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10 Things I’d Do For a Night of Sleep

I have a two-month-old baby boy, just recently home from the NICU (along with a four-year-old son who still barely sleeps through the night). So while there are plenty of things I am grateful for, good sleep… not so much, and probably not for a while. Here are 10 things I would happily do in exchange for one night of uninterrupted sleep.

1. Clean the Car.  Sure, it doesn’t sound like much, but you can’t imagine how many meals you could make just using the food stuck to the back seat – it’s like the grossest possible episode of Chopped. Even my four-year-old has started to complain about the mess and he’s the cause of all of it. When I took the car to our local police station to get the infant seat installed, upon lifting my toddler’s car seat, the officer said, “I hope this car isn’t a lease.” There may be more sand from the preschool’s sandbox in our car than is still at my son’s preschool. But, in exchange for one night of sleep, I’d make the car sparkle like never before. How? I have no idea. Paper towel?

2. Volunteer to Run the Nursery School Lice Check. Last week, a professional nitpicker came to my kid’s preschool and looked in everyone’s hair — without gloves, my son reports — for living things. I have never had lice, but Google tells me it’s a nightmare. I would never want to be the one who checks a hundred preschoolers for lice but I would totally do it for one night of sleep. (I’d even eat the lice.) (Kidding!) (Mostly.)

3. Let my 4-Year-Old Have My iPhone for a Full Hour.  I just have to be more relaxed about it, right? There is probably nothing irreversible he can do in an hour. I can probably recover any emails he deletes. He probably won’t send everyone I know an invitation to join LinkedIn. There’s almost no chance he’ll find the picture of our clogged toilet that I texted to the plumber… and post it on Facebook. Almost no chance. And he knows better than to drop my phone in the garbage disposal. I’m pretty sure.

4. Host the Cocktail Party of My Worst Nightmares.  And, no, I don’t mean with the usual suspects: Stalin, Mussolini, the supermarket cashier with an obvious cold who tried to touch my son’s hand right after sneezing. I mean I would have drinks with all those people who glibly say that having a newborn baby isn’t so hard — those people who say to “just sleep when the baby sleeps.” That is such worthless advice. First of all, you can’t sleep when the baby sleeps and still have time to brush your teeth, pee, shower, or shovel food into your mouth. Second, how do you sleep when the baby sleeping sounds like a construction site? No one tells you how noisy babies are!

5. Eat My 4-Year-Old’s Ideal Menu for a Day. If left to his own devices, my 4-year-old would have chocolate chips for breakfast, a block of cheddar cheese for lunch, one piece of every cereal in the supermarket for snack, and potato chips dipped in a glass of juice for dinner. Oh, and an entire bottle of colored sprinkles as a pick-me-up throughout the day. Sounds delicious.

6. Play the “Elmo’s World” song on Repeat for Three Days. Despite my best efforts, my four-year-old’s musical tastes begin with Mary Had a Little Lamb and end with Elmo. If there is a more ardent opponent of the radio, I haven’t met him. “Only kid’s music!” is his battle cry, and usually I just decide it’s not worth it and we read books instead. But for sleep, I’d do it — throw at me all the Elmo you can find.

7. Let My Son Use Glitter. IN THE HOUSE. Whoever invented glitter couldn’t possibly have had children, right? In fact, I imagine it was invented by an evil villain, just to torture parents. What redeeming quality could possibly offset the fact that it ends up everywhere and can never be removed? There has been a single, solitary piece of blue glitter under my son’s chin for about two years now. I’ve found glitter on socks, glitter on the toilet seat, glitter in oatmeal. It’s like the world didn’t think Play-Doh was invasive enough and had to come up with something even worse.

8. Tackle “The Pile.” I’m sure you have one, too. A towering stack of receipts, expired Radio Shack coupons, some old copies of Life Magazine, an organized, comprehensive to-do list you made six months ago and then promptly misplaced. It’s probably hours of work to go through it and put everything where it belongs, but when are those hours? Right now — or, wait… just after I take a nap.

9 Take My Baby to the Doctor for Ten More Weight Checks.  Shouldn’t doctors make house calls for newborns? Here’s one of my least favorite activities: taking a baby into the germ factory that is a pediatrician’s office, just to undress him (cold!) and weigh him on a scale that hasn’t been calibrated since the Reagan administration. He’s cranky because it’s time to eat (it’s always time to eat) and he’s missing his nap (it’s always time to nap) and, oops, I forgot to bring a clean diaper.  Guess he’s going back into the car seat in the wet one. Not that it matters (see #1).

10. Pay a night nurse.  Oh, wait, no, I would never do that — how could anyone ever outsource the care of their perfect, adorable children and miss these precious moments that, in the end, go by so quickly, and– oh, no, I would totally pay a night nurse, I just don’t trust strangers and hate spending money.  Oh well, my most realistic idea for getting sleep, and… that’s okay, I’ll sleep when they’re teenagers. Sure I will.



Jeremy Blachman lives in Scarsdale, NY, with his wife and two sons. He is the author of two novels, Anonymous Lawyer and The Curve (co-authored), both of which have been developed for television with NBC. He's currently working on a new novel about fatherhood. Read more at www.jeremyblachman.com.