If our household had a motto it would be: qui super omnia amatur somnus.

Above all else, sleep.

Our coat of arms would be two pillows crossed over an unmade bed.

We are a home of two adults who have a deep and abiding passion and love for sleep, a toddler who seems to hate sleeping at night with the fire of a thousand suns, and a newborn who is learning to sleep.

In the night-time wars what side will our newest human choose? Will he choose the light and literally wake at 5am every morning to meet the sun just like our oldest did for an entire year? Will he choose his own bed? Will he choose sleep? Unaccompanied? At night?

Our toddler is convinced that at night mummy and daddy get out his trains and have raging “Thomasdatankasian” parties. He thinks we get out the playdough and make really cool shit FOR HOURS. He thinks we play Zoom Zoom Zoom We’re Going To The Moon on repeat while taking turns lifting each other up and spinning around at the lift off part. If he sleeps, his patron saint Jay Laga’aia might turn up to personally sing him RockABye Your Bear and upon seeing him asleep promptly leave and never make another episode of Jay’s Jungle or Playschool again. So he must not sleep. Ever. And if he does, it must be with us. So that he knows we are not playing matchbox cars without him.

He has an excellent sense of humour. When he stays at Nanna’s house (we love nanna more than any one person could love any one thing) he puts himself to sleep at around seven or eight and sleeps in his own fucking bed for 13 fucking hours. We try to replicate the exact conditions but it does not fucking work. Short of moving in with her (which surprisingly she’s not keen on) we can’t get the same result.

She shows great sympathy for our predicament. She also never gives unsolicited advice. A kindness I will be thankful for for all of my sleepless eternity. After two years we don’t need anymore advice. But we still get it. Oh do we Get It.

I find the best way to cope with unsolicited, unwanted advice is to imagine stabbing the person giving it repeatedly in the face thousands of times. It makes you smile, which releases endorphins, which stops you actually stabbing the person.

When they smugly mutter “consistency is key” with their stupid smug mouth I imagine them being eaten by a shark.

“Show him who is boss”
“Tough love is key”
“Co-sleeping is the only way”
“If you do that he will never leave your bed”
“Use a night light”
“Put amber beads in a blender and give it to him each night with a chaser of nightwishshade oil”
“Draw a pentagram on the floor of your lounge, light eight candles, and sacrifice a virgin on a full moon”

Look, I promise you I’ve tried every type of ritualistic animal slaughter and worship of a deity there is – consistently. There’s only so many virgin blood cocktails I can drink.

So here’s what we do, consistently, we do the only thing that feels right for this hopefully short-lived period of our lives – we choose sleep over all else.

Each night we kiss each other in the hallway and that kiss says the following:

I hope you get sleep but mostly I hope I get sleep. And whoever gets the most sleep will carry us through the next day and remind us that we are a family that loves each other very much.

Then we go off to the trenches with a stoic nod of the head. He, a broken man, climbs awkwardly into the bunk bed. I get the easier (some nights) option and climb into our bed and snuggle with our newborn (he’s five weeks but I feel like he was born yesterday because there’s been so little sleep in those five weeks).

This is the path of less resistance. He isn’t woken by the newborn. This is pacifism in action. If he wakes he is comforted and settled by daddy. If that means not sleeping in his own bed – so be it. Sleep – wherever it happens – is all that matters. It won’t be forever but it feels a bit like forever.

We meet in the morning bleary eyed. He makes me a coffee. I squeeze his shoulder and cover the toddler’s face in smooches.

Our gorgeous, perfect, firecracker of a child, who gives us so much joy every day, who is every single kind of adorable, my gentle, hilarious, sweet and spirited boy, beams up at me:


I catch my husband’s eye and we try not to laugh. I start to make another coffee. One for the road.

We’re going to the beach.


If you liked this, follow me on Facebook for more of the same. I’m on Instagram too!

19 Comments on “Sleep

  1. I think I love you! Laughed to the point of snort 🙂

  2. I belly laughed through your whole post. It is all to familiar to us also. I love the way you put it into words.

  3. I’m laughing so hard I’m crying. Especially at this:

    “When he stays at Nanna’s house (we love nanna more than any one person could love any one thing) he puts himself to sleep at around seven or eight and sleeps in his own fucking bed for 13 fucking hours. We try to replicate the exact conditions but it does not fucking work.”

    I think I might have been this child. I’m going to go ring my mum and apologise to her.

    MJ xx

  4. Oh my god…. I think I have been a smug……yeek

  5. I thank whoever may be listening daily that I have a toddler that sleeps. I think maybe it’s self preservation on her part as I know I’m not a very nice person when I’m short on sleep! I do remember the first night she slept through and I woke up feeling drunk. I’d forgotten what a full night’s sleep felt like! I really couldn’t cope so my heart goes out to you xx

  6. Being at the coal face of parenting while being massively sleep-deprived is a mixture of torture and a marvel. It’s amazing the endurance of the human body and spirit. Everything you wrote about the sleep (or lack thereof) habits of small children was familiar – like a trauma flashback. I sometimes wonder how I survived so many years of so little sleep (chronic insomnia in my teens may have been good training) and truthfully I’m not sure my brain did entirely survive.

  7. You are clearly much more fun than Nanna. Or maybe Nanna has some tricks up her sleeve. Pharmaceutical tricks. Not casting any aspersions here but it’s worth considering. Oh, and good luck trying to find a virgin to sacrifice – although it’s been rumoured that there’s usually a few in the IT department in most universities.

  8. Lol add one more toddler and a slightly older baby and we’re living the same life. Consistently sleep deprived, slightly zombie, loving these tiny humans that are incredible and little stinkers at the same time. I hope you get some sleep tonight, we’ll be fighting the good fight in our house too.

  9. So true and very funny. Sometimes I fantasise about being able to sleep for five or more hours together on my own, without being woken by the sound of screaming, or being repeatedly slapped in the face by podgy baby hands or without hearing that chilling call from across the landing,

    “Muuuuuuuuuuuuummmmm mmmmeeeeeeee!”

  10. I love your motto! We only have the one 2 month old right now, so, in theory, we have the advantage. Though my husband doesn’t share my obsessive love of sleep, he also does not lactate, so his nights are relatively safe.

  11. Bwahahaha! Oh how I needed to read this today! Thank you. Wishing you better sleep tonight.

  12. I love this. Our motto is, do whatever gets the most people the most sleep…and it has looked LOTS of ways in 3 kids and 8 year. I don’t care where I sleep or who I sleep next to as long as I’m unconscious as much as possible Thank God Dh agrees. I’ve been told it will ruin our marriage, that there is a sacredness to the “marital bed”, blah, blah….you know what’s sacred in this house??? SLEEP

    • Hahaha yes. And what if I kill my husband because of lack of sleep? Then the “marital bed” is just a bed.

  13. Oh god SLEEP hands down the most stress inducing thing of my whole life as a parent– so far! “It won’t be forever, but it feels like forever.” So true! Once I wrote a love letter to sleep on my blog: Fingers crossed for you girl– sometimes that’s the best we can do!

  14. I ache for you and your lack of sleep. Some wise friend once told me, “Sleep deprivation is a form of torture. It’s what we do to enemies.” You are a hero for surviving this stage without killing someone. Another tidbit of advice that got me through, “Hide the frying pan.” Because believe me, you’ll want to use it on your spouse at some point. And they’ll probably deserve it. Good luck. You are doing well if all are alive. Even if you don’t feel as if you are most days.

  15. Thanks so much for this post! I have no real words (too tired) but my first thought on being screeched awake this morning at 5am after four hours of broken sleep was “oh noooooooooooooo another day”, and my second thought was “I’m going to fucking drown, I’m drowning”, and my third thought was “quick, find something beautiful and hang onto it for dear life”…and I remembered how much I’ve been enjoying the fun and connection and depth of your posts, came here, and red this post. FEEL SO MUCH BETTER. Blessings to you and your writing Emily.