Was anyone else surprised at how technical and complex some of the common sleep-training methods are? It’s as if the experts aren’t taking into account the level of exhaustion the parents are really experiencing. Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but still, I’m super glad I had a partner that helped with sleep-training efforts when it came time to try and help our kid sleep through the night, because I found the whole process to be pretty overwhelming.
Being "in it" together was crucial for not only my sanity, but for the few sacred minutes of sleep I was able to get each night. Trust me, I've had more experience than I could have ever hoped for in the "functioning without a sufficient amount of sleep" department, leaning on my partner in the middle of the night with one eye open and one eye closed, counting the minutes until I could go back into my baby's room again to sooth him so that, you guessed it, I could start the whole process all over again. Perhaps I should even give him an extra shout-out, because he is the lighter sleeper of the two of us. That short end of the stick meant he would often be the first (or, dare I admit, only) parent awake to respond to our crying kid.
Basically, coming at sleep-training as a team made me so grateful for my partner and the parenting team we've formed together. Sleep training isn't easy and it can be a guilt-filled process and, well, every parent needs all the help and support and solidarity they can get. If you're getting ready to embark on the journey, here’s a few things your grown-ass man can do to help with sleep training:
He Takes Turns Getting Up For And With The Baby
You'll notice that this one is listed first. This was an intentional choice, since I'd wager that sharing the sleep duties just might be the most important thing a man can do for his partner during sleep training (or before or after or in between). Of course, partnerships will vary and every couple is different but seriously, is there any reason why the mom has to be the one to get up every single time? Even if there's breastfeeding happening, her partner can always bring the baby to her.
He Refrains From Complaining
Does anyone like hearing someone else complain? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Sleep training can be a trying time and while I'm no expert, I'd venture to say verbalizing extra negativity and frustrations probably won't do much to help it. Of course partners should feel comfortable voicing their frustrations to one another, but definitely read your audience. If a glass-half-empty conversation is only going to make everything worse, save it for another day when you both feel like you have the energy to air your grievances accordingly.
He Offers Support To His Partner When She's Feeling The Stress And Strain
Parenting is tiring and stressful, even when you're not in the throes of sleep training and being forced to listen to your baby cry for an allotted period of time. A well-timed hug,or glass of water or wine or knowing eye roll from across the room or, really, whatever way your partner likes to receive support, will remind her that she's not alone. Sleep training is difficult for both parents, so both parents should be offering one another support.
He Takes Care Of Himself
Is it just me, or can a well-timed shower make all the difference? I'm pretty much always in support of my husband taking one. He gets some much-needed alone time that helps him get back to neutral and prepares him for the night ahead, while I can feel confident that I'm supporting my partner as much as he's supporting me. Like I said, sleep training is hard for everyone, so everyone needs to take care of themselves.
He Does His Research
True story: both my partner and I researched various sleep training methods, but he was the one who ultimately steered our customized sleep ship when it came time to putting our plan into action. (And by "steered," he read the entire book we followed then gave me the bullet points to constantly fall back on.) Please trust me when I say that his research was a major gift.
He Pitches In When The Going Gets Tough
Sure, this can still include getting up, but there's other things too, like being the one to check the monitor, wash pacifiers, prep bottles, or managing whatever other details need managing.
He Does Whatever Needs To Be Done To Give Mom A Chance To Rest
Even if her rest looks a lot like laying on the floor with her face in the carpet, trust me, it still counts.
He Reminds His Partner Why They Wanted To Try Sleep Training, Especially When It's Hard...
Sleep training is really difficult on almost any parent, as it requires parents to go against their gut instincts to automatically comfort their crying baby. When you're hearing your baby crying and you'er waiting for enough time to pass to go comfort them, it's unbelievably easy (and understandable) to start second guessing yourself and your decision while the second tick away. A grown-ass man is going to comfort his partner during this time (and visa versa) and remind his partner why they settled on sleep training. I mean, we all need some reassurance every now and then.
...But He Understands It Doesn't Work For Everyone, And Refuses To Be Upset If A Change Of Plan Is Necessary
Of course, sleep training doesn't work for everyone, so if a grown-ass man is realizing that sleep training isn'g going to work, he's all about changing plans without blaming anyone. Hey, just like anything else when it comes to parenthood, it's all trial and error and learn as you go. The best thing a grown-ass man can do is remind his partner that they're both learning, together.