As soon as people find out you are having a baby, they are eager to give advice, whether or not it is actually solicited. In their defense they are just excited for you and have been waiting to share their acquired wisdom. And when said advice is first heard, it sounds glorious, as if each tidbit of top secret parent information will surely make our impending life change much easier. But alas, we soon learn that some is pure gold, some is pure crap, and the rest falls somewhere between helpful and cliche.
Some of the more popular nuggets:
It’s hard – This isn’t said enough. Having a child is wonderful, but it’s hard. I would rather you be honest with me and burst my “I’m-so-happy-we are-having-a-baby” bubble than lie and say that the love for my child will always trump the struggle.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help – This should not have to be asked. People should be eager to lend a hand with cooking, cleaning, etc. to make your life easier during this tumultuous time.
Sleep when the baby sleeps – This isn’t too bad. This is possible (we did it a few times) and is much easier to do when the baby is sleeping 90% of the day. But it’s still pretty difficult when previously mundane tasks like eating and bathing still need to be done, and begins to border on cliche.
However, I think the absolute worst piece of parenting advice I received was this: sleep as much as you can before the baby. Stop and think about that for a second, because anyone that utters those eight words hasn’t. It literally makes no logical sense.
Sleep as much as you can before the baby.
Are you saying that I don’t already try to get as much sleep as possible? Wait, maybe you’re suggesting that I should try harder to sleep more? Or maybe you’re saying that since I have a child on the way, I should alter my already busy life to make more time for sleep now because I won’t have the freedom to magically create time later? Hate to break it to you, but unless you’ve figured out how to freeze time like the robot girl in Small Wonder so I can sneak in a nap at work, you’re no help.
Furthermore, what am I supposed to do with the “extra sleep” I am advised to get? I can’t deposit it into the Bank for Sleep Deprived Parents or open a Sleep IRA and reap the rewards of compounding interest. I also can’t store sleep in my cheeks for when it is severely rationed by a newborn. I can’t barter my saved up sleep with other groggy parents for a “Stop Baby Crying” pill or trade it for more vacation at work. I can’t donate my saved sleep to my baby who takes 30-minute crap naps or wakes up at 5am. It just doesn’t work that way and you know that.
So please, the next time you are going to give advice to expectant parents, please, for the love of every sleep-deprived, caffeine-addicted, poop-covered, pee-soaked parent out there, do not suggest that they sleep as much as they can now. I’m pretty sure they already know that their days of “extra” sleep are dwindling.