Sleep, for parents, is a funny thing. Yep, it’s absolutely hilarious. Because when your children are babies, you’re awake more than half the night with them and end up barely functioning due to sheer exhaustion. But then, as they get older and start to reliably sleep through (if you’re lucky), you could feasibly return to the good old days of getting eight hours sleep a night, at least occasionally.
But strangely, you don’t.
And why? Because oh, those precious hours. Those few wonderful hours at night when everyone else is sound asleep. Those blissful, silent hours when CBeebies has long gone to bed, no one needs you to re-style Barbie’s hair for the 8236th time and you’re able to just sit down on the sofa, completely and utterly alone. Who in their right mind would waste all that glorious solitary time on something as mundane as sleep?
However, sadly, there comes a point in every parent’s life when sleep-dodging has to stop. When those beautiful hours of late night peace have to be sacrificed (at least temporarily) on health and safety grounds. And how do you know when you’ve reached that point? When stuff like this starts to become normal…
1. You find yourself taking 12 turkey meatballs to bed
Much as a toddler can be ‘too tired to sleep’ (and what on earth is that all about anyway?), a similar ‘too tired to go to bed’ phenomenon can affect parents. This happens when the mere thought of climbing the stairs, cleaning your teeth and getting into bed becomes simply too much to bear and so despite being utterly exhausted, there you sit on the sofa, vacantly staring at ‘999 What’s Your Emergency in 24 Hours A&E Custody’ or whatever it is, and wondering what you should get out of the freezer for the next day’s dinner, while at the same time searching for people on Facebook that you haven’t seen in 20 years and didn’t really know back then either, if you’re honest about it…
When you finally manage the Herculean effort of climbing the stairs in your now delirious state, usually around midnight, it’s always best to make sure that whatever you finally decided to take out of the freezer for dinner is defrosting in the fridge, and not still in your hands, because there’s nothing worse than coming back from the bathroom at 3am to find 12 turkey meatballs thawing on your bedside table.
It happened to me, and it could happen to you.
2. You find yourself moisturising your face with hair serum
Let’s be honest – on eight hours sleep a night, the whole cleanse, tone and moisturise thing is hardly a challenge. But when you’ve been averaging five or six hours’ sleep a night for a good few months, anything that brings your face into contact with water probably counts as a beauty regime.
Start to get any less sleep than that, however, and the slope is slippery. One minute you’re congratulating yourself on (for once) managing to take your make up off before bed. The next, you’re accidentally washing your hair with shower gel and moisturising your face with hair serum.
Again, it happened to me.
3. You occasionally take your breakfast cereal with boiling water
If the most basic of activities are starting to become a bit more of a challenge, take this as a sign that you need to get to bed earlier. If you catch yourself sitting at a red light with the engine running while wondering where you put your car keys, searching high and low to find the punnet of grapes you bought the previous day, only to discover them 3 days later in the freezer, or pouring boiling water onto your cereal instead of into your mug in the morning, chances are, you need your bed.
Of course there are many more signs that an early night is in order, but to be honest, I’m far too sleep deprived at the minute to be able to think of them. Help me out – when do you know it’s time for an early night? Let me know in the comments. I’m taking my own advice and going to bed (or will be soon – or perhaps soon-ish . But definitely in the next hour or so. Maybe….).