When you have your first child, you realize quickly that pretty much everyone you know is secretly a parenting expert. Unbeknownst to you, your friends, relatives, co-workers, and even total strangers have been waiting for years for you to bring home a little bundle of joy, and they’re ready to share their wisdom.
One nugget you’ll hear again and again? “Sleep when your baby sleeps.” Seems so simple, right? Babies allegedly sleep as many as 16 hours a day, and the typical adult only needs about half that. The math works!
But hold up. That well-meaning advice is directly at odds with reality for me and I suspect many other moms and dads. Here’s what I’m often doing when the baby is dozing:
1. Cleaning stuff.
People always say “the chores can wait” when you have a baby at home, as if I’m polishing silverware and spontaneously rearranging my furniture. I’m actually doing important stuff like making bottles and washing onesies. Both very basic, very necessary tasks that prevent the authorities from seizing my child.
But rushing in and out of the bathroom in three minutes or less, in case the baby wakes up.
3. Having adult time.
Going to spare you the details here.
Whether I’m firing up Netflix or cracking open a good book, it’s sure to help me unwind. It’s also sure to somehow wake my baby up in about 7 minutes.
5. Shopping on Amazon.
Prime time no longer has anything to do with TV. It’s all about leaving the “buy now with 1 click” button smoking because there’s no way I’m making it to the store before my baby poops her way through the last pack of diapers.
6. Occasionally also sleeping.
But waking up approximately every half hour to check that she’s still breathing, pop a pacifier back in, etc.
7. Deciding not to sleep.
Because I’m just going to be woken up again in a half hour anyway.
“Sleep when the baby sleeps” is just not the cure-all its repeaters believe it to be. I would love, like heart-eyes emoji love, to sprawl out every two hours just like my baby. But life gets in the way, and sleep deprivation is just a fact of it right now. Soon enough though, my little one will grow out of this stage (or so I pray), and then I’ll be the veteran parent with sage advice to share with others. I think you know what it won’t include.
About the Author
Kristina Johnson is a new mom, writer, and TV producer living in New York City. She loves her little girl madly but can admit that she wouldn’t mind if babies came with an off button. Her interests include, Netflix, books, and fending off awkward questions about when she’s having baby number 2. You can check out her blog at thatmommylady.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.