Every woman who’s ever had a baby has been given the same advice – cuddle your baby, accept all offers of help, sleep when the baby sleeps…
Hahahaha! Oh, that last one always got me! Who’s got time to sleep when the baby sleeps? Is the laundry, cooking, cleaning, shopping, looking after older children and work just going to happen on its own?? When the baby sleeps is when stuff gets done!
As it turned out, today I had the perfect opportunity to test out that last piece of advice to see if it was possible to sleep when the baby sleeps and not be eaten up with guilt.
We’d been up most of the night with a grizzly, unhappy, sick and teething baby – come morning, there were two grizzly, unhappy, exhausted parents. Sound familiar? One of us got to drive an hour to work, the other got started right away. I managed to get through most of my day by setting tiny goals such as making breakfast for the toddler, making some peppermint tea and forgetting to drink it until it’s stone cold, finding a laundry basket that didn’t have gumboots or glitter in it (toddlers are fun!) – just small achievable wins.
By 3pm, however, I’d hit my wall. The baby needed to be cuddled constantly, my upper body was about to go on strike (he’s 9kg after all!) and I was losing my ability to see straight. I lay down with bub and closed my eyes for just a second… …and woke up 20min later to the toddler asking for strawberries and the baby grasping at my chest. What happened? Where did the time go? I was just going to close my eyes for a second!
When the mind and body need to rest, it will happen. The laundry and deadlines were still there, but then so were the house and the children. Everyone was still happy and no-one was wondering why I was sleeping. If a 2 year old can accept the practicality of a nap, why do adults beat themselves up over it so much? Those 20min of rest allowed me to be a better mother and worker for the rest of the day. It’s time people (but especially women) let go of the expectation that superhuman stamina is standard and accept that a nap can be exactly what’s needed. Laundry be damned!