One of the hardest parts of having two very young and demanding children is the all-nighters you have to pull on a far too regular basis.
There’s that awful moment when you look at the clock, realise it’s 5am, your toddler will be up in an hour and you haven’t slept at all.
Now you’ve got to face a day with not one but two little people with a never-ending string of demands. You can’t call in sick, you can’t rope anyone else in to do it for you and you can’t ask the kids to kindly take care of themselves for the day.
Here are some great (some totally daft) ideas on how to cope:
1. Create a safe zone
The goal here is to make a room so childproof and so safe that you don’t have to get up from your sitting position at all for at least one hour.
Tidying and moving furniture might be too much for you to cope with right now.
In this case, consider taping bubble wrap or a pillow around your kids, paying particular attention to the head. Make sure they can still breath (obviously) and now they can bash into every edge in the room without injury. Ta-da! NOTE: Do not do this, I think your health visitor would consider it “bad parenting”.
2. Have emergency distractions
Stickers are often your best line of defence here. If you can keep a stash of new ones somewhere then you can whip them out when you’re feeling at your worst. This will distract your toddler for at least 30 minutes.
However, if you also have a baby to contend with, this could create a problem in contravention to tip number one, creating a safe zone. Your toddler will drop stickers on the floor and your baby will attempt to swallow them before choking. This creates more work for you.
Instead consider a DVD, puzzle or an etch-a-sketch.
A new book is a bad idea as this requires parental involvement.
3. Remove all of the batteries
Sleep deprivation can cause headaches and leave your nerves on edge.
You don’t want that bloody toy train singing about going to the zoo all day.
Take out the batteries, hide them and say you will buy some more tomorrow.
4. Lie to yourself
This is one of those days where guilt can strike. It’s not the kids’ fault that you they’ve been keeping you up all night, they’re just doing what children do. So you feel bad for not being the ultimate hero mummy powering through your fatigue and still managing to do everything.
The thing is, we don’t have limitless energy and sleep deprivation is a killer. So lie to yourself.
Crisps are potatoes. Potatoes are a vegetable. Therefore it’s fine for your kids to eat them all day. You’re not just giving crisps to them to keep them quiet, no no no.
Children’s television is full of educational stuff and helps to develop language skills, so watching it all day is actually a really good idea.
Children need to learn mummy won’t always give in to their every demand. It does them good to develop independence. This one is actually kind of true in my opinion.
5. Build a nest
I know you’re not a bird, but hear me out.
Having a lie down on the sofa is great but at some point you will have a small person crying on the floor next to you because they want to be on there with you.
Then you face them squirming all over you and worry they’re about to dive off the edge.
Instead of this get your duvet downstairs, put it on the floor and get some cushions on there too. Lie down and create a cosy space for yourself here. This way your kids can climb on you whenever they want and you don’t have to move. Boom!
6. Venture out only in emergencies
This includes getting snacks and coffee. If you are insane enough to enter a coffee shop then get your drink to go. Attempting to cope with two kids in a busy cafe on no sleep is a recipe for a parenting disaster.
If you even think the words soft play you may die.
7. Do not answer the door
You’re emotionally vulnerable and your judgement is severely impaired due to the lack of sleep. This will be the day that all manner of door-to-door irritants will knock.
You will end up signing up to a monthly direct debit for Save The Gnat and supporting a petition to allow the local college to open a bar next door to your home. Double glazing salesmen, politicians and Jehovah’s Witnesses may also pick this day to give you an earful.
Just close the curtains and hide.
Do you have any tips for coping after you’ve been up all night? I would love to hear them.