Sleep while the baby is sleeping

            “Sleep while the baby is sleeping,” the tell me, beaming with beneficence and sure they have just offered sage advice.  “Sleep while the baby is sleeping.”  And I am lucky to have such wisdom heaped upon me, although I find myself with a few questions. 

            When the baby falls asleep in the car while I am driving her brothers to school, do I pull over right there on the 405 and go to sleep in the driver’s seat, or do I ask the four-year-old to take over at the wheel?  Also, when she falls asleep in the Bjorn while taking a walk around the neighborhood, how do I know which neighbors will not mind me going to sleep on their front lawn? 

            Now, I know I am not supposed to sleep with the baby in the bed, but when she wakes up every time I put her down, am I supposed to go with the SIDS warnings against the baby in the bed or the advice to sleep while the baby is sleeping?

            “Sleep while the baby is sleeping,” they instruct me.  This goes hand-in-hand with their other advice.  I am to make sure each of the other children gets a little alone time with me each day.  And I am to be sure to eat well and get some exercise.  And I am absolutely required to take a little time to do something nice for myself each day.  But all that salad-eating and toddler cuddle time and me-time has to happen – you guessed it – when the baby is sleeping.  Plus there are those annoying habits I got into way back before I had children: teeth brushing, face washing, and fingernail cutting.  I tend to find it easier to get those things done without a squalling infant in the room.

            “Sleep while the baby is sleeping,” they insist firmly, so often in fact that sleeping becomes just one more thing to feel guilty that I haven’t accomplished to the standards they are setting for me.  And I love that advice, really I do.  I love the naivety with which they offer it, as though it had never occurred to me that the best time to get rest is when the baby is also asleep.  But by the time I have eaten and showered and pumped (because they also tell me I MUST have a break and so she NEEDS to learn to take a relief bottle), it is twenty minutes before the next feeding.  It is not worth going to sleep, especially because, as soon as I do, someone is sure to call and tell me to sleep while the baby is sleeping.

            It is, however, just the right amount of time to write a blog post.

20 responses to “Sleep while the baby is sleeping

  1. That used to piss me off when I would hear it. Not so much with my first baby, of course. But after that. Like I can just sleep whenever I want to with two other boys that need me. Grrr.

    I think the proper advice would be to sleep when you can. 😉

  2. Wow, I thought I was the only one that was bothered by that particular unsolicited advice.

    I found that when my little one was sleeping, that’s when I had time for laundy, dishes, getting meals ready, sewing, vacuuming and cleaning.

    The best advice I got was from my midwife… ‘Just say thank you, and nod and smile. Then do what works for you.’

  3. It is remarkable the way that advice persists. Why, I should be sleeping right this moment, as my babe is asleep in my arm. That would give my toddler daughter some quality alone time to spread playdoh around the living room…

  4. THANK YOU. Sleep, my ass.

    I got to the point (and this has carried over, even though I am thankfully past the stage you’re in right now) that the thought of just drifting off to sleep, only to be awakened AGAIN by the sound of a baby crying, just made me angry. It was better for me to stay awake and not resent my babies for needing me.

    Hang in there. The best part about having done this before is that you know it will end. The hardest part is that she’s not the only one who needs you.

  5. I never managed to get a handle on sleeping while the baby sleeps either. Might have had something to do with the two other kids in my house not allowing sleep. But, I believe the few times I tried that the baby, seemed to hear my eyelids close and the loudness of my eyelid closing seem to wake the baby.

  6. if i had been writing blog posts when my kids were infants, you can bet that i would have been writing them as you are — WHEN you are.

    sleep while the baby’s sleeping is perhaps the worst a*svice a new mother can be given.

  7. On the 405….you might be able to catch some zzz’s there depending on the time of day.

    It’s sound advice, really it is. If you have no other life, job, kids or need for social interacting. Or you know, if you can actually sleep at say 2pm, which I’ve never been able to do. I find it funny how people will say it to a third time mom. Like, oh really, I’ve never heard that one before. Somehow I forgot all my baby skills in the oh three years since I’ve had one before and I need your help.

    The only assvice I give to anyone is enjoy it before they talk back. Now this is sound assvice. 🙂

  8. Of course it is appropriate that I am reading this with a squirming baby on my lap. A baby who only seems to sleep in the carrier when I or my other half is walking around. At least the weather isn’t too dark and grim– yet. 🙂

  9. “Sleep when the baby sleeps” should be banned from all conversations with a new mom, on penalty of being b*tch slapped with a day-old wet diaper and a onesie full of spit-up.

    Your musings about pulling over on the 405 for a catnap and snoring on the neighbor’s lawn, however, cracked me up.

  10. There are very few pieces of advice that annoy me as much as that one does. I mean, it makes sense to me, I suppose, especially if you DON’T have other kids or a house to take care of. And hey, maybe I’m just bitter about Alex, well, never sleeping so I could sleep.

    Who knows.

  11. ha ha ha ha ha

    my baby never slept during the day, so i never had to deal with those questions. my question was “and when would that be?”

  12. I SO hear you. It seems a bit appropriate advice for your first baby (sort of), but once you pass that mark and get into 2 and 3 — it all goes out the window.

    And while I prefer the babies sleep in the crib, there are definitely times that having them sleep (regardless of where) is more important.

    Oh, and if I had a front lawn, you’d be welcome to sleep there. Plus I’m too many blocks from the 405.

  13. Yes, I remember that. As if one’s sleep patterns weren’t already ripped to shreds by being awake when the baby is awake. With my son I often found I couldn’t sleep when the baby was sleeping at night! The pressure of having a mere two hour window before the next feed kept me frustratingly wide eyed.

    The sleep thing is impossible – might just as well blog instead and entertain us all!

  14. My friends and I laugh over that particular little piece of advice regularly… because we know it’s not always practical with your first, and rather impossible if you have existing wee ones!


  15. I always say eat while the baby is sleeping. How else will you get enough calories to keep up that milk supply?

  16. I know that the advice is crazy when you have another child, or 2. But it was sound when you had just 1, right? So, if you have someone around who can play with the kids, or do things while she is sleeping then TAKE THEM UP ON IT! But I know, these people exist only for the fortunate few. Good luck. While I loved my babies. I hated the first few months. I wish I’d been coherant enough to remember those months and try to enjoy the coos and stuff. Instead, I remember crying when I was peed or puked on at 3AM while The Husband slept so he could escape to work the next morning.

  17. Whoever came up with that sage advice must have either no children or a maid, a personal chef, and a nanny. Plus who are these “experts” who write these books on getting your child to sleep well at the “right” times? Again, clearly, they have no children. I’d complain some more but I have a squirming 8-month-old on my lap.

  18. Well said, Emily. Please submit this to a mothering magazine now. It is hilarious.

  19. Well, you’re just going to have to explain to that baby that she needs to take much longer naps, so you can get things done! 😉