I was the lucky recipient of endless pieces of unsolicited advice when I found out I was going to be a mom (you know, like most mothers are). How to give birth and where to give birth and what to eat and how to handle pregnancy ailments, all discussed endlessly. Some helped, some didn't, but by far, hands down, the most frequently piece of advice I heard was, "sleep when the baby sleeps.” It’s almost as if it’s ingrained in well-wishers' minds as something quick and easy to offer new parents, sandwiched between "congratulations" and where to register for baby gifts.
Now, I don’t mean to turn my nose at anyone who’s trying to help and offer genuine suggestions. Honestly, it can be super helpful and I think the majority of advice, unsolicited or not, comes from a genuine place of excitement and a willingness to help. Having said that, and the truth is, sleeping when the baby sleeps would have required a mysterious state of enlightenment that afforded me the priceless ability to stop doing and thinking long enough to simply rest. As a new mother, exhausted but anxious and nervous and excited and attempting to adjust, that "state of enlightenment" was never going to happen.
I’m not sure about everyone else, but I was much more inclined (ahem, willing) to sleep when the baby was in the care of someone else, specifically his dad or a grandparent. Not that I never slept when the baby slept, because I totally did, but building a routine around that piece of advice was not realistic. At least, not for me. And so, on that note, may I offer a tiny sample of some of the silent, mental responses a new mom just might have when someone tells her to “sleep when the baby sleeps.”