MODERN MUM: Sleep deprivation, runaway chickens and bum prints

Chasing chickens is all part of daily life for Louisa.

Chasing chickens is all part of daily life for Louisa. - Credit: Archant

‘Well I did skip a few of my own showers and opted for dry shampoo combined with deodorant..I liked the idea of a few minutes’ sleep over my own hygiene’.

Over the past few months, with the kids being back at school, we’ve all enjoyed settling back into a routine.

The school kids and toddler feel much happier and settled, they’re so happy to see their friends again. I’m pleased to say the teachers have really done a great job, in easing the children back to into school life.

However, all is not what it would seem on the surface of our household. My husband and I have been subjected to two months of sleep deprivation caused by our toddler having growth spurts, developmental leaps and teething in quick succession. This has played havoc with my brain and my mood. You just can’t get by on two-three hours of sleep a night whilst trying to keep everyone happy.

As your ability to perform simple tasks becomes harder, you go deeper and deeper into a depression. You feel useless, spill everything, your energy is gone and your concentration is limited to just a few seconds of hazy, coffee-stinking fog.

Looking back, the whole sadness and constant berating myself for struggling to function seems ridiculous. Everyone was safe, cared for, fed and clean….Well I did skip a few of my own showers and opted for dry shampoo combined with deodorant. I liked the idea of a few minutes sleep over my own hygiene.

Lack of sleep reduced me to this low point, but after trying every trick in the book, which is so hard to do when you can’t think, I did manage to finally get my toddler to sleep again. This instantly lifted my mood and I felt I could cope with the world again. I knew from experience that sleep deprivation would cause me to feel like this and it was only temporary. However, I still needed the support of my husband and my friends to talk me through this too.

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In the middle of feeling so low, with my brain doing odd things I always find the funniest and bizarre things happen. Ordering online is definitely hap-hazard when you’re tired, like ordering adults football socks instead of children’s socks. However, my most complicated order was when I responded to a local ad that offered two bags of free kindling. I thought ‘ah great. free wood’! I was the first to respond. It was so local I didn’t even have to get in the car. I thought ‘two small carrier bags of wood are pretty easy to carry’. Within minutes of me responding to the advert, they responded quickly and said I would need to bring a car or wheelbarrow. I looked at my husband and told him, ‘I’ve told someone I’ll have free kindling, but I think I’ve just said yes to two ton of it’!

My husband just rolled his eyes. This was my mess and with me being too polite to enquire further, I would just have to collect it.

This mission needed help so I enlisted my two oldest children, with one being reluctant to get their hands dirty and the other convinced there was spider in their glove. The plan was to drive the car over to the pick-up point, then I would return to collect the kids and a wheel barrow whilst their father looked after the toddler. Once I got to the collection point, I did see two bags with my name on them. To my relief they were two bin liners of kindling of which I proudly drove back home and paraded past my husband. The kids were a little confused as to why the wood was so small and why I thanked them. I was very pleased that they were willing to muck in and felt very proud of them.

This month we finally had the much-needed patio built in our garden. It was such a relief to finally have one installed, as I had a habit of falling out of my back door. I wasn’t drunk before you ask! The step down was so large that I always seemed to misjudge it and would end up diving off to one side, as if I was dodging a bullet in some dramatic movie scene. Unfortunately, there was never any dramatic music just the silence of the fall and the roars of laughter from my kids.

Whilst having the patio installed, I decided to let the chickens out of their large pen and have a run around the garden. As they were running around, the toddler and I took the lid off the raised hen coop and checked for eggs. When it was time to put the chickens away, I called ‘chickens’ but only five came back. Yes, it’s a bit unusual, but my chickens do come when I call them. It was then that I noticed the coop lid was off. The missing chicken must have jumped out of the top of the coop and into the field next door. To get into the field through the gate was not easy, so I had to talk to the builders installing the patio. Both of them kindly agreed to help me. We all walked around a field shouting chickens, whilst I carrying my toddler in one arm and waved an apple in the other (their favourite food). Sadly the builders and I had no luck, so I continued to shout ‘chickens’ in the garden. I message our village WhatsApp group to say my chicken was missing and I had neighbours looking over their fences for the chicken, all shouting ‘chickens’. Then finally I heard a strange short chirp, coming from the field. It was the chicken! It was trying to get back into the garden through some wire fencing. Phew! I had just enough time to put the chicken away, treat them all to an apple and collect the kids from school.

A few weeks later and with my sleep returned I felt I could attempt a new sensory play session with my toddler. We haven’t done very much and I was keen on him playing with paint but in a contained fashion for our first time. I had read online you can put different coloured paint in zip-lock bags and the babies enjoy squishing the colours together. This looked really good fun but I didn’t have a zip lock bag. I decided to use a tray, squirted with paint and clingfilm it all together. I placed it on the floor and I encouraged him to touch it, he really enjoyed touching it to begin with but then decided he wanted to sit on it. He found this artistic method the most fun, sitting on the paint tray in different places. So instead of finger prints and squiggly lines, I had bum prints!

Louisa also produces a Mums Guide to St Neots website which is available at: or:

07502 618 938.