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How to Pick Up Friends When You're a Sleep-Deprived Mom

by Emily of "Stolen Sleep"
Photo by: iStock

Motherhood can be lonely, but if you are sleep-deprived, it is a bit of a Catch 22. You crave adult company but at the same time you are too bloody tired for adult company. Some days, talking to anyone over the age of two seems like way too much effort. But on other days, you would quite like a moan, a laugh and a chat with someone who gets it.

But it is hard to make friends when you are always exhausted. Sleep deprivation makes it difficult to hold a decent conversation. It impairs your mental filter, tramples over your inhibitions and makes it hard to concentrate on what is being said. So unfortunately, sleep-deprived parents are not much of a catch.

But help is at hand! Here is my guide to picking up (tired) parents when you are sleep-deprived:


Let’s face it. Those well-rested parents with their clean hair and matching socks are well out of your league. They will discuss Annabel Karmel recipes, politics and the latest big TV show you still haven’t got around to watching while drinking decaf lattes. You will end up looking like an idiot and it’ll all end in tears. Your tears.

So Aim LOWER. Look for the parents wearing dark glasses and stained clothes who reek of dry shampoo and stale vomit. The ones feeding their babies an Ella’s Kitchen straight from the packet because they forgot to pack a spoon. These are the ones for you.


Bagging yourself a Sleep-Deprived Parent can be tricky on account of the fact they are often too tired to leave the house. But there are a few places you may be able to pick one up.

Old people cafes: You may assume that Starbucks is the exhausted mums hang out of choice, but the truth is many of them try to avoid those places. Instead they opt for the less popular back street tea rooms, or simply grab a free coffee from Waitrose and drink it in the car. The thing is, we are in it for the coffee ONLY. We do not want to queue, bump into ‘someone we know’ or be asked questions. Flat white? Latte? One or two shots? Decaf? Medium or large? Drink in or takeaway? Something to eat with that? Shut the hell up and give me caffeine.

Car parks: Any sleep-deprived parent will know that you DO not wake a (finally) sleeping baby. So when they fall asleep in the car it is a rare opportunity to sit and do nothing until they wake up.

Walking round (and round and round and round) the park: A sleep-hating baby will occasionally sleep in the pram. On the condition that the pram is moving. So although walking is an effort for the sleep-deprived parent, it is preferable to being Inside With A Grumpy Tired Baby.


When wooing an exhausted parent, it is important to remember that less is more. If you rush straight in with questions you’ll scare them off. Start with a statement that does not require an answer from them. A single sentence that lets them know that you are one of them is recommended. This way they can either smile and politely retreat or welcome the chance for a brief exchange with a fellow tired parent.


“I am so tired I have no idea what I have come in here for.”

“Sometimes I wish sleep had a face so I could punch it.”

For maximum effect, follow up by flicking your freshly dry-shampooed hair in their direction.


So you have met The One. You talked, you laughed, you moaned about how tired you are and you exchanged numbers. You feel like you have finally found someone who you could talk to. Really talk to. You know, about important stuff like ‘how to buy booze when you have babies with you without looking like a massive wino,’ or discuss how cheap stuff is in Aldi (seriously, £1.79 for a washing basket)! Someone who won’t get offended if you forget to reply to a text message or cancel plans at the last minute. Someone with whom you can drink coffee on your urine-stained sofa and put the world to rights (or maybe just list your top five savoury snacks).

A perfectly imperfect friend. Who you may never see again. Because sleep-deprived parents are really bad at making plans. They are forgetful, disorganised and rarely remember to return phone calls. But all is not lost. Thanks to the Internet you can enjoy an effort-free friendship without leaving the house. Make friends with The One Facebook, Twitter or What’s App.

Make grand plans to meet that you both know will probably never happen. Send each other selfies of you and your baby still awake at 4am; swear about dinner time and moan about bedtime – all from the comfort of your front room.

Bide your time and then one day, when you both start to feel marginally less knackered, maybe, just maybe, you’ll manage to meet up in real life.

Emily-Jane Clark is a journalist, writer and the creator of How To Survive A Sleep Thief – a humorous antithesis to baby sleep advice. She is also currently writing a book and hasn’t slept in four years so she is only to be approached if you are armed with coffee or wine or both. You can read more on website or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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