People just love to tell exhausted new moms “It’s simple, all you have to do is sleep when the baby sleeps!”
Only…it’s not so simple! As all new parents know, baby sleep comes in short, irregular naps. Not really enough to get any good rest.
How to handle it when someone says that
It depends on who is saying it. Most of the time the Smile, Nod, Say Thank You and then Do Whatever You Please approach to taking advice works well. Alternately, you could say something like “If only that worked!” and change the subject. A third approach would be asking for help. “Oh, I’d LOVE to be able to do that! If only someone could keep my toddler from destroying the house – and himself! Any chance you could take him for an afternoon so I could get a nap?”
How to get a little more sleep
all you have to do is sleep when the baby sleeps. Whoops! I almost fell into that trap again.
If you’re breastfeeding, it can help to figure out breastfeeding while laying down. If you keep the baby close (in your bed or in a bedside bassinet) it can make it easier for you to fall asleep again after waking for a feed.
If possible, have a partner or friend take care of the baby so you can get an occasional early bedtime. When things got really hard, my husband and I traded off days when we could go to bed a few hours early. I’ve done that for family and friends who needed a nap or early bedtime as well. Don’t be afraid to ask!
If you find you can’t sleep, even when you have the opportunity, please check with your midwife or doctor to see if there is something going on.
And finally, if you’re feeling like you need to “bounce back” or prove that you can do it all, please know that you can let go of those expectations. If you do a little less housework, a little less cooking, etc. you might make more time for sleep. Now that might not be possible, but do some thinking to see if it is.
And one last thing…
Whoever came up with the saying “Sleep Like a Baby” and thought it meant sleeping well was an idiot!