The household appliance that saved me from sleep deprivation

 Photo: Getty Images

It very quickly became apparent that despite being in possession of a chin identical to mine, my (admittedly very gorgeous) newborn son and I had wildly different interests. He wasn't a fan of sleep in the slightest, while I've always been rather fond of it. And despite my best efforts to talk him around to the joys of slumber, we found ourselves in a sleepless stalemate.

And it was HELL.

My eyeballs ached. I wandered, zombie-like, in a state of consciousness somewhere between asleep and awake. My limbs were heavy and my heart was spent. I was constantly on the verge of tears, or crying into my tenth caffeinated beverage of the day. We all desperately needed sleep.

I tried everything. I was too tired to drive, so the car - something many others had suggested - was well and truly out. Pram walks helped, long strolls through the back streets of my neighbourhood. Or strapping my little one to my chest in the baby carrier, his ear pressed close to my heart. He'd sleep for a little while that way ... but only if we were moving.

All I wanted, though, was to stop, to collapse. I couldn't keep walking. I couldn't keep moving.

And then one day, my husband and I stumbled on the magical solution that saved our fast-disappearing sanity: the vacuum. Yep, that beautiful, neglected, dust-covered vacuum came to our rescue at exactly the right time.

I have no idea how we discovered that the sound of the vacuum put my son to sleep. I'd like to say it was while he was sitting blissfully in his baby bouncer while I completed a spot of housework one day, but that would be a lie. Housework was happening about as frequently as sleep at that stage. That part is a blur.

Nevertheless, it worked. It worked like a charm.

I'd put my baby down, switch the vacuum on (placed in another room, just to clarify, and at an appropriate sound level), and within minutes he'd be out cold. I felt like a Baby Whisperer, a Goddess of Baby Sleep.


Rather than use the vacuum itself (ain't nobody got time for that), and to ensure it was at a safe volume, we soon stumbled across the world of White Noise apps, available on the interwebs. Vacuum noise? Friends, there's an app (or five) for that. For the bargain price of about $1.57, I was sold. (Apparently they even sell white noise machines these days. What a time to be alive!)

I remember some friends dropping by one morning to meet our little boy for the first time. As they came to the front door, one of them, upon hearing the vacuum in the background said, "Oh, I hope you're not cleaning on our account."

"Christ no," I told her. "I love you guys, but not that much. The vacuum is the only thing that will get him to sleep." I can only imagine what my neighbours thought: erroneously, I'd say, that I had the cleanest house on the block.

Even though it worked and we were all enjoying some much-needed sleep, I had my moments of guilt and worry. What if I'm setting my child up for a lifetime of bad habits? I'd wonder. What if my son is 22 years old and still soothing himself to sleep with a vacuum app?

Happily/sadly, it became evident that my son wasn't doomed to a life of requiring the vacuum as a sleep aid. When he was around four months old, the magic wore off. The vacuum no longer worked. My son had come to the sad realisation that he didn't want his world to sound like the womb anymore, and that was that. Game over.

But boy, oh boy, it was good while it lasted.