Disclaimer: my partner and I have opted to divide up parenting responsibilities as equally as possible, so much of my mothering experience has been extremely tied to my partner's fathering. So, when he experiences a change to his schedule and our regular routine needs to be adjusted, it affects me greatly. Deeply. Inescapably. Being the only parent at home changes how you sleep, and definitely not for the better. Case in point, my partner was working on a film project a few weeks back that required night shoots. This left our toddler’s bedtime entirely in my hands, and also left me to my own devices when it came time to (attempt) to get myself to bed, too.
I failed miserably. I’m almost embarrassed to admit it because I’m well aware that many moms and dads (both single and coupled) have arrangements that require them to solo parent at night time (and beyond). Still, there's no denying that when I was the only parent at home, what should have been nothing more than a minor disruption ended up being way more challenging to navigate than I expected. Like, my toddler's sleep schedule was thrown off and my own sleep schedule was thrown way off, which all affected how well I functioned during the day, too.
Thankfully, now that things have returned to normal (whatever "normal" is), I’ve had a chance to put together this handy compilation of just what it’s like to juggle your own sleep when trying to multi-task and care for a child, especially when you’re used to sharing the responsibility. I'm sure the time will come when I am the only parent at home, again, and I better as hell be prepared. Ugh. Just thinking about it makes me tired...
You Deny That You Need To Sleep At All
Who needs sleep? Isn't the joke that parents of young children aren't supposed to sleep anyway? Aren't I suppose to say, "I'll sleep when I'm dead!"? Forget sleep! Who needs it? Not me. No way.
You Notice Every. Single. Sound. Your Home Makes.
Maybe sleeping would be a good idea, actually. Then I wouldn't be hearing the sound of claws on the kitchen floor or constantly thinking back to that ill-advised scary movie I just watched. Yeah, I need sleep.
Endless Snacking Sessions
Well, if I'm going to be awake for a while I might as well be satiated, right?
You Leave All The Lights On In Your Home
What? Doesn't everyone like to pretend it's broad daylight while eating cheese at 10 at night to ward off possible intruders that definitely don't exist but I've clearly manifested in my sleep-deprived mind? No, just me?
You Look To Movies And TV To Keep You Company And Delay Your Own Bedtime
I mean, Jurassic World is not going to watch itself.
You Spend More Time Than You Care To Admit, Trying To Think Of An Excuse To Go Check On Your Child (Again)
Technically yes, I understand that I can check on my kid whenever I want, but I still try not to be, like, excessive about it.
You Check The Locks Multiple Times
What's the old saying? "The grass is always greener when the locks are checked?"
You Check The Stove Multiple Times
"Rules were made to be broken, stoves were made to be checked...?"
You Wonder Why You Only Reach Peak Productivity When It's The Middle Of The Night
I can't stop now and leave these novel ideas not fully outlined in my journal. That'd be silly.
You Turn Up The Baby Monitor To A Way Louder Setting Than Usual...
There are multiple reasons for this, but an especially nice one is that it drowns out the claws I keep hearing on the kitchen floor. I know something is out there.
...Then You Stare At The Monitor Instead Of Sleeping
I suppose it's a good thing that one of us is asleep.
Once You Close Your Eyes, You Have All The Thoughts
Not that I don't have thoughts when my partner is around, it's just that I'm not alone with them.
You Resent Being The Only Grown-Up Around...
Isn't there someone I can call or someone I can hire or someone I can bribe, so that I can actually sleep? Anyone? Bueller?
...Especially When Your Kid Refuses To Sleep Or Wakes Up Multiples Times A Night
It seems like my kid has the hardest time going (and staying) asleep, when it's just me at home. I swear, my kid knows, you guys. He knows and he is hell-bent on making me suffer a sleepless existence.
All The Late-Night Snuggles Are Yours, And That's Awesome
Sometimes, not having to share is just the best.