Any home that includes a child under the age of five will include a sleep war at one point or another. And I'm not talking about the tribulations involved with getting a child to go to sleep, to stay asleep or to sleep more than five hours a night, but rather the full-on wars parents have with one another when the day's discussion turns to the subject of who has had the most sleep and who needs MORE sleep.
We spent New Year's Eve with friends in Norfolk. They also have two children and the youngest is nine months and still being breast-fed so he is waking up two or three times in the night to feed and snuggle up with mum. Having learnt something from the sleep deprivation caused by child number 1, our friends now have a structured system whereby Mum gets up in the night and dad gets up in the morning (every morning) so mum can catch up on sleep. I find this pretty heroic considering the dad goes out to work every day but the mother insists that a day's work is totally achievable if you've had six hours solid sleep. She may be right. Needless to say, despite the system, they are both equally shattered and can still easily slip into an argument about who had the most sleep and who might be entitled to an afternoon nap at the weekend.
Mmm... It all sounds horribly familiar.
After Elvis was born, we adopted a similar system of me getting up in the night and the husband dealing with the early mornings. When the baby hit nine months I decided to wean him. The day he gulped down three big bottles of milk, he slept through the night. Ah- the moment all parents dream about! We have since enjoyed a few months of relatively uninterrupted sleep but recently due to illness and bouts of teething, we have had to put pay to the glory of a decent night's sleep. Elvis is now waking up crying a fair bit and will moan (or shriek) until he is cuddled and allowed to snuggle down with us. I have always been a bit of a stickler about not having the children in our bed, mostly because the bed just isn't big enough and because I also seem to develop insomnia the moment a small, snuffling thing is tucked up beside me. So we try to resettle him in the cot but as all parents know, this doesn't always work. After a restless night the baby wakes up at the crack of dawn. Since both my husband and I work part time we take turns with these dreaded, early mornings.
We try to be fair, we try to not care about who gets up when, but it is hard not to feel annoyed when you have to haul yourself out of bed for the umpteenth time whilst your partner sleeps on. It is hard not to feel resentful when your better half has a cosy lie in and you have to deal with the crying, the whinging and yet another overly cheerful episode of Postman Pat. Even if you do take in in turns, because lets face it, even with odd lie in (and by lie in I mean 7 rather than 5 or 6 am) you never really stop feeling tired.
Our friends in Norfolk are able to laugh about their sleep wars. The mum joked that when things get really bad, she actually wants to get physical (she feigned a punch to the jaw) and I kind of understood what she meant. Not that I would ever throw a punch (at anyone mind) but there's nothing like a bad nights sleep (over and over again) to make you feel massively, hugely pissed off with those you love and frankly with the whole entire world.
Here's to (trying to) laugh in the face of sleeplessness!