Wednesday, November 9, 2011

'Sleep When The Baby Sleeps' and Other Stupid Stuff

It's probably meant to be a helpful tip from experienced parents to newbies.  They offer it with knowing nods and smiles, helping those below them on the parenting ladder with this crucial advice: Sleep when the baby sleeps, they say. 

Once, I acknowledged this with wide, doe-eyes and a tremulous heart.  Oh, of COURSE!  THANK you for your help! 

Now, though, I know better.  When experienced parents tell this to their first-time counterparts, they're really issuing a warning as frightening as any apocalyptic prophesy.  They're saying (with their heads spinning maniacally, mouths foaming, and eyes rolling heavenward) YOU'LL ONLY EVER SLEEP AGAIN IF IT'S WHEN THE BABY ALLOWS THE STARS TO ALIGN AND HIS OWN GASSY EMISSIONS TO BRIEFLY HALT THEIR IRRITATING MINISTRATIONS ON YOUR BEHALF.  YOU. HAVE. BEEN. WARNED.

Really, the better advice would be to learn how to survive on no sleep at all.  Now THAT would be worthwhile knowledge!  Because no matter how sleepy a child is, the instant you lay his head down on a surface that is anything other than human skin, he may feign sleep momentarily.  You may be lulled into thinking he will persist in rest.  You may even tiptoe to the nearest bed or couch or unforgiving kitchen floor to lay down your own head. 


As soon as you breathe that single, exultant exhalation and reach for a blanket or pillow with which to celebrate your victory....

The baby will awaken. 

It has been foretold.  It has been passed down from generation to exhausted generation, and the method of its transmission is this seemingly benign advice

If you so happen to be on the receiving end of Sleep when the baby sleeps, you can retain your tenuous grip on sanity by remembering the truth behind the words.  The threat behind them. 

And you can answer with a kind-hearted and effusively gracious:

No thanks.  I think I'll shower/eat/stare into the ether/contemplate the demise of Kris Humphries/write an unintelligible blog post instead. 

It just makes sense.



  1. Your so funny! My baby is 10 months and she STILL doesnt sleep throught the night. Maybe thats why this cracked me up so much, my eyes are very bleary as I am typing this...

  2. What if they never sleep? Lol! My 2 year old is still waking up 2-4 times every single night, and my 6 month old is the only one who naps during the day, I feel your pain.

  3. Well said. And staring into the ether is an undervalued pastime.
    Also, that part about the baby who will wake the moment your head touches the pillow. That's totally how my first ended up sleeping next to me. If her head NEVER left skin contact, she stayed asleep for more than 10 minutes.
    The other skill parents need - instant sleep. It takes me too long to wind down. Like just the right amount of time for a baby to get hungry.
    Oh, and I'm scared. I need more sleep, not less....

  4. And this is clearly advice that only pertains when you have the one child, who you can maybe co-sleep with ~ cause clearly older siblings have not time for the idea of family nap time.

  5. YES.

    (And a little prayer for a bit more sleep for you, my friend!)

  6. I'm sorry you're so sleep-deprived, honey. I want to say something wise and helpful here, like "this won't last forever," but less annoying. I can't really think of anything though (being sleep-deprived is just too awful for me to be encouraging about it), so instead I'll tell you: this was the best blog-post title EVER. Even when you're grumpy, you make me smile!

  7. *laughing* :) I'm glad you find time to write, even when you should probably be trying to sleep. ;p

  8. Oh It totally makes sense! It's one of those things that everyone thinks they're supposed to say but actually doesn't make any sense if you think about it! Plus focusing just on getting sleep? sleep is so rare it's better not to! Great post! :-)

  9. Oh yes. Times twenty million. There is almost no reason to sleep because, well, we all know the LAW OF THE SLEEPING BABY.

  10. "the instant you lay his head down on a surface that is other than human skin..." So True! None of my babies have slept for any real length of time when put down in a bed. (Except sometimes I could eke out the sleep a bit longer if I could sneakily transfer the sleeping baby into the swing without waking up.)

    Finally with my third baby I figured out how to sleep while holding a sleeping baby. (Which got me lectures from the stupid nurses at the hospital who kept telling me it was dangerous to sleep with a baby in my arms.) Especially this technique for laying with the baby's head cradled on my elbow so that he would stay asleep. But that only works so long as the older kids don't come in and start screaming... and wake the baby.

  11. Oh Sarah! Hilarious that we blogged about the exact same thing on the same day! I hope you are getting some rest and that your beautiful boy isn't keeping you up too much!


Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?