A day after I had Baby E, a hospital doctor came in to do some post C-section checks and uttered some words I’d not heard since I had Little Z almost 5 years ago…”You should sleep when the baby sleeps”. I was a bit speechless. Mainly because I had gone almost crazy trying to achieve the harmonious sleep synchronisation in all the time Little Z was a baby. I managed to do it a handful of times but other than that I spent a lot of time wondering whether this was some kind of new mum urban myth and eventually concluded it was something to lure naive mums into thinking there was some kind of quality sleep out there just within reach, if only they slept when the baby slept.
So when I heard a medical professional utter these words I was slightly speechless. Could it be? This theory was a plausible one that many mums through the world were putting into regular practice? I decided that, this time round, I would master this sleep filled skill.
After a good few weeks I have found that yes! It is possible.
And here’s how to sleep when the baby sleeps (In 15 easy steps!)…
1. Notice that the baby looks like he is about to doze off into a lovely deep slumber. Rock baby for, what feels like, all eternity, just to be sure his eyes don’t ping open like the jack in the box baby you are becoming far too used to.
2. Place baby very very very carefully into crib using whatever slow motion ultra careful method you use. Take all the time you need. There is no rush.
3. Think about how if you go to sleep now, you’ll get 3 hour sleep (a la Chandler from Friends).
4. Wonder if you should change the bedding as the baby threw up a bit on it. Decide it probably didn’t soak through to the memory foam mattress and if you sleep at a certain angle you probably won’t touch it.
5. Think you should probably put at least one load of laundry on. You can’t remember the last time you did any kind of washing and you’re pretty sure both you and the baby are down to your last set of pjs.
6. Decide the kitchen looks like a bomb hit it and do the dishes quickly so it looks slightly less like student digs
7. Realise you’re hungry and have a very quick sandwich with whatever you can find. You’ve learnt how to wolf down your food. Think that you should really prepare dinner too but that hopefully you can just wing it tonight with something from the freezer. Or Just Eat. Probably the latter.
8. Weigh up whether you have enough time for a shower. You can’t remember the last time you washed your hair but you’re pretty sure it’s been more than 5 days. The scraped back look is starting to look more like crazy-could fry food in it- greaseball look. Decide one more day won’t hurt. After all, you’ve just had lunch and now you want tea. You can’t do both.
9. Have nice cup of tea. Keep hearing phantom baby cries. Keep checking to see that baby is indeed still asleep.
10. Dive into bed and think “If I sleep now, I’ll get 2 hours sleep”.
11. Doze off after 30 minutes and get back up another 30 minutes after that as courier is threatening to bang down door. Collect parcel grumpily resisting urge to shout at delivery man when you see minute parcel could have been posted through the letter box and doesn’t need signature.
12. Rock stirring baby to sleep whilst holding breath.
13. Answer the phone to the random number calling. You tell them in a hushed voice that no you don’t want your car serviced, yes you no longer have it. Uh huh, uh huh, you will promise to call them if you have another car that needs doing soon. Yep yep, thank you. Goodbye.
14. Unload washing machine and scatter clothes about on clothes horse in the conservatory. It’ll all dry somehow. Who needs order.
15. Dive back into bed and settle on a quick power nap before the next cycle of feeding begins.
There you have it, it can be done. As long as you include a quick clean up, answering the door and phone to random people and brain wind down time to actually fall asleep you WILL sleep…when the baby sleeps.
Written in collaboration with Matteessman