13 Real (And Very Funny) Stories From Sleep-Deprived New Parents

From falling asleep standing up at work to accidentally putting breast milk in their cereal, here are 13 funny stories of sleep-deprived parents.

Originally Published: 
Julia Barnes for Fatherly

For new parents, sleep is a treasure worthy of a Nicolas Cage quest. It’s so rare, in fact, that the National Sleep Foundation estimates that new parents get 68 percent less sleep than they actually need. When you have kids, sleep deprivation is part of the gig. Consistent sleep-deprivation can negatively impact everything from your mood, to your brain function, to your overall judgement. In fact, being awake for more than 19 hours can affect your brain in the same way as being legally drunk. While it’s no laughing matter, the dizzying dose of sleep deprivation new parents experience does lead to some very funny stories. From falling asleep standing up at work to accidentally putting celery salt in their coffee, here are 13 funny stories from sleep-deprived new parents.

I Went to Work on a Saturday

“When you’re exhausted, your scheduling ability just tanks. Our daughter kept us up all week, and I think I may have logged about 10 hours of total sleep. I woke up one morning thinking it was Friday, got ready for work, and drove to the office. I leave before my wife gets up, so she didn’t even notice. I was like, ‘Awesome! No traffic!’ Then I got there, and the building was locked. I actually had to ask someone what day it was — I was like Marty McFly from Back to the Future.” — Darren, 37, Arizona

My Wife Let a Stray Cat in the House

“We don’t have a cat, but my wife did when she was little. There’s this stray cat that comes up to our door every once in a while, and he must have been hanging outside late at night. My wife was so tired that she just opened the door and let him in. It must have been a subconscious thing from when she was young, because she used to have to do that all the time. The stray cat came in and slept on the couch all night. I didn’t freak out, I just woke her up, pointed to it, and said, ‘So, who’s your new friend?’ He still comes around, even though we kicked him out.” — Matthew, 38, Michigan

I Fell Asleep at Work Propped Up on a Wall

“This was during a meeting at work. It was one of those garbage ‘all staff’ meetings we have every week, where everyone from the company gathers in a conference room. There are never enough seats, so I always stand. I propped myself up against a wall, the meeting started, and the next thing I know I’m being woken up by my boss’s secretary. I looked at the clock and 45 minutes had gone by! I stayed standing the whole time, and I was worried everyone saw me sleeping. But she said she was pretty sure she was the only one who noticed. Thank God.” — John, 36, New York

I Stubbed My Toe About a Dozen Times

“It almost made me wonder if I was being pranked for YouTube or something. I would walk downstairs, half-asleep, exhausted, in the middle of the night, and I would stub my big toe about twice a week. It was always on something different, too! The leg of the couch. The corner of the wall. It was like a scavenger hunt to see how many different places I could find to stub my toe. I don’t know how I didn’t break it.” — Riley, 35, Pennsylvania

My Wife Threw a Dirty Diaper in the Sink

“Changing a baby in the middle of the night is an ordeal. When our first son was born, I really had to concentrate and get in the zone to do it. So did my wife. She woke up one night, probably about 3 a.m., and changed his diaper with no problem. Then, apparently, she went to the trash can in the garage — which is near the kitchen — to throw it away. Fast forward to the next morning, and we came to find out she’d thrown it in the kitchen sink. She must’ve thought it was the trash can. It took a lot of bleach to make that sink seem safe again.” — Toby, 39, Iowa

I Poured Breast Milk Over My Trix

“Classic sitcom moment, here. My wife stored her breast milk in the refrigerator, and I mistook it for regular milk. I’m good for a midnight snack — usually cereal — about three times a week. So I stumbled downstairs and poured myself a bowl of Trix. I thought they tasted weird, but I was such a zombie eating them that I didn’t care. When my wife woke up the next morning and asked what happened to her breast milk, I put two and two together. Oops.” — Logan, 34, Minnesota

I Left Chicken Fingers in the Oven for Eight Hours

“I was so tired after being up all week that I was psyched when my wife said she was going to take the baby to her mother’s for a ‘girls’ night.’ I planned on making myself a spread of fried garbage food, including these chicken fingers I love. I put them in the oven, sat down to start a movie, then woke up about eight hours later. There was smoke in the kitchen but, luckily, the windows were open. The chicken fingers were charred completely through. They looked like sad, crispy turds just sitting there in the oven.” — Brandon, 38, Ohio

I Think I Bought a Nintendo on eBay for $800?

“One day a package shows up at my house addressed to me. I open it up, and it’s this mint condition Nintendo. Like still in the box and everything. Sweet, right? Then I unpack a little more and find a receipt from an eBay seller, with my name on it, saying I paid $800 for it. I don’t remember doing that, so I immediately go online, check for fraud, and so on. Nope. There it was, right on my account, with a ‘Buy It Now’ from about a week prior, at 2:45 a.m. We had spent the bulk of that week in the hospital with our newborn who was battling asthma. I’m no detective, but if my timeline is correct, I must’ve bought it during one of those nights. When you’re sleep-deprived, there’s not a lot of critical thought going on. And eBay makes it so easy.” — Jason, 29, Oregon

I Put Celery Salt in My Coffee Instead of Sugar

“I always take coffee with me on my drive to work. I didn’t get more than an hour of sleep the night before, so I knew my brain and body wouldn’t be functioning properly anyway. But, when I tasted my coffee, it was definitely not the usual. I came home later and figured out what happened: In my sleep-deprived haste, I grabbed the jar of celery salt instead of cinnamon. There it was, sitting out on the counter, mocking my exhaustion.” — Kevin, 30, Washington

My Wife Dumped an Entire Bottle of Formula on Herself

“She was feeding our youngest and forgot to screw the bottle top on. She tilted the baby and the bottle back, and dumped a whole load of formula all over herself and the baby. So we had my wife cursing, the baby crying, the dog barking, and me trying not to laugh. I love that story.” — Angelo, 32, Ohio

I Wore My Wife’s Sweatpants to the Gym

“I go to the gym every morning, and I usually just throw on whatever’s lying around. I was up with the baby the night before, so I was totally exhausted. What happened to be ‘lying around’ were my wife’s college sweatpants. I put them on, and thought they felt a little tight, but rolled with it. It wasn’t until I got to the gym that I realized they were hers. Luckily they didn’t say ‘Juicy’ on the ass, or anything, so I was able to pull it off without anyone noticing.” — Al, 44, Maryland

I Fell Asleep on the Dog Bed

“I was so exhausted that I sort of melted into our dog’s bed and fell asleep. First, I started in the chair. Then I kind of rolled down to the ottoman. Then, finally, I ended up curled up on the dog bed at the foot of the chair. My wife has a picture of it — I was just wrapped in the fetal position, dead to the world. It was comfortable. I totally get why the dog loves it. I might try it again.” — Ivan, 36, Florida

I Turned on the Washer and Dryer Without Clothes in Them

“Laundry is constant for new parents. So, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that this one happens to a lot of people. We were always up — my wife and I — and we always seemed to be doing laundry. The washer and dryer both buzzed and I went down to change the loads. They were both empty. For a minute, I thought I was losing my mind. Then I asked her and she facepalmed and said she must’ve forgotten to actually put laundry in.” — Caleb, 31, Tennessee

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