It’s one of the great new parent battlegrounds: how much (or how little) sleep did you get last night? Some parents whip out the milestone cards to announce the joyous moment their little munchkin sleeps through the night at six weeks, others – like me – are almost three years in and literally cannot remember the last time they got more than four hours in a stretch. (My kid eats like a champion though, so I’m winning there, if nowhere else.)
Well, one website wants to help(?) you out, by allowing you to calculate exactly how much sleep you’ve sacrificed to the parenting gods. It is based on information from an academic study of almost 5000 people, looking at the long term of effects of pregnancy and childbirth on parents. It followed new mums and dads for up to six years after their kid is born. (The theory being that by the time they’re six, most kids have sorted themselves out and realised that their bed is one of the greatest places they can possibly be.)
The limit does not exist
According to the calculator, things are pretty grim. Apparently, I have lost 893 hours of sleep in just 2.5 years which does seem like an insane amount, but when I actually stopped to think just exactly how badly my kid snoozes, I feel like it’s not really painting the whole picture.
The calculator takes into consideration the date of your child’s birth, and whether you are male or female (assuming that mums get up to their babies more than dads).
It also asks whether you breastfed, again, assuming that if you did, you got up more often than if your baby had a bottle.
It doesn’t ask you how many kids you have, how long you breastfed for, if your child(ren) have had any medical issues, how, if and when you – or your partner – went back to work or, y’know, if your kid was basically a holy terror who flat-out refused to sleep more than 45 minutes a day (or night) and was branded a “ratbag” by his paediatrician. (Just to pull a completely random example out of the clear blue sky…)
Anyway, so while I feel like the calculator is a bit basic, it’s still suggesting I lose on average at least 38 hours sleep a month, which is equal to a a week at a full-time job. That is a heck of a lot of sleep to just go down the drain. And my kid should (in theory) be getting a bit better by now. Imagine what it’s like for brand new parents who are up half a dozen times a night, with all this ahead of them?
It’s good for bragging rights
Look, there’s no doubt the calculator is definitely flawed. Apart from having pretty narrow parameters, it also doesn’t take into consideration the other end of the spectrum- the brilliant sleepers, the heads of the pack, the milestone-card smashers… But it does give you a general sense of just how badly our kids destroy our shut-eye, and if nothing else, that makes you realise you’re not crazy, you really are just flat-out exhausted.
And while some might wonder the merit in pitting tired parents against each other in a battle to find the most shattered in the pack, I think the calculator is a good thing. I think there’s some sweet validation in seeing your results and realising parents are basically superhuman. But let’s face it, along with the validation you also deserve a medal – or at least a night in a fancy hotel with room service and block out blinds – to celebrate how hard you are smashing life considering how damn tired you are.
This article was first published on Kidspot and was republished here with permission.