I had coffee early this morning with a first time pregnant friend. She had decaf. You know, because #pregnant.
I had my third coffee of the morning. Because, you know, mum tired.
I asked how she was. And with that gorgeous first time expecting mum sigh, she said she was tired. Tired. Oh to be that kind of new-at-all-this tired.
You see I have 3 kids, which means that I have been tired for approximately 8 years now. But I don’t think you can even call it tired anymore. It’s a special kind of mum tired that only mums know about. Because I promise you, you don’t know tired until you’ve been mum tired. And only mums will know that there are in fact several types of mum tired.
This is a particularly brutal type of tired that comes on suddenly with the arrival of your newborn. Characteristics include staggering around like a participant in some strange sleep deprivation experiment. It’s like a test to see just how long a human can go without solid sleep. How many times a human can be woken in one night. And my special favourite – how many hours a human can cuddle a smaller crying human instead of sleeping. All of which equates to broken sleep and mum tired.
Following this special introductory stage, mum tired then changes into the when will it end? or why won’t they sleep? stage.
This stage starts when the baby is no longer a newborn and the mum starts to question why they still won’t sleep. The answer is simple: because they are a baby. Unfortunately most mums (myself included) will spend hours discussing, googling, reading and seeking the advice of experts to find another answer.
This stage is often characterised by trying all kinds of methods to encourage the baby to sleep better, often with increasing desperation. Whatever your chosen method, it all equates to entirely too much night time activity and mum tired.
This stage is elusive and often short lived but a joyous breather from mum tired.
In the following two years of babyhood there comes the teething and sickness stage of mum tired.
This is a particularly unpredictable stage when there may suddenly be little sleep because your cherub is cutting teeth or unwell with a myriad of childhood ailments. All of this means mums get little to no sleep while also worrying the night away about their precious one. This is also a particularly tricky stage as if you’ve just left the thank goodness they’re sleeping through period it’s a complete and utter culture shock to be this exhausted again. All equals, you guessed it, mum tired.
Just when things seem to settle down, there is the time for the big bed stage of tired.
Parents often mistake this for meaning that their toddler is going to transition from the cot into their own big bed. What it really means is that the toddler can now get out of said bed whenever they like and appear beside the parents’ big bed. Fight it if you will, but reality is that the toddler is most likely to go back to sleep between the two of you. Which means no sleep for you. Mum tired.
This stage can also overlap with a very special kind of torture; the I’ve wet the bed era.
This is a real cracker of a stage because not only do you have to get up, you also get to clean up a wee-covered child and change a wee-soaked bed. Fun fun times. Mum tired.
Now I’m sure that’s not all. Mums further along the mum tired journey tell me that whole new stages are still to come.
There’s sleepover tired (which should really be called I said go to sleep-over tired), child with driver’s licence tired and child out late tired (both better called why aren’t they home yet? tired.) But I’ve still got those to come…. somebody help me!
Back to my pregnant friend, her decaf and me with my triple shot espresso. I told her none of these things. I nodded and smiled and oh you poor thing. Because nothing can prepare you for mum tired. And no mum can explain it to you. Probably because we’re all too tired.