Getting your partner involved with sleep
If you’ve ever dreamt of getting your partner involved with sleep, this blog is for you. But it is also for you to share with your partner, who you may have noticed is standing back. The one who maybe silently wishes they were involved more. But who, truth-be-told, doesn’t have the foggiest on how to start. I see a lot of Dads in this scenario. If you’re that partner, this is for you too.
If sleep isn’t going as well as you like, it’s often the partner, that second caregiver in the family, who becomes the hero in the picture. It is often the Dad, but not always. If you can get your partner to take the lead in getting your baby sleeping through the night, you’re mostly there.
NO TWO FAMILIES ARE EVER ALIKE
One of the most interesting aspects of being a sleep coach is that I get to work closely with such a wide variety of people and personalities. Visiting people’s homes, 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 really met two families that reminded me of one another. And there have been hundreds (thousands)! The differences between families that I’ve worked with is simply astonishing.
And, as the traditional “nuclear family” has shifted over time, those differences have gotten so much more varied and fascinating.
One thing that does seem to remain somewhat constant though, is that there is usually one parent who I would define as the primary caregiver.
I’ve seen families where parents split the childcare duties 51-49, and I’ve seen others where one parent tackles the feeding, bathing, supervision, education, and doctor visits, and the other reads them their bedtime stories.
Both scenarios, and everything in between, are absolutely fine with me, of course. Any two people who can reach an agreement on what works for them when raising their family deserve a medal, as far as I’m concerned. As a wife and Mother, I know that it’s hard to always be on the same page.
YOU AND YOUR PARTNER ARE ALREADY SLEEP DEPRIVED
Let’s not kid each other that parenting is all bunnies and rainbows. Working on sleep, or “sleep training” can be a tough slog, at least initially. By the time you’ve decided you need to act, you’re obviously sleep deprived. And at that stage everything is HARD (for all concerned).
Starting sleep deprived means you are likely to have a few nights ahead of you that will test your patience and determination. And, if only one of you are involved, it’s going to be that much more of a challenge.
TO THE DAD (OR SECOND CAREGIVER)
I write this post to you today, dear secondary caregiver. Are you are feeling a bit left out of the child-rearing process? Do you wish you had more of an opportunity to bond with your baby, maybe take some of the parenting stress off your partner’s shoulders? Then this is your moment. RIGHT HERE!
IT’S TIME TO BE A HERO
Let me tell you something… no dinner at a fancy restaurant, no front row concert tickets, no trip to a tropical island paradise, is going to solidify your place as your partner’s hero quite like taking a leading role in getting your baby sleeping through the night. I am not even slightly exaggerating here.
If you’re reading this Dad, I’m guessing there’s a decent chance you’re already feeling the effects of at least a few nights of sleep deprivation. If this is so, you don’t need to be told how serious the effects really are. You’re living them.
Add to this the thought of the situation continuing as it is. Where you all endure months, or even years, of broken or little sleep. Seems like an impossible situation, right? Chances are your partner feels exactly the same way. It’s TOUGH to function on little sleep.
THERE’S NOTHING SEXIER
It may seem counter intuitive to mention “sexy” to sleep-deprived parents. But 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, telling you to lie down and go back to sleep, with those three magic words… “I got this.”
Mums and primary caregivers, are you with me!?
IT’S NOT NECESSARILY EASY
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 everyone I’ve guided through the process has told me that they would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Now that they’ve got their baby sleeping through the night.
So now that you’re ready to take the reins on this horse, I’d like to speak to the primary caregiver again. Call your partner into the room and hand them this blog on your phone or device.
TO THE PRIMARY CAREGIVER
Hey, Mum (a blatant assumption, I know). Are you there?
Check this out, you lucky duck. Your partner is AWESOME. They totally recognise your efforts in raising your baby. Indeed, they want to pull a little extra weight to make up for all the hard work you’ve done to date. They now want to take an active role in helping you get your baby sleeping through the night. Congratulations on your excellent choice in a partner.
Someone is going to step in and help. Sounds great right. So, what’s the catch? Does there have to be catch?
IS THERE A CATCH?
Well, as the primary caregiver, you now have one very simple but potentially difficult task here. And I guess you could call this the catch…
YOU HAVE TO LET THEM DO IT
Yes, you have to hand the reins over to the other parent. You have to let them do it. After being the head of the parenting department for so long, that might be difficult. You’re probably used to having all the power when it comes to the baby decisions. But I want you to relinquish that for a while. It might feel strange, it might feel wonderful, either way, you need to relinquish control.
Sleep training requires consistency, and you and your partner need to have a well-established plan that you’re both comfortable with. But there’s room for each of you to have a different style within that framework.
Please resist the urge to hover over your partner as they figure out their own approach.
DON’T UNDERVALUE WHAT YOU’VE GOT
It is vital that your partner knows you are confident in their parenting abilities.
Micromanaging some-one 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. And, what’s more, your partner probably ends up harbouring just a hint (or a truckload) of resentment.
Don’t undervalue what you’ve got here.
This is someone with a deep and genuine love for your child. This person, your partner, is available and eager to help you with one of the most daunting challenges of parenting. And they’re willing to do it for nothing!
There are a lot of single parents out there who would literally step over their own mothers for that kind of an offer. So be cool. Let your partner do their thing. You might be very pleasantly surprised at the results they get, and you get to enjoy the rather sublime experience of watching them build their own little set of inside jokes, routines, and nuances. It’s really the sweetest thing in the world.
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.
TO BOTH OF YOU TACKLING SLEEP ISSUES
Both of you there? Alright, good.
Listen, what you’re about to do is going to do really amazing things for your family unit.
You’re going to get your baby sleeping through the night, which means you’ll both be sleeping through the night again. You’ll get your evenings back. Be able to share the same bed again, feel more refreshed. But you’re also committing to doing it together, and that’s going to make this endeavor even sweeter.
You’re going to learn how supportive you can both be in some tough moments. You’ll see how much stronger the two of you make each other. How amazing you are when you parent as a team. You’re taking a problem that could seriously deteriorate your relationship. And you’re agreeing to tackle it together. You should both be very proud of that.
ADD AN EXPERT AND YOU’RE UNSTOPPABLE
I hope it goes smoothly from the jump, but just remember if it doesn’t, I’m always here to help. Two parents presenting a united front is a mighty force. However, those same parents armed with an expert to help them through the process, well that’s practically unstoppable.
Here’s a shout out to all the primary caregivers doing an amazing job. To all the secondary heroes who have stepped up (you know who you are). To all the dads building the courage to step up, and to EVERYONE who has made sleep a success. I see you and I applaud you.
And if you haven’t started yet (or even if you have) and you want to know more about my sleep packages you can BOTH jump on a free call. Let’s chat about what’s going on in your family. There’s no one-size fits all, and I’m here to help.