We’ve all seen the humorous meme doing the rounds on social media, haven’t we? The exhausted mother with the piles of laundry, stacks of dishes waiting to be scrubbed and toys all over the floor. And the words: Sleep when the baby sleeps? Ok, and should I also do the dishes when the baby does the dishes? Joking aside, it’s a piece of advice that is often given to new parents, and one that is often either ignored or taken with a pinch of salt. So do you sleep when baby sleeps?
Why tell new parents to sleep when baby sleeps?
A newborn baby is hard work. New parents, especially mothers who have just given birth, are likely to be exhausted in the early days. So when well meaning visitors share the advice to sleep when baby sleeps it really does come from a place of good intention. Trouble is, when you’re tired and hormonal, its not always well received!
So SHOULD new parents sleep when baby sleeps?
Short answer: yes. Yes, yes, YES! Sleep is so important and when you have a brand new baby to look after you are going to literally be on call 24 hours a day. And given that newborn babies tend to only sleep for small blocks of time (around two to four hours) day and night, you’re going to need to stock up as much as you can.
BUT, its not always that simple! Here are three easy tips to help you sleep when baby sleeps, and get the most from that rest in the early days.
Forget the chores
Or enlist the help of a willing volunteer to do them for a couple of weeks. Seriously, the dishes are going to be there when you wake up, and nobody is going to bat en eyelid if you opt for the nap rather than the kitchen sink. It doesn’t make any sense for you to work yourself down to the ground at this time. A good rule of thumb is to remember that a tired parent doesn’t always make a good parent, so do the best thing for your family and make YOU a priority too.
Accept all the help that’s offered, and ask for the help that isn’t
This is especially important if you have other children. It can be really hard work juggling older kids and a new baby, so if help is offered, take it! And if you’ve given those around you the impression that you don’t need help, make sure you ask for some too. Just an extra hour or two in the morning can make the world of difference when you’ve been up all night, so grab it if you can.
Don’t sweat it if you can’t sleep
The reason why ‘sleep when baby sleeps’ is the most frustrating advice you can give to a new parent? Because there is always SO MUCH else that needs doing. New babies bring with them more laundry and less time to clean- so to tell a new mother to ditch it all in favour of sleep when she might not want to is not exactly going to be appreciated! Plus, sometimes when the baby sleeps new parents like to use that time to actually do something for themselves for a moment- drink a hot cup of coffee, make a phone call, catch up on trash TV… Truth is, we can’t always sleep on demand and just because the baby has gone to slep doesn’t mean that we can switch off straight away and do the same thing. So if you literally cannot sleep when the baby does, don’t sweat it. Rest if you can, but if the sight of dirty dishes makes you feel anxious and upset then do them. No need to put extra pressure on yourself.
Do you sleep when baby sleeps?