One of the most interesting aspects of my job is that I get to work so closely with such a wide variety of people and personalities. Working so closely with Moms, Dads and other caregivers, especially at a time when they’re vulnerable and emotional, lets you get to know them in a hurry.
I can honestly say that I’ve never met two families that really reminded me of one another. The difference between every family I’ve worked with and their dynamic is simply astonishing.
There is one thing among all the families I have worked with that seems to remain constant. U
I’ve seen families where parents split the childcare duties 51-49. I’ve also seen others where one parent tackles the feeding, bathing, supervision, education, and doctor visits, and the other reads the bedtime stories.
Both of these scenarios, and everything in between, are absolutely fine by me, of course. Any two people who can reach an agreement on what works for them in terms of raising their family deserve a medal, as far as I’m concerned.
But let’s not kid each other, sleep training can be a bumpy road. Generally, you’re pretty severely sleep deprived at the time you finally decide something needs to change and you are ready to make that change. The first few nights are generally the hardest. So here you are, severely sleep deprived and you have a few nights ahead of you that are only going to test your patience and determination some more. If only one person is involved, it’s going to be that much more of a challenge.
I also often see that the secondary caregiver usually wishes they could help more, because it is distressing to see their partner suffering so much.
So, I am writing to you, dear secondary caregiver.
If you’re feeling left out of the child-rearing process and wishing you had more of an opportunity to bond with your baby and take some of the parenting stress off your partner’s shoulders, this is your moment!
Right here. Right now. And with Valentine’s Day one week away, I am giving you a sure-fire way to make your sleep deprived partner feel loved and cared for.
Because let me tell you something… no dinner at a Michelin rated restaurant, no front row concert tickets, no trip to a tropical paradise, is going to solidify your place as your partner’s hero quite like taking a leading role in getting your baby to sleep through the night. I am not even slightly exaggerating here.
If you’re reading this, I would guess there’s a decent chance you’re already feeling the effects of at least a few nights of sleep deprivation. You probably don’t need to be told how serious the effects really are. The thought of months or even years of this seems like an impossible and scary situation. Undoubtedly, your partner feels the same way.
So, when you jump out in front of the problem and tell your partner, “I’m here and I’m ready to tackle this situation alongside you,” it may well result in one of the most passionate, heartfelt smooching sessions of your life. There is just nothing sexier than waking up exhausted in the middle of the night and seeing your partner already getting out of bed. Then telling you to lie down and go back to sleep, with those three magic words… “I got this.”
Is it easy? No, not particularly. Sleep training can be challenging. There’s likely to be some crying, some moments of doubt, and a few trying nights. But it is worth it. You know how I know, without a doubt, it is worth it? Because every family I have worked with to gently and compassionately help their baby sleep through the night has told me unreservedly that they would do it all over again in a heartbeat now that they’ve got their baby sleeping through the night.
Not only will you be helping baby sleep through the night soundly and peacefully, you will be helping your partner get the quality sleep they need at night to get them back to their normal, non-sleep deprived selves.
So now that you’re ready to take the reins on this horse, I’d like to speak to the primary caregiver again.
Call them into the room, hand them your tablet, pass them your phone, whatever the situation warrants here.
Are you there? OK, good. So, check this out you lucky duck. Your partner is awesome. They totally recognize your efforts in raising your baby. To show their appreciation for all the hard work you’ve done, they want to pull a little extra weight. A little extra weight meaning, not only taking an active role in helping your baby learn to sleep through the night but taking the lead!. You may have been doubting it a bit lately (sleep deprivation can do that to you) but you have clearly made an excellent choice in a partner.
So, what’s the catch? Well, you have one very simple but difficult task here. You have to let them
As the chair of the parenting department, that might be difficult. I get it. I’ve totally been there and it was difficult. You’re probably used to having the veto power when it comes to baby-centered decisions. But I want you to relinquish that in this one area for just a little bit. I
Helping your baby learn to sleep through the night independently requires consistency. You and your partner should have a well-established plan that you’re both comfortable with. However, there’s room for each of you to have a different style within that framework.
So, resist the urge to hover over your partner as they figure out their own approach. It’s vital that they know you’re confident in their parenting abilities. Micromanaging someone else’s parenting is likely to result in them just throwing their hands up and saying, “Fine, you do it.” Then you’re on your own again. Up multiple times a night and your partner probably ends up harboring a hint of resentment.
Don’t undervalue what you’ve got here. This is someone with a deep and genuine love for you and your baby. Someone who is willing and eager to take the lead on one of the most daunting challenges of early parenting! There are a lot of single parents out there who would literally give their right foot for that kind of an offer. So be cool. Let your partner do their thing.
I would bet you will be very pleasantly surprised at the results they get. Plus, you get to enjoy the rather sublime experience of watching two of the people you love most in the world build their own little set of inside jokes, routines, and nuances. It’s one of the sweetest things in the world, and you will be there to witness it.
So now bring your partner back into the room, would you? I want to talk to both of you together here.
Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Both of you there? Alright, good. Listen, what you’re about to do is really going to do amazing things for your family. You’re going to get your baby to sleep through the night soundly and peacefully. This means you’ll both be sleeping through the night again! You’re also committing to doing it together, and that’s going to make this endeavor even sweeter.
Both of you are going to learn a little bit more about how supportive you can both be in some tough moments, how much stronger the two of you make each other, and how unstoppable you are when you parent as a team. You’re taking a problem that could seriously deteriorate your relationship and agreeing to tackle it together. You should both be very proud of that.
I hope it goes smoothly from the start. But just remember if it doesn’t, I’m always here to help. Two parents presenting a united front is a mighty force. Those same parents armed with an expert to help, support and encourage them through this process, well that’s practically unstoppable.
Cheers to healthy, happy sleep at your house and Happy Valentine’s Day.