What not to say to the mother of a shit sleeper

Parenting and life

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?’

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.

So 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.

Tesco Wine by the case Villa Maria (21)

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