“Get ready for sleepless nights” is the most often heard phrase by every parent-to-be from the whole world. And then when we become parents, it dawns on us how true this is. Sleep deprivation is a by product of parenthood and I don’t think there is a single day since my daughter’s birth when I have slept as many hours as I used to before bearing my child. My husband sometimes pokes fun at me about how earlier I used to grumble over not having slept enough even if it was just an hour less than my precious “8 hours sleep”. Today, each hour of sleep I get is gold. My daughter is now 22 months old and I still am awaiting the day when she will sleep through the night. Though it’s a different matter that my mom says that even then, because my body cycle has changed, I may not be sleeping through the night and I have a feeling that she might be right.
Talk to anyone about the dearth of sleep in your life and invariably the advice you would get instantly is – “Sleep when the baby sleeps”. I give that advice too at times, because what else can be the solution for lack of sleep but to sleep, right? How I wish it was that easy! Because, there is a whole lot of multiple small or big tasks to be done in a day too, and the same people would advice you to do those tasks as well when the baby sleeps. So effectively, am expected to sleep, clean, cook, get some ‘me’ time and do all other important chores when the baby sleeps, eh? And that too with a baby who isn’t much of a sound sleeper anyways! Let me narrate a typical day of my life – let’s say today. I put my daughter to sleep at her usual nap time in the afternoon. After ensuring she is in deep slumber, I cleaned up the mess she had created while having her lunch. Then I put some of her toys back in the toy basket to make place for us to be able to walk. Post that, I set the curd in the kitchen and went back to the room to catch some sleep myself. In a few minutes, I fell asleep, only to be woken up by the incessant ringing of my intercom telephone. The call was from my society’s main gate security asking whether I should allow the courier person to come home. After I answered in the affirmative, I sat in the living room waiting for the courier. Once I received it, I heard a loud cry and discovered that my daughter had woken up possibly due to the sound of the doorbell. I patted her back to sleep and by then had lost my own sleep. I suddenly remembered that the electricity bill payment is due and opened my laptop to pay the bill online. When the transaction was complete, it was time for my daughter’s nap to end. So much for sleeping when the baby sleeps! People say that everything can wait and to forget it all and just doze off. But, most of the days that’s not possible due to unavoidable work. If it’s not courier or bill payment, it’s someone else or something else. On certain days, even if there’s nothing, you aren’t able to sleep even if you want to. Once my daughter calls it a night, I sit down to blog and complete my writing assignments, because I cannot even think of working when she is awake with her jumping on my laptop.
This is my situation even after hiring a cook and a maid, so I can only imagine the plight of the parents who have minimal household help. Hence, while it’s a sincere, amicable and well-meaning advice, “Sleep when the baby sleeps” ain’t happening here. Not yet!