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Sunday, 20 December 2015

What not to say to the mother of a shit sleeper

What not to say to the mother of a shit sleeper: Stupid things that people say to you when your baby is a rubbish sleeper.
I can't say I've particularly enjoyed the past six months.

Maybe I'm not a baby person, or maybe the people who say that to me every time I say I'm not enjoying it (maybe I just have to be less honest and smile and nod?) have never had a 'challenging' baby who's a little bit of a sleep-jerk. Maybe when they put their babies down for the night, at a reasonable hour and in their own beds, they feel that they've conquered mothering and laugh at us mere mortals with Tesco carrier bags under our eyes who don't have time for things like makeup and personal hygiene.

I've certainly heard comments that have made me roll my eyes right out of my head on a regular basis.

I have collected some of my favourites for you here so that you can avoid the faux pas of saying them and people thinking you're a bit of a dick.

'Is he a good baby?'

No. In fact I suspect he likes to push old ladies over and steal their pension money. This is the mother of all stupid questions. What this question really means is 'Does he sleep?' which is equally as stupid. Just saying no (which feels really awkward, like an admittance of failure) usually gets you a sympathetic head tilt or one of these clever follow ups...

'Have you tried just putting him down sleepy and leaving him*? We did that from day one and he soon learned that it was bedtime

From first time parents who don't realise that what you do actually means shit and their sample size of one cannot be extrapolated to the entire infant population. I find myself silently wishing their second babies to be similar devil children and then being ashamed of myself. Almost.

* This could be replaced by almost anything; white noise, using a dummy, patting techniques, Gina Ford routines, singing, crying it out. Because obviously if it worked for them, it will work for you. Spoiler alert - they might. They might not. Don't drive yourself crazy trying.

'Why don't you give him a bottle so you can sleep?'

Me? Up all night?

From people who've never had a bottle-refusing breastfed baby, obviously. And probably not one who, if you get it down him, will puke the contents of the bottle up and go floppy. Yay reflux.

'Poor you, I couldn't do it'

From seriously annoying people who have never HAD to do it. It's not a bloody choice. If your baby doesn't sleep, neither do you. Unless you're Kate Middleton rich and have a night nanny. Goddamn my lack of millions.

'Try to have a nap in the day' 

WHEN? There is a limit to the amount of unsupervised Peppa Pig viewing a two year old can do and it's hard to nap with a screaming baby in the house, and even harder at the wheel of a moving car. That's a joke of course. My children do not nap in the car.

'It's just a phase. It's over so quickly, you should make the most of it'

Not in any way helpful when you haven't slept for more than an hour at a time in three months. Guess what? LOTS of people don't enjoy the baby stage. You don't have to 'make the most of it'. It's perfectly acceptable to tolerate it until they're old enough to be interesting and understand the importance of playing in their room until the groclock tells them they can disturb you. If that ever happens.

'Oh you just wait! Teething babies/tantrumming toddlers/teenagers are so much worse!'

Yea. Thanks for that. Appreciate the sympathy. Not patronising at all.

'Gosh.  My cousin's kids didn't sleep at all until they were five and she ended up in a mental institution.'

Just no.

What SHOULD you say, then, to a mum who has a shit sleeper?

'Sounds shitty. Here, have some wine' can't go down the wrong way.

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  1. Make up? Whats that think I have used it well can count on one hand i the last 2 years

  2. Oh my god, all so true! My neighbour laughed at me one day when Toby was only a couple of months old and hadn't stopped screaming for 8 hours, and said "Oh you just wait for the terrible twos, this is nothing!" I've never wanted to slap anyone before like I did her in that moment. I just walked off with tears coming down. Some people are completely naive (good for them) and others are complete dicks! I've also wished a difficult baby on many a person before!xx

  3. I had a non-sleeper too, my sympathies to you! And a big glass of wine :) I could happily have punched everyone who said 'My best piece of advice is... sleep when the baby sleeps!' - hahaha! Also, all of those people (and surprisingly this was very common) who thought a nice thing to say was 'It only gets harder you know!'

    1. I get a sick kind of thrill from waking my daughter up when she's sleeping late and needs to be up. Mean mummy! She still wakes me up more often than I do her though!

  4. My youngest Hated bottles but wanted to feed all night! He is how two and finally took a bottle and sleeps very well. We used munchkin latch bottles and they worked the best. Remember it though night after night we would try him with a sodding bottle!!! Anyway it doesn't last forever and we get our revenge when they don't get up for school!

    1. He now takes a bottle although it was a long time before he'd keep it down! Eight months now and he has been known to sleep until 5am! Luxury 😂

  5. The first question is "how do you define a good sleeper?".
    Everyone has a different definition. I spoke to a lady once and she told me her baby slept all night. Wow. Really? Mine didn't. She clearly was better than me. And clearly the baby was a much better baby. How does she do it. Upon probing, the baby didn't go down till midnight and then slept till 6am. You can hardly call that sleeping all night. So I called it BS instead. What I say is that all babies are different. Full stop. What else are you gonna say. It is hard. it is tiring. Babies wear us out. Its a phase that we can't wait to see the back of. "you should sleep when the baby sleeps" is great advice. You should also cook when the baby cooks and clean when the baby cleans :) Thanks for sharing. I also have 2 smallies 17 months apart. I hear ya!

    1. Apparently sleeping through the night is five hours, so I read. That just takes the mickey.

      I've seen a comment 'Slept through the night with only one wake up!' which seems confusing although when he was at his worst I would have sold my kidney for that. Or just any night where he would go back to sleep afterwards... Anyway now he's sharing with his sister and seems to be doing ok! Or it might be my earplugs. Either way, it's a win and I am a much happier more emotionally stable person for it!

  6. "Is he a good baby" really irked me when people would ask that. It's not a moral failing on the part of a baby if they are not a good sleeper or eater, which is, as you say, what they are really asking about! #tribe

    1. I wish sleeping and eating were also respected in adulthood. I am a pro now.

  7. The ignorance of some people never ceases to amaze me. Especially when it comes from people who don't have children. x

    1. Ah that's the best isn't it. The advice you prize the most ;)

  8. ah was just about to say let me poor you a glass of wine my lovely and you finished your post on that note! great minds and all that!


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