I often feel like a cat given the opportunity I will nap anywhere. Sydney my eldest son decided to set his alarm clock for 5.45am the other day, I got up, switched off the alarm. He rolled over went back to sleep but I remained awake. I find it easy to fall to sleep but if I get woken up thats it I am WIDE AWAKE , especially in the summer months when its really light, and  then I really struggle to function on little sleep the next day. Thursday  was awful mainly due to my dawn awakening, I struggled to string a meaningful sentence together and it got me thinking about the affects of sleep deprivation on wellbeing, and co-sleeping with children.

Sydney was a terrible sleeper, he did’nt sleep through the night until he was four, I was totally exhausted most of the time. He slept in bed with me when he was little, I had read Three in a bed by Deborah Jackson when I was pregnant, and despite my partners reservations about sharing our bed with baby, I was convinced that this was a good idea, especially with breast feeding through the night. Bed sharing was definately survival strategy, and it was lovely to cuddle my son close to me in the dark of the night, and feel safe and secure.

Naoise was a much more relaxed baby but still I did suffer, as most parents do in that first year, to feed him through the night and then stay awake throughout the next day. Changing nappies, dressing, undressing, feeding, cuddling and soothing a baby is such incredibly physical and mental work…..then they start moving around and it all gets a little more complex and even more knackering, chasing children, picking them up, keeping them safe, stopping them from climbing the book cases, dealing with tantrums, playing, clearing up congealed porridge and food from highchairs and floors. With my second child, I did learn to be kinder to myself, I lowered my expectations of tidying, cleaning and housework and spent many a lazy afternoon sat up in bed reading stories when I had no energy for anything else.

I am not sure how parents manage those first three months, recovering from birth and looking after a new born around the clock, snatching periods of half sleep in-between. It was only when Naoise was a year old that I could properly read again, digest information, contemplate being creative, and only after I had drunk at least a whole teapot or a cup of coffee that resembled tar !

About Helen Sargeant

I am a visual artist, mother of two children aged 12 and 4, and co-founder of the MeWe arts collective. I intend to use this site to explore how my personal experiences as a mother informs my arts practice. To reflect upon the maternal in relationship to memory, loss, and mental health in particu…Read more


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