I think I’d forgotten what that felt like! Since the early, hellish, days of around the clock feeding, crying and pooing, we’ve been lucky enough to be gifted a Good Sleeper. Make no mistake, I definitely thought about trying to send her back for the first three months. A lot. But after the first 12 weeks (hallelujah, the fourth trimester!) we actually settled into a reasonable routine and my husband and I returned from the brink.
I’ve always thought of myself as a sleep fanatic, going truly above and beyond in pursuit of extra shut-eye, so to me night-time waking was an extra hard smack in the face. And extra galling that it should rear its ugly head again now!
A combination of things has led to my current state: work; raising a two-year-old; work; family stuff; trying to plan a holiday; work; having a life outside work; and, oh yes, work.
There’s a reason that sleep deprivation is used as a torture method. It’s just not nice.
I know I’m trying to do too much and, most of the time, when I’m just about on top of things it works. You know the saying: ‘If you want something done, ask a busy person’? That’s me. I enjoy being busy and getting things done, but on this occasion it might be time to admit that even I may have piled the barrow too high.
Tiredness sucks. I think actually it’s worse when you think you’re out of the woods and the exhaustion is even harder, because you’re not used to it. As a society we sort of accept that not getting enough ZZZZZZZZs from time to time is ok — it’s almost a badge of honour to be getting too little sleep, whether that is due to the office, new baby, being out partying (totally relate) or any number of other reasons. But there’s a reason that sleep deprivation is used as a torture method. It’s just not nice.
We’re urged to seek help at a lot of junctures on our parenting journey, but most of them at the early stages, say under a year. Once we’ve passed a year, it seems as if a lot of us (me included) feel like we’ve passed some invisible test and proved yourself as a parent, so really you shouldn’t be asking for help any more. WRONG.
Just know that it’s OK not to be ok. It’s OK to ask for help. More than that, you need to be at your best to be your best parent self.
Do it, mamas! Do it, papas! You’re strong, but however strong you are, there are times when we can’t cope. Like me now. Like after a miscarriage. Like when you have too much work to cope with. Like when you have PND. Like when you’re just having a Really Shitty Day.
So I’m here to say it’s OK. If you’re a mum/dadjuggler, mum/dadboss, mum/dadpreneur, it might be calling up a fellow freelancer and seeing if you can work together on something, or enlisting a part-time PA. If you’re struggling with your little ones, farm them out to family or friends. If you need some sleep, try getting a massage and then completely wasting your money by falling asleep on the table. Whatever works for you.
Just know that it’s OK not to be OK. It’s OK to ask for help. More than that, you need to be at your best to be your best parent self. So if you’re not doing it for you, do it for the kids.
All photographs by Clio Wood.