Coping when your child doesn’t sleep can be tough and put strain on any couple. Our son didn’t really start sleeping through the night until he was two, and even now he can still wake up at any time after 4am.
It’s okay to sleep apart
Almost every couple I know sleep apart at some point with young kids. Better off that one person gets some sleep that nobody does. Throw in hot humid nights or one of you snoring, or having to get up early for work, and it makes sleeping apart even more attractive. If you opt to sleep apart as a short term measure, on an ad hoc basis or long term, then don’t feel bad about it.
Take turns getting up
It’s easy to get into a routine of one parent waking with the baby, particularly if you’re on maternity or breastfeeding. Where possible, try to take it in turns to get up in the night with the kids, or work it so that if one is up at night, they get a nap in the day or to sleep in.
Give yourself a lay in now and again
Once a week, or once a fortnight, agree that one of you will get up with the kids while the other one sleeps on. After a couple of sleep deprived years, staying in bed until 7am feels like a fortnight all inclusive in the Seychelles.
Accept you’re going to be snappy
It’s hard to be sweetness and light all the time when you’re exhausted so don’t take it to heart if your partner snaps at you. It’s not you, it’s the sleep stealing child.
Say when you’re tired – but don’t moan
If you think you’re building up to a bad day because you’re overtired and snappy like a toddler that hasn’t napped, apologise in advance. Whether it’s in work of with a loved one, an “I’m sorry I’m tired and grumpy today” goes a long way. Don’t labour the point though. The fact is your partner is wiped out too and hearing you bang on about how tired you are as well isn’t going to help. Quietly accept you’re in together and just give a disclaimer about snarkyness.
If you should snip at your other half, just apologise… immediately if possible, but if it takes you a while to realise you’ve done (because of the lack of sleep), do say something later.
If you are fortunate to have friends or family who are willing to help and babysit for a night so you can sleep, even if you’re still in the house, take them up on the offer.
A lack of sleep can often result in being a bit over emotional and nobody is going to win if you fuel this with alcohol. Getting up after three hours sleep with a hangover also isn’t any fun.
For more tips on how to deal with a baby that doesn’t sleep, read this post on how to cope and keep yourself sane and occupied during the night.