Sharing the load.

Sleeping with a toddler

The CRUNCH:
Sharing the load.

CRUNCH deets:
You both agreed. He’d take Saturday morning and you’d do the Sunday shift. But it’s been week after week after week of him forgetting/not waking up/ignoring your baby’s cries, until you’re forced to rescue her and bring her into your bed for some extra shut-eye or, worse, can’t get back to sleep. So now you’re pulling double-triple-twenty-four-hour duty. Oy.

The FIX:
Give each other a break.

FIX Deets:
Someone asked me this question recently and it took me right back to those days. The optimistic exchange of duties when we were both well-rested and feeling happy, followed by mornings of reneged commitments and weekends of frustration. Here’s what to do if your honey’s breaking promises:

  • Step 1: Communicate. Not in the moment you’re fuming, but later when you’re calm and can talk without arguing or getting defensive. Try to see it from his point of view, and remember these tips to have a productive How to get your partner to split childcare and choresconversation otherwise you’ll both blow up. Also introduce him to the concept of choreplay… how is it possible that something women have known forever is still news to so many men?!
  • Step 2: Don’t let him get away with it. If he knows he can roll over and go right back to sleep because you just. can’t. listen. to one more minute of crying and will swoop into rescue your sweet babe sooner or later, well, sounds sorta like when a baby knows that if he cries long enough his mama will come. Your hubby’s old enough for tough love though, so find a basement/couch/anywhere out of earshot to sleep, make sure the monitor’s set to MAX next to his pillow, and hightail it to dreamland with earplugs and a glass of wine. If you have no other place to prop your pillow, set him up next to baby (he can sleep on the floor – it’s one night a week!) and enjoy the luxury of your bed to yourself. This is definitely a plan to discuss beforehand… remember the first step above? If he’s not game then reiterate that you’ll gladly do the same for him every Sunday morning, and then follow through. This applies to every single chore that’s on your list: of course he’ll leave the dishes on the counter if he knows you’ll eventually do them!
  • Step 3: Rethink your agreement. I’m not trying to let him off easy. But mamas, our bodies are hardwired to respond to tears in a way that men’s just aren’t. So we’ll almost always tune in earlier, often much earlier. If he really cannot wake/get up before your sleep is disrupted, waiting for him to wake up before you is the same as waiting for him to make dinner when he’s stuck at work: a losing battle. If this is the case, think about what OTHER equivalent chunk of time you want all to yourself (or an equivalent chore if we’re talking dish duty) and make it happen. Hair salons, gym time, coffee shops here you come! Alternatively, feel free to ask them to leave if you just want the house to yourself. It won’t feel as good as sleeping in (sorry!) but you might be able to squeeze in a good nap and at least you won’t be PO’d and snapping at each other all weekend!

Remember this:
Early morning wake-up calls are a phase which too shall pass – for realz! Sharing sleep duties is the same as sharing dish duty, laundry duty, and just about every other chore that has to get done. No matter how sleep deprived/sick of prepping veggies/dish-panned-hands you are, it’s up to you to decide if you want to weather the storm as a team with the honey you fell in love with or duke it out on opposing battlefields. Choose carefully if you don’t want today’s frustrations to turn into tomorrow’s divorce.

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