Of course, there are definitely some downsides to being a parent, too. The air typically smells of poopy diapers more often than roses, and confusing toddler tantrums can make you want to tear your hair out. And that’s not even mentioning the sleep deprivation.
Sleep deprivation has got to be one of the hardest things to deal with as a parent. It makes everyone crabbier and more sensitive than usual, so things that would normally not be a big deal suddenly become serious problems. The longer sleep deprivation goes on, the harder it is to stay calm, cool, and collected in the face of a tired little person, and that can make you feel like a pretty crappy parent at the end of the day.
The thing is, every parent has to reach a breaking point before they realize that their child’s sleep problems are doing more harm than initially thought. You can’t tell someone that their lives could be better with more sleep – they have to come to that conclusion independently.
So what can you do when you’re tired of being tired, but your significant other hasn’t hit the wall yet?
Let’s be honest: sleep training can be a real drag. A lot of the time, things seem to get worse before they get better, and the idea of getting even less sleep for a few days can be hard for an unconvinced parent to wrap their head around. That, coupled with the fact that sleep training with a pediatric sleep coach is a solid investment, can make the whole thing a hard sell for a partner who isn’t on board.
Hard, but not impossible.
If you’re looking to convince your parenting partner to try sleep training, here are two ideas to help you present a good case:
Share the Wealth
The first thing you can do is make sure the lines are divided fairly. If you are the only one that is getting up 47 times in the middle of the night to help the baby, of course your partner won’t see the need to change anything. They’re still getting great sleep! But, you might argue, they need to be on their game during the day because of XYZ, so it’s not fair for them to get less sleep.
Sleep deprivation is sleep deprivation is sleep deprivation. The fact is, being sleep-deprived is dangerous for everyone’s health. Whether you’re the breadwinner, the one taking kids to appointments, school, and soccer practice, or a little bit of both, being tired can lead to preventable accidents. One partner’s job isn’t more important than the other partner’s job because frankly, both parents have other people relying on them.
So if only one parent is getting up with the kid, start by redefining the nighttime schedule. Divvy up the nights so that the burden is evenly distributed, and then revisit the situation in a week or two. The chances are good that empathy levels will have gone way up, and the reluctant partner is more willing to consider sleep training a viable option. If nothing else, at least you will have gotten a couple good nights of sleep.
Lay Out the Cards
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer for sleep training, so it’s important to do your research before presenting the options to your partner. You know both of your parenting styles better than anyone, so be sure to consider various sleep training options. Some questions to ask yourself include:
- How long can you devote to sleep training? Some methods are faster than others. The quickest method is usually the Cry It Out method, but the Ferber sleep method isn’t too far behind. Other sleep training methods can take a lot longer but are gentler on your baby.
- How tolerant are you to crying? If you can’t stand crying, the CIO method probably isn’t for you, but luckily, there are other options out there. The Ferber sleep method is gentle on your baby and relatively quick, but you can also try bedtime fading, pick up/put down (PU/PD), or the Chair Method.
- Can you take a few days off of work to sleep train? Sleep training is a drag at night, but it’s even more tiring the next day. At the very least, circle a date on the calendar that will have the lowest impact on both of your daily lives. Standard weekends work great for most sleep training methods, but a three-day weekend is gold in the world of sleep training.
- Can you hire a child sleep coach? Hiring a baby sleep coach is an investment for everyone’s health and sanity. The price may feel steep, but with it comes years of experience helping parents and children sleep their best. If you don’t have the energy to reinvent the wheel, a pediatric sleep consultant can help you design a quick and efficient solution that fits your parenting styles and preferences flawlessly.
Taking the time to anticipate and answer these questions can make the conversation easier and more conclusive with your spouse or partner. Don’t forget to throw in a personal appeal stating that your own mental and physical health depends on how well you sleep at night.
By coming prepared with answers to common sleep training questions and sticking to your guns, you have an excellent chance to sway your partner to see your point of view. And if all goes well, you’ll both be sleeping better soon!