Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sleep Deprivation

Ah, the bread and butter of parenting. Whether you're up with a colicky baby at midnight, changing your child’s sheets at three in the morning or waiting up for your teenage daughter to get home while you watch the sun claw its way into the Eastern sky; if you're a parent you've been there. Let's face it, if you've got a little one in the house the chances of you getting a good night's sleep are, at best, a coin toss.

So how do we cope? For all you new parents out there I'd say get yourself acclimatized and fast. You don't want this particular aspect of parenting sneaking up on you unaware. Oh sure, lots of books and experts will tell you to get your rest when you can. Good advice. However, before you reach that stage it's a good idea to figure out not only how you'll react to acute sleep deprivation but how to remain functional between those night time naps. Moreover, if you know there's a good chance you'll be up at night prep your environment beforehand. If you're going to be doing midnight feedings prep the bottles of similac before you rack out. Likewise, if you even suspect your child might be ill lay down a towel under them or stash a bucket within easy reach of the bed just on the off chance you wake up to the unique sound of your child's gag reflex kicking in. The few seconds you'll save knowing where that particular vomit receptacle is might just net you a few extra minutes sleep later on instead of being stuck changing some very funky smelling Dora sheets.

Seriously, being prepared in this respect does wonders for that whole long-term-child-survivability thing. For me, I found the best way for me to learn this particular skillset was through military service. The thinking goes something like this: If you can handle live ammunition and enough explosives to stop a small armoured vehicle on two days without sleep, chances are you can walk the floor with a croupy child at three in the morning and remain calm. Is it hard? Hell, yeah. Why do you think the national average birth rate is dropping. Somebody talked. However, if you do find yourself facing imminent parenthood the secret is don't panic. For all you new parents out there, or parents to be, I can tell you this. You do get used to it. Last weekend I flew back from overseas. Travel time? 21 hours with no sleep stuck in one economy class seat after another with a bunch of drunken Germans seated behind me providing my soundtrack for the flight. When I came home I prepared dinner, gave my son a bath, read him stories and put him to bed and though things got kind of blurry towards the end at least I managed to cover the basics (at least I think I did). Bottom line? It's doable. Besides, just think of when your own kids are grown. They, too, will get to see that half-mad twinkle in your eye when they mention how THEIR kids are keeping them up at night. Remember, that crazed giggle you hear from your parents whenever you kvetch about how tired you are? Now at least you know what caused it.

A couple more pictures from Geneva:

Me and Chateau Chillon

The Chateau on the road to Montreaux. This place doesn't come in unphotogenic.

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