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For the Love of God, Don't Tell Me to Sleep When the Baby Sleeps!

A young mother is surfing on internet by a smartphone, and her baby is sleeping by her side
Photograph by Getty Images

I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t tired. Now, even when sleep comes in surprising bursts, it’s appreciated but not often restorative—like the way I dozed on the couch while my kindergartener narrated every detail of his “Minecraft” adventures or the first time my baby slept through the night last month and I jerked awake at 5 a.m. with rock-hard boobs wondering if she was still alive.

As much as I crave a good, long, uninterrupted stretch of sleep, the well-meaning advice to “sleep when the baby sleeps” always sets me on edge. How can I sleep when there’s so much else to do?

RELATED: How I Finally Got My Toddler to Sleep Through the Night

Clean With No End Goal

When they sleep is when I race through household chores where each task lasts as long as my attention span. I’ll roam into the kitchen to empty the coffee pot and discover dried crud on the countertop and pull out the Magic Sponge and remember it also cleans the sink really well but see the disposal has some weird gunk in it so I abandon ship to go pee, picking up a trail of Hot Wheels along the way.

The truth is, you’ll probably hear me complain about how little rest I’ve gotten while I’m blearily staring at Facebook through bloodshot eyes...

Look Up Random Shit on the Internet

When they sleep is when I browse endlessly online, emerging with a cursory understanding of a healthcare savings account and the knowledge that a woman I literally haven’t interacted with in 20 years has moved back to Connecticut. My saved links of “stuff to read later” runs 30 articles deep and my browser history is a hodgepodge of ridiculousness spanning the spectrum from “Best baby carriers for men” to “Top Chef” discussion boards and opinion pieces on the latest atrocious Cabinet picks.

Watch All the TV

I love watching television so much. I don't remember most of what I did with all that free time before children but I do know that it involved some epic binge-watching sessions. These days, my TV watching is centered mostly on shows that don’t require much brainpower (everything always comes back “Top Chef”) digested over a constant stream of rewinding because I wandered away to get someone apple juice and forgot to come back. Occasionally, my husband and I watch a movie in 30-minute installments over the course of a week.

RELATED: Lack of Sleep is Easier with Newborns Than Older Kids

Prove I Still Have My Mojo

My most insanely creative streaks take place in the quietest moments. My brain becomes a Lazy Susan overflowing with all the things I should be writing. I just let my mind spin to see what sticks around the longest and then sometimes I write it. Other times I obsess over recipes, and either lose interest the moment I realize I’m missing most of the ingredients or squander precious hours on things like homemade lemon curd that no one in my household is interested in eating. Through most of these creative projects, I drink wine because screw it, everyone is already asleep.

The truth is, you’ll probably hear me complain about how little rest I’ve gotten while I’m blearily staring at Facebook through bloodshot eyes, and I accept that it's my own fault. But while I appreciate seasoned advice from women who have been tired for much longer that I have, please don't tell me to sleep when the baby (or anyone else in the household) is sleeping. I've simply got too much crap to do.

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