My experience thus far leads me to believe sleep is a luxury. A wonderful gift I am not always entitled to have. Parents promised me that sleep would be the first to go once the baby arrived- they weren’t kidding.
I can’t complain. Andrea has spent most of the time with Owen during the night. To be honest, there have been times I praised God with silent prayers when Andrea would pat my back and say, “I’ll get him baby.” Then came the guilt. Something feels wrong about continuing your rest while your wife stays up with baby for the next hour.
Dads, it’s your responsibility to make the additional sacrifices needed to sustain your family. Obviously I recommend the following idea on guilt free sleep, but as we know, sometimes these ideas don’t always work. When those times come, roll up your sleeves and fill in the gap. Do what needs to be done. Small things like changing a diaper in the middle of the night can really bless your wife.
Blessing your wife= praising God = fulfilling life’s purpose. In other words changing diapers is why we were put on this world.
Have a designated sleeper
If you’re asking me, I’d say it’s silly for both parents to be up every time with the baby. You need to have a least one parent getting as close to a full night of sleep as possible. It benefits the other. In my opinion it is better to have one exhausted and one well-rested parent than two tired parents. If you are the designated sleeper, try not to feel guilty. Your energy for the next day will better serve your spouse.
Keep in mind that your designated sleeper not only needs time to sleep, but uninterrupted sleep. Don’t disturb those REM and NREM sleep cycles. It’s not how much you sleep, but how many sleep cycles you get in during the night. Try not to wake up your designated sleeper.
Tit for Tat
Parents need to work together to make sure their needs are being met. During the weekends, I get up earlier than normal and take care of Owen while Andrea sleeps in. This is a routine we came up with that works out for us. Once I start staying at home, the night time roles will need to reverse. Work out a system that accommodates both of your needs. Maybe it means alternating each night who stays up, or maybe the designated sleeper is on baby duty the next evening.
The key here is a full night of sleep. This is a goal, not an absolute. Prepare to deviate from time to time. There are nights that Andrea needs back up. Whether it’s a mega diaper, missing pacifier, spilled milk, or a combination of all of the above, sometimes she needs help. It may mean we both miss out on sleep, if that’s the case then it’s time for me to put my big boy pants on and just deal with it.
Designate a sleeper when you can, take care of each others’ needs, and stay flexible. Designated sleepers should sleep guilt free. For the ones staying up with the baby, feel free to plot out the sleepers to-do list for the next day…while you nap!