Sleep deprivation is real, and really freaking hard. It would be a really good way to make me break during an interrogation, because if someone promised me a solid eight hours of sleep I would agree to almost anything. Unfortunately, because it's such a common experience, and because we moms laugh about things to keep from crying, there are quite a few things people feel fine saying to sleep deprived moms that are so not cute or funny or helpful. Like, at all.
As a family with a newborn, we are in the "acute sleep deprivation" phase, when you are often so tired you feel like you're going to die. In our experience, this phase will be followed by the "yay, we can finally sleep again" phase, which ends up actually only being one or two nights of rest before a sleep regression happens and you start to wonder if you will actually make it out alive.
To make matters worse (yes, they can get worse), people think it's totally fine to say things to me like, "You look tired." WTF? Who says that? It's just mean. Also, I can do without "helpful" advice about co-sleeping, sleep training, and "sleeping when the baby sleeps." It really doesn't seem all that helpful when you've tried everything to get baby to sleep and nothing works the way the books say it will. Then, there's the victim-blaming comments like, "You know you signed up for this." What does that even mean?
The next time you think it's wise to say something to a sleep deprived mom, it better be, "Here, let me take the baby so you can get some sleep," or "Here, have some wine," because other comments, like the ones below, are not welcome at all.
"They're Only Little Once"
Thanks, Captain Obvious, I totally know that. However, if I want to survive long enough to see them grow to adulthood, I need to get some freaking sleep.
"Have You Tried Sleep Training?"
My partner and I have tried just about everything, except letting our baby cry, not because I think parents who do that are terrible, but because I have severe anxiety and personally can't handle it. Bedtimes have ranged from "quick and easy" to "long and involved" for each of our kids at various points in their lives. Unfortunately, when one starts to transition to quick and easy bedtime, one of the others inevitably needs more bedtime attention. I'm so glad there are two of us, because when I was a single mom I pretty much gave up on bedtime and let them sleep with me.
"My Baby Slept Through The Night From The Beginning"
Now you're just being mean. I mean, do you want a cookie? A medal? A parade? Unless you have a magic spell you can teach me, all you're doing is bragging.
"You Should Try Co-Sleeping"
Been there, done that, the kids slept like babies. I, on the otherhand, had to try to sleep with one child's elbow in my face and another's foot in my spleen. Not very conducive to a good night's rest.
"Sleep Deprivation Could Kill You"
I believe it, but I don't actually want to hear about it.
"You Look Tired"
Who says that? Would you say this to anyone else who wasn't a new mother surviving on zero sleep day in and day out?
What you really mean when you say this is that you think I look terrible, and you finally have a socially acceptable way to tell me. Grrr.
"Why Don't You Go To Bed Earlier?"
Between getting off from work, homework, dinner, feeding the baby, and our nighttime routine, there's only so many hours in the day. Most days, going to bed early seems impossible.
"You Signed Up For This"
Just because someone willingly became a parent doesn't mean you shouldn't have empathy for them during difficult situations.
"You Have No One To Blame But Yourself"
Yes, I know. I actually am probably to blame for my kids' lousy sleep and my resulting sleep deprivation. Me, and Daylight Saving Time, thunderstorms, scary YouTube videos, the cat getting locked in their room, "another bedtime story," growth spurts, hot weather, stomach bugs, midnight snack cravings, diaper blow outs, the mosquito buzzing around their heads, growing pains, potty training, "another drink of water," and becoming a parent in the first place.