feel like you’re wading though concrete just so you can put the cereal in the fridge and can’t work out if it’s you or the baby crying. Or remember what your name is. What is it, again?
Under-eye concealer, caffeine, cake and wine are your close companions now (rule number five).
The fifth rule of the sleep deprivation society? Buy the biggest bed you can, as you’ll all end up sleeping in it.
And rule number six of the sleep deprivation society is that you might as well put the cereal in the fridge-full time because you’ll end up doing it anyway, due to absent-minded absentmindedness that comes with severe and prolonged sleep deprivation. Previously a clear-headed, logical thinker? You’ll find yourself standing in the kitchen with no idea why you went there. Or staring at a takeaway menu, unable to comprehend how to formulate this thing you used to call a decision (or maybe that’s just me?).
But, but, it’ll get better! At some point they really will sleep for a couple of hours at once and you’ll feel like a new person. Or you’ll wake up and they will still be asleep (so you’ll be awake for hours checking they are breathing, sorry). And best of all they will be heart-wrenchingly amazing and smell so insanely good and they will smile at you and your sad, grey soul will melt, every time. But be kind to yourself, there’s never enough support for new mums and you’re doing a brilliant job under tricky circumstances.
And try to go to bed early, for once – I know the evening is the only time you get to do everything else and be you, but, yeah.
Take it from a mum of two terrible sleepers, one of who never really recovered from the four month sleep regression. Yes, she’s four now! And has slept through just about that many tines. But we made it work, we’re all in one piece. And you’ll get through it too, promise.
Oh wait. The seventh rule of the sleep deprivation society? No idea what that is. Neither do you because, like everything else, you’ll forget it.
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