Who gets more sleep?
“But I did the 2 a.m. diaper…and it was a blow out!” “I’m the one breastfeeding…and this baby is HUNGRY!” “My work starts at 8.” “But I have to get her to daycare.” “You don’t even GO to work.” “You don’t think caring for our child is WORK?” And so on and so on and so on…
And the winner is…
No one. Nobody wins the sleep argument. You are parents. You are both sleep deprived. You are both feeling as though your very basic need for rest is not being met. And you know what? Arguing, while sometimes relieving and honest and necessary, is exhausting. Once you can agree on the fact that you are both tired, you can work together to get the heck to bed. Once you accept that NOBODY WINS THIS ARGUMENT, you can give it up and — well — get the heck to bed!
Most parents of multiples know and understand that the ship is going DOWN if the team doesn’t work together. What we’ve seen in many, many homes brimming with babies is the use of sleep shifts. Mama goes down with Baby at 7 p.m. and wakes for the day at 2 a.m. (or at least starts her “on” shift). Mama’s partner stays up late and then sleeps when the first shift ends. The system is imperfect and not as easy to do with breastfeeding families who are not yet serving expressed milk, but it’s a start. Even with breastfeeding, the idea is that soothing and diapering and burping falls on the non-breastfeeding partner during Mama’s sleep shift.
Coming from a place of compassion goes a long way: “I don’t know how you do the baby thing 24/7.” “I don’t know how you can function in a meeting right now!” “I know you have a big presentation in the morning so I’ll bring the baby monitor into the guest room and give you a full night off…but I’ll need a nap when you get home.” “How about that nap, Hon?” “Sounded like a rough spell during your shift last night. Thanks for being awesome.”
In all of the hazy, crazy sleep-deprived madness, it’s important to find time to reconnect as a couple. You are not just surviving, you’re in love…RIGHT? Especially in the case of the tag-teaming sleep shift system, it’s imperative to carve out a little positive couple time too — otherwise you’re just two (very tired) ships passing in the night. Take Grandma up on that date night offer. Have a one hour overlap in the sleep shift schedule where you’re both awake for a favorite TV show. Hold hands, brew coffee, laugh. That’s what we call winning the sleep argument.