What Not to Say To A Sleep Deprived Mum

sleep deprived mum
The twins have me on my toes again. Just when I thought we were past the worst of the night-waking in our house, here I am, back in the land of sleep-deprivation. Make that accumulated sleep-deprivation. Because a one-off night of waking up to children can be recovered from with an extra coffee the next day and an early night. But when it’s multiple nights of interrupted sleep, it starts to affect everything.
For starters, it makes me feel unwell. My eyes sting, my head hurts. I feel like I’m coming down with something. But it’s not just the physical stuff that hurts. Sleep-deprivation is emotional. It’s lonely, frustrating and crazy-making. And that’s before you start comparing yourself to mothers of babies who appear to be doing alright in the sleep department. Because then you start adding guilt and inferiority to the list.

It’s not surprising that I’m in this place again. I don’t do myself any favours with the sleep thing, because I go to my babies the minute they start crying. I’m sure you’ve been there – that moment when a crying baby wakes you at 3am and you think, ‘I will do whatever it takes to get you back to sleep right this minute’. It’s a desperate moment but quite a clear one. I want to sleep. At night-time, I want to sleep. Even if it is on my stupid couch-bed. And I don’t want any other children woken up. So off I race to silence the crying child.

Anyway, I get it. I know it’s a short-term thing. It can be fixed. It’s probably something to do with teething or they’re too cold or they becoming unwell. It’s something that will come and go, and one day soon I’ll be sleeping more than an hour at a time.

But geez it makes me ratty. And sensitive. Irrational.

In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and say that the whole situation gets me a little bit BITEY.

Especially when people stay stuff that really doesn’t help. Stuff that just BOTHERS me.

sleep deprived mum 2


For example:

‘When you’re up, I’m up too.’

When I hear this one come at me in the morning, it honestly takes every tired ounce of me not to start barking. I actually feel myself bristle. Yep, I get what makes it hard for you – wife getting up all night, babies crying every other hour. Wife swearing furiously under her breath. It can be tough to take. But I bet all the LYING DOWN WITH YOUR EYES CLOSED HELPS!!!!!!

‘I couldn’t sleep last night. It was my back/my dog/my neighbour/the wind.’

I can’t relate to this. I could fall asleep in a building site – I don’t even need a pillow. I don’t get why you can’t sleep in these circumstances, and if you ask me, it all sounds a bit far-fetched. If children are asleep, there is no other noise. I don’t see the problem. Just close your eyes, snuggle down and enjoy your bed, dammit.

‘If it’s any consolation, you look great.’

Um…no I don’t. This is a bullshit token sentence and I’m calling it. I’M NOT SLEEPING. My body isn’t resting. I’m not eating because all the caffeine I’m consuming has messed with my appetite. Not even industrial strength concealer can help hide the dark, monstrous circles under my eyes. I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. Me looking great therefore, is very unlikely. So please don’t bother. And hang on a sec, how come I only get told I look great when I feel like shit? What about when I’m not tired? Nothing then, huh?

‘You look tired.’

Maybe just leave my appearance out of it all together, yeah? No one likes to be told this one, especially when it’s right on the money. A check-out lady at Woolworths told me this last year. I don’t make eye contact with her anymore.

‘My baby self-settles/sleeps through/is a good sleeper’

Why would you even??? These ones have reduced me to tired, emotional tears on more than one occasion. Look, it’s an unwritten rule amongst mothers of babies – DON’T BRAG ABOUT how good your baby is at sleeping. For us mums struggling with sleep, we’re just going to think you’re an arsehole, lying, or bitch about you to someone. Sorry. I’m sure you’re very nice, really.

This article was originally publish by TheLaneyFiles and has been republished here with permission.

Karina Lane

Karina is a mother to four small children that include toddling twins. They are all super cute and super needy! Getting through each day and making it to wine o'clock with her sanity intact is a true miracle! She loves her little brood and does her best to see the funny side of really messy, noisy and stressful situations.


  1. Yesterday I got from a young check out chick ‘oh you’re tired already,’ when I yawned. I snapped back that’s what happens when you have kids!

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