9 things not to say to a sleep-deprived parent

You might want to think twice before making a flippant comment to an exhausted parent.
You might want to think twice before making a flippant comment to an exhausted parent. Photo: Getty Images

Any mum will tell you that sleep deprivation is one of the most challenging things about bringing home a new baby.

So what could be even worse than dealing with it? Well, for starters, there's dealing with the comments and 'helpful' advice offered by others of course.

Yes, they may be said with the best of intentions, but when you're running on more coffee than oxygen, these flippant comments can just make you want to SNAP.

Here's an example of the things people used to say to me …

"You will never sleep properly again"

Great! Thanks! You have just confirmed my biggest fear. Now I can really get myself organised by cancelling any evening social events, stocking up on cupboards full of caffeine and waving goodbye to life as I've known it. This was exactly what I've been wanting to hear.

"You're looking really tired"

Oh no … here I was, thinking that I was disguising it so well, but it's good to know that I have failed, and still look like crap. Was it the carrier-sized bags under my eyes that gave it away, the fact that my t-shirt is on inside out, or witnessing me burst into tears over something totally insignificant?

"It will pass"


Yes, it will, you are totally right. It's common sense, and totally based on reality. After all, if time didn't pass the world wouldn't keep turning, would it?

But right now I don't want to know that it WILL pass – I just want to know WHEN!

"Enjoy the cuddles while you can"

Look, I love cuddling my baby as much as the next mother. But do I think it's unreasonable to do it for more than 18 hours of the day? In case you are struggling with that one, the answer is yes. I would enjoy the cuddles even more if there was time for me to enjoy other activities in the day too. Like sleeping.  

"My baby was such a great sleeper"

Really? While this is nice for you, it's really no help or, quite honestly, interest to me right now. Please refrain from making ANY kind of comments about your angel child again – unless you know the secret to getting every baby to sleep well, which, let's face it, is seemingly an impossible task.

"But this is the easy bit"

Okay, I'm really struggling with surviving on next to zero sleep and the whole adjusting to motherhood thing right now, so it's not really great time for you to brutally tell me that this is actually going to get worse. There's nothing like a reality check to make you want to throw yourself off the arm of the chair is there?

"Have you tried XYZ?"

Yes, yes and yes. Yes, I have read every single sleep training manual available, yes I have googled every potential symptom that could be preventing my baby from sleeping, and yes I have considered spending some of my maternity cash on a sleep whisperer. I have done all this, and yet still get no sleep.  

"Sleep when the baby sleeps"

It's a great idea in theory, but when will I eat, go to the toilet, and keep my house from being invaded by the health and safety authorities? I mean, really, how many loads of dirty washing is it acceptable to have lying all over the house?

"Well, you wanted a baby!"

This is about the most unsupportive comment you can hear – and yes, I did get told this doozy. Of course I wanted a baby, and of course I love him unconditionally. The fact that I'm sleep deprived doesn't change that.

But seriously, if you have nothing helpful to say right now, say nothing at all. After all, don't you know that a tired woman is a danger to cross?