The Ridiculous Sleep Skills We Develop as Parents

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You get pregnant. You don’t sleep. You have a baby. You really don’t sleep. Your baby grows up. You sort of start sleeping.

Six years later, a recent study reports you finally start to return to normal levels of sleep. All of this deprivation for the sake of baby feeding, snuggling, rocking, paci-replacing, and diaper changing has left us with some serious skills if you think about it.

  1. The Zombie Rock: This move takes place around 3 a.m. in front of the crib, when the baby needs just five more minutes of rocking to ensure when you put him or her down, that they will stay down. Parents engaging in this rhythmic dance resemble zombie slow dancers, swaying side-to-side as if to an old-fashioned song at a wedding, with eyes closed. Parents may lose their balance here and there and jolt awake, pretending nothing happened and that they had total control the whole time. The baby will never tell.
  2. The One-Ear-Open Doze: So your baby is sick. Or in a stage. A leap. Something. Everyone finally lays down to sleep… but only halfway, meaning one ear remains open during this half-awake half-asleep parenting purgatory. I’ve noticed (and I stereotype here) that men are more dead asleep (see skill 3) than their partners, who engage in the One-Ear-Open Doze with more attentiveness. Research backs this up, as the study mentioned above, which surveyed over 2,000 men in addition to women, showed that men are only losing 13 minutes of sleep by the baby’s third month, as opposed to women who are still losing over an hour nightly.
  3. The Possum (aka playing dead): My husband, as supportive as he is, is the master of the possum. If he seems so asleep that he looks basically unconscious, do I really want to work hard to wake him up to help me get the baby? Or is it easier at that point (and faster and less annoying) to do it myself? Pretty smart, men. Pretty smart.
  4. Sleeping When the Baby Sleeps: This, my friends, is the highest level of skill when it comes to parenting sleep tricks. It’s also the most annoying advice people give pregnant women at their showers. Only the most experienced parents I know can actually pull this off. When the baby goes to sleep, I rarely pass right out to get the most of my 90-minute break. Instead, it goes something like: flop on the bed relieved it’s over; check phone and catch up on 19 notifications since the last successful nap; half-heartedly fold some laundry before realizing I should be sleeping; finally doze off just to hear the baby wake up 20 minutes later. Hopefully, you’ve mastered this old advice better than I have.

In a nutshell, we are all skilled superheroes who should be applauded for enduring the insane roller coaster that is a baby learning to sleep. Congratulations to you all. You deserve a medal, or at least a three-hour nap.

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