Long gone are the days where boasting about how little sleep you’re getting as a parent will bring you much sympathy from others. There are so many articles, books, and studies about the benefits of getting enough sleep that making sure both you and your baby are getting the sleep you need should be a no-brainer. So why, exactly, are so many parents still struggling with sleep deprivation -- firstly their infant’s and ultimately their own? There is no reason why parents should just accept this as their new normal. Here are five of the biggest reasons why sleep training your baby to ensure your family is getting enough sleep will make you a better parent:
1. You will have more patience
Are you familiar with those mornings when you’re overtired, stressed about getting the kids ready in the morning and everything seems to be going wrong? I know I am. Looking back, there weren’t any major disasters happening on those mornings, but I was exhausted from having to deal with my infant’s multiple night wakings, so everything would get blown out of proportion, I would lose my patience and end up getting disproportionately angry at my kids. This was not a one-time occurrence. It was almost the norm for me on many mornings during that dark phase when my son was 6 months old and I had returned to full-time work before he was sleep trained. I was behaving in ways I’m not proud of now when I look back, for example: yelling at my pre-schooler over a triviality was a regular occurrence caused by my lack of patience. Getting more sleep helps me keep my cool as a parent.
2. You will be more present to enjoy the everyday miracles of raising children
Have you ever noticed that sometimes you’re so tired that you can’t muster up the enthusiasm to keep up with your child’s 100th repeat of peek-a-boo of the day? Providing developmentally positive care for your child during the day can be a challenge when you can’t keep your eyes open. Getting enough sleep high quality sleep through the night can be a game changer when it comes to be able to really be present as a parent during the everyday.
3. You will improve your relationship with your partner
I know this one is a big one for so many parents. When was the last time you had enough energy to get intimate? If you’re not getting it on every night, join the club. If you’re not getting it on even every week, join the club. Has it been months? Join the club! Many couples of young children go through a pretty rough patch in the intimacy department after becoming parents. If you’re interested in having sex again, not because you think you have to because it’s been 6 weeks, but because you are actually craving it, start by catching up on your sleep! You’ll feel like a new person once you’re getting 8 solid hours of uninterrupted sleep. AND, because you’re little one will be going to bed on their own in their own crib around 7 p.m., you’ll actually have some time to spend with your partner before your own bed time! When your relationship as parents is going well, your kids will reap the benefits. They can sense when their parents are on high vibe, and it will bring more love into the household.
4. You will be more productive
It’s truly life changing when you have your first few days of normalcy after having spent months (or even years) sleep deprived due to your child’s sleep challenges. Once you get a taste for that feeling of being actually, truly well rested, you will feel like you can move mountains! Seize the opportunity to pamper yourself and celebrate the fact that your babe is finally sleeping like a champ! Once you’ve taken a bit of time to recover, get in there and do some things around your living space that will bring you joy. Declutter the nursery, pass on or pack away clothes that your little one has long ago outgrown. It will make you feel like you’re in control and create some breathing room for the next phase in your parenting adventure.
5. You will be setting your child up for sleep independence (HINT: that means more flexibility for you!)
When children learn the ability to self-soothe and sleep independently, it creates much more flexibility for your family. If your child still depends on you to be there as a sleep crutch each night, what do you expect will happen if and when, for whatever reason, you can’t be there one night? Examples of these types of situations could be: you have an emergency and can’t be at home for the child’s regular bed time, or you (oh my goodness) have a date night or a conference to go to, so you need your child to stay with a sitter. How is that child going to recreate the same sleep experience without you there? The truth is, it won’t be a good experience for the child, for the sitter, or for you. The child may have anxiety. There will probably be quite a few tears. You will probably have pretty strong feelings of guilt when the sitter calls you at 10 p.m. to say the child still isn’t sleeping and has been crying since 7:30. So one way to avoid this uncomfortable situation is to give your child the gift of sleep independence. Once he or she has learned this skill, you will find that your level of flexibility has increased dramatically.