Everyone that has kids will tell people having kids one thing. “Enjoy your sleep now, while you can.” But, until you have a newborn, you won’t really heed this advice. You don’t know what you’re in for until you’re already in it.
For me, having had a sleep-resistant child is kind of like having a broken alarm clock. You set it before you go to bed, expecting a sweet serenade to notify you when the morning comes. But that alarm clock of yours has a few loose wires. And those loose wires cause that alarm clock to have a mind of its own. RING!…1:37am. And of course there’s no snooze option on this clock. It’s just a matter of jiggling it just the right way so that it stops ringing. And then, all is quiet. RING!…2:27am. You’ll swear, and wonder why you even bought this damn alarm clock in the first place. And then, all is quiet. RING!…4:01am. “C’mon, seriously?!” And then, all is quiet. RING!…4:09am. ”I just got back into bed!” And then…you’re up for 47 minutes rocking your devil-baby while staring into the darkness wondering where you went wrong in your life. And then, all is quiet. RING!…6:10am. “Well, I guess we’re getting up now.”
Don’t get me wrong, there will be good nights. You’ll wake up at 7am and roll over to your spouse. A quick discussion will ensue, in which you ask each other whether the other had to get up at all last night. You both respond “NO” and wonder if your baby is alright. Buuuut… you’ve both enjoyed your unexpected full night of sleep so much, that you’re willing to hold off on the investigation for another hour of sleep. Convincing yourselves that your baby is A-OK and that’s the story you’re sticking to.
But back to the bad nights, when it seems like your baby hates you, and more importantly, hates the idea of you getting a good night of sleep.
The best rule that my wife and I came up with during our struggles with a fussy newborn was, ’anything that is said between midnight and 7am stays between midnight and 7am’. Meaning, those sleep deprived words of hatred that may have been spewed at one another in the wee hours of the night, the “gentle” kicks under the covers to the other’s shins to notify who’s turn it is to get up, the numerous threats of divorce, are all forgiven and forgotten about when the morning comes. In sporting terms, leave it on the field.
This will allow you to get your in-the-moment, sleep-deprived aggression out while not harnessing bottled-up animosity that will surely explode at a later date and when you least expect it. Following the ’12-7 rule’ will allow for a fresh start to your day without having to worry about rekindling the previous night’s squabble. Because all you need is to wake up exhausted (which is a given) and then have to resume your middle of the night domestic dispute that you only kind of remember. It’s no way to live.
So if you aren’t one of the lucky ones who has a baby that sleeps like a hibernating bear, then I suggest you give the ’12-7’ rule a try. And if you haven’t had your baby yet…
Enjoy your sleep now, while you can.