The tired, tired days aren’t over. I’m still a tired, tired Mum. Although my baby occasionally sleeps, she makes up for this by running around furiously all day like a trouble-seeking missile. So, if I ever had the time to work it out, I would probably find that my overall energy expenditure is much higher than the little bit of extra sleep I get makes up for. Don’t worry folks, I am doing my best to redress the balance using copious quantities of chocolate.
Maybe it’s because I am through the fog of the new-born days, or maybe I am trying to fool myself into thinking I can cope with the endless tiredness, but I am actually starting to see some benefits in being a tired, tired mum.
Here are my unexpectedly fab things that come with being a tired, tired Mum.
1. People offer to do my ironing.
With my first baby, when people said, “Give me a call and I’ll come around and help you with the housework/dinner/baby stuff”, I never really considered taking up the offer. I just thought it was something that people said to be kind and helpful. I figured my husband and I could cope just fine with a little help from my parents. We had it covered.
However, babies who don’t sleep make you view things differently. Having an older child and a non-sleeping baby made me suddenly aware of offers to help like I never had been before. So, when a friend offered to help and said she just loves doing ironing, I almost bit her hand off. She loves ironing because she only has her own, size 6, designer things to quickly press with her super-dooper iron.
An hour of wrestling millions of school uniforms and about a ton of extremely frilly baby girl dresses using my ancient iron, and she was reconsidering her love of ironing. And her desire to have children at some point in the future. And our friendship. But hey, I got my ironing done and someday soon, I’m going to put it all away.
2. I have become a Competitive Tired Person.
When I meet other tired, tired Mums, a strange competition ensues. We each talk about how little sleep we have had, how incredibly demanding our families have been and how insanely long our to-do lists are. It goes like this;
“I got 2 hours sleep last night before little Alfie woke up, and I have to go do a big grocery shop this afternoon. I’m so tired”
“Two hours?! You are lucky! I can’t remember the last time I got an hour’s unbroken sleep. And I have to give a presentation at work this afternoon, after I do the shopping”
“I haven’t slept in 2 years, I have to do the shopping this afternoon, take the kids to the dentist, worm the dog, make three dozen cupcakes and work a 12-hour night shift while knitting a blanket for orphaned bunnies”
You get the idea; it’s sad, and it’s embarrassing, but it’s the only sport we get.
3. I can treat myself
A fancy coffee, a sneaky cake, a fizzy drink; even though you don’t strictly need the extra calories, and the sugar rush is only good for a little while and makes you feel worse later, it’s still one of the greatest perks of not sleeping that you consider a little treat to be fair game. Ok, it doesn’t do my waistline any good, and I have to swap for a banana when the kids are paying attention (or begging me for sweets), but sometimes, it gets me through the day in a way that a handful of nuts just won’t.
People make it difficult to resist. They say things like, “oh you look so tired, let’s grab a coffee and a bite to eat and have a chat”, and before you know it you have eaten your body weight in carrot cake and had enough coffee, tea or fancy herbal stuff (because drinking herbal tea means you are allowed to eat more cake; that’s an official rule) to ensure you are awake all night because you need to pee, never mind how the baby sleeps.
4. It’s my one great excuse.
No matter what is going on in your day or in your life, what you have done or forgotten to do, how you look or even what your mood is like, being a tired, tired Mum buys you a certain amount of leeway with other people, especially if they have kids and always if they have experience of a non-sleeper themselves.
My brain cannot hold onto things, like when I forgot to buy nappies or when I forgot what day it was (every day since baby number 2 was born), to big forgotten things like forgetting to pick my Granny up (she was fine, she’s fitter than I am, to be honest), forgetting to send lunch to school (he was fine, they fed him) or forgetting how old my baby is (she was born in the summer, not that last one, the one before it, I think). But in each case, I have the excuse that I NEVER sleep. This happened in the supermarket yesterday when I was half way out the door with about 6 bags of groceries.
“Excuse me, you have forgotten to pay for your items”
“Oh, I’m sorry, I went to bed at 2am and got up at 4am”
“No problem, don’t worry, gosh you must be tired!”
It’s the same with how you look; master of the messy bun or going to school with pyjamas under your coat, who is going to question your style if you announce that you have been up since 5am watching Peppa Pig.
People are either understanding of your plight, or so frightened by your lack of grooming and odd, manically smiling demeanour, that they simply let you do whatever you want. Either way it works out fine.
5. I have learned to relax a little
I don’t panic now if my older child hasn’t done his reading homework. I know that he will catch up and that it isn’t the end of the world. I don’t freak out if the housework isn’t done. That’s not quite accurate; I don’t even notice if the housework isn’t done. I don’t compare myself to other Mums just as much as I used to because maybe they have sleeping babies, or maybe they don’t, but we all have our own struggles to get on with and our own problems to manage.
Mine is being a tired, tired Mum, but that isn’t the worst thing to be. Even being a tired, tired Mum with no idea what day it is, a Granny who is wandering around looking for you and a friend who is systematically force-feeding you cake to avoid you bursting into tears; none of it is quite as bad as it looked a little while ago. Actually, I think things are going to get better pretty soon. In fact, around about bedtime, things should be just fine. For an hour.