It’s no secret that I don’t get much sleep. My lovely boy doesn’t sleep that well, or goes through patches where sleep is pretty challenging. It sometimes is good, sometimes it isn’t. We are currently in a very rough patch, due to routine changes and him being extra sensitive to change. It’s part and parcel of his sensory issues and we are learning how to cope and more importantly how to help him cope.
It isn’t easy. Most of the time, I attempt to be light hearted about it, and I am pretty good at hiding how really tired I am. There isn’t much point in being grumpy, or moaning (too much) about it, because it is what it is. Also, I know that there are other parents going through much harder situations, that really are life long and challenging and make our sleep issues seem minor in comparison so I try to keep my reality in check, because I know that we don’t have it as hard.
I post funny pictures on Facebook, about sleep and my need for a lot of caffeine (and when we are not trying to get pregnant, the occasional glass of wine at the end of the day) I will say things in a tongue in cheek way, about lack of sleep or how tired we are, and make light of it all. Everyone knows I like my coffee, my colleagues and friends prop me up and give me a hug or a pep talk when I need it, and I generally manage to cope. As a couple and family, we mostly have a sense of humor about it, and we try not to make it a huge thing. I don’t want my son to think that we are angry or resentful about his sleep issues. (I do get angry and resentful, don’t get me wrong)
But soemtiemes it’s hard and I struggle, and I get grumpy, and I show it. Mostly to LSH, because he’s there and my sounding board and my support, occasionally to my friends and colleagues, who will ply me with extra coffee and words of encouragement. I will rant on Facebook, and then feel bad and delete my rants, because I hate being negative on Facebook. My sense of humor vanishes, and I am less tolerant of other people’s foibles and issues.
Sleep deprivation does affect you mentally and physically. It can trigger depression, or make depression worse. It can affect you if you have anxiety or cause anxiety. It causes physiological issues, and it can actually make you ill. It isn’t good for you on a long term, and parents are often the ones who struggle most, with lack of sleep. We don’t always get breaks or relief, and we have to cope.
I am struggling a bit at the moment. I am not feeling my usual cheerful self, I keep looking at expensive holiday packages, because the idea of being away somewhere warm, where we can relax and not have to cook, clean or do normal life, for a week or two is blissful (although in reality, I know that sleep will likely more challenging, because of change in routine) I find myself feeling less tolerant of things I see on social media, and I have to switch off and log out, because I know my ability to bite my tongue and not be rude is limited when I am very tired. I have to avoid certain people in real life, because my normal relatively patient self has taken a temporary vacation and I can’t be what they need me to be. I don’t enjoy my work as much, and I am not as patient and gracious with my children as I should be.
It will pass, I know. I will pull myself together, and will start to feel better. Sleep will return to relative normal, and we will feel less under pressure to manage life whilst yawning cavernously, and topping up on caffeine but whilst I am in the midst of it, it’s tough, in fact it’s damn tough. It’s hard to explain. Other parents get it. We form a silent (or sometimes not so silent) club of sleepless solidarity.
We plod on, we manage. We smile over our coffee, and we get on with life and we daydream about more sleep.
But we are tired and it’s not going away, at least not for now.
The only good thing about being so sleep deprived is that IF we do have another baby, I won’t be in total shock at the lack of sleep. 😉
To my fellow parents out there, who are tired and struggling. You rock, you are amazing, and we will survive because we have to. If I could open a hotel for sleep deprived parents, where we could catch up on our sleep I would. If I had the ultimate solution to make our precious children sleep a bit more, I would share it. I honestly think that the myth of how children should sleep needs to be broken and debunked and that we would cope better if the bar was lower and people understood what we are going through and that the expectations of sleep for children were more realistic.