Stages of grief for parental sleep loss
Every parent dreads that time of day or night when their sleep is abruptly interrupted by a small human who has needs that have to be met immediately.
Some of us are fortunate enough to have kids who sleep a lot and wake up with little fuss.
Everyone else knows that it’s only a matter of time before precious minutes, even hours, of sleep will be commandeered by a miniature person who requires undivided attention.
Recently, I realized that there are stages of grief that accompany sleep loss.
1. Denial: When you hear the first indication that your child is awake, but you don’t want to believe that they’re awake.
She’s just stirring, she’ll go back to sleep in a minute.
He just had to go to the restroom. He’s still tired.
They’re all sleepwalking.
There’s a giant rat that knows how to open doors and is trying to jump in bed with me; I’ll have to call the Orkin man.
2. Anger: When you realize that your child is in fact awake and probably isn’t going back to sleep, and it makes you feel quite unhappy.
Why didn’t God give kids an on/off switch?
Why does my child hate me?
Why can’t she make her own bottle?
Why does he have to wake up at the butt crack of dawn EVERY MORNING?
3. Bargaining: At this point, you will do absolutely anything to get even a few more minutes of sleep. Sometimes the bargaining is done between parents.
Lord, I will feed the lepers if you give me 30 more minutes of sleep.
Lord, I promise to obey the speed limit if you will let him fall back to sleep.
I will complete the entire Honey Do List if you get up with them.
I will never leave my hair and beauty supplies just lying around if you feed her.
4. Depression: You realize that your time to sleep is gone and it isn’t coming back. You wish things were different. You think of how tired you will be for the rest of the day. You regret not going to sleep earlier. You wish you child would sleep more.
5. Acceptance: You accept that your child is awake and you groggily pry yourself out of bed to take care of them. You love sleep, but you love your child(ren) even more.