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When family kept broaching the conversation of when we would have more kids, my husband and I gave most of our reasons (before finally demanding that they mind their own business), and one of the main ones seemed to be insignificant to them.
“I like my sleep,” said my husband.
Most people retorted with clichés such as : it only lasts a few months, maybe your second baby will sleep more than your first, and you’ll live.
Thanks, everybody. I am glad that you think so highly of us as parents to honestly believe sleep isn’t an important factor in how we raise our kids. However, I don’t think you’d be too happy if I woke you up at 1am, 3am and 5am for a week straight (let alone 1 to 6 months). Shall we try it?
I won’t cause anyone unnecessary misery, and I understand that most people who are beyond their baby years just think it’s a right of passage every parent must go through, and that though they are unwilling to do it now in their stage of life, we should be willing to do it in ours.
But my argument then becomes: why should we have to do it at all? If we are saying we like/need our sleep and we fear the next baby won’t sleep, isn’t it smart to decide to not have more kids rather than jump into circumstances willingly?
We ended up deciding that a second child would be worth the sleep deprivation, but some days, that is exactly what it is–sleep deprivation. For those of you that don’t know, this is a serious problem. In fact, the average parent only gets between 1 to 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night after the birth of their baby. Tough it out, you say. Well, I wish I could, but here are all the risks people without plenty of sleep are subject to:
- heart disease
- higher cholesterol
- irregular heartbeat
- bipolar disorder
- and more.
As a parent, I do not like knowing that I’m putting myself at risk of all of these things despite my responsibility to raise my kids. I need my sleep, and it’s not a joking matter. Besides not being able to keep my eyes open, I forget things more easily, I get agitated more easily, I don’t have the energy to eat, and I am just overall a worse version of myself. Like any machine, I run on fuel and when I don’t get it, don’t expect me to be good for much. The times I push myself to be, I am only cheating myself and my family of what they deserve. Thankfully, my husband lets me nap on the weekends and whenever I need to, because he has seen firsthand what lack of sleep does to me (and yes, it’s more than just a cranky attitude). It helps my parenting when I get the sleep I need.
When I don’t sleep, my appetite, mood, and body are all affected in an adverse way. Though 8 hours of continuous sleep is recommended, I needed about 10 hours when I was pregnant in order to feel ready for the day. And now that I’m breastfeeding, I feel it is still closer to 9 than the 5 or 6 I get every night.
My husband, on the other hand, wakes up each time one of our kids wakes up, so he gets 1 or 2 hour stints of sleep at a time and doesn’t have the luxury of a nap during the day, because he stays home with the kids. I always wonder how he does it, because he’s still kind enough to offer me naps before asking for time to relax himself.
I am not complaining that our child keeps us up at night. I wouldn’t trade our baby for anything in the world, but I do think people should be more aware of how valuable sleep really is, because it honestly makes a difference in the person you are during the day, and it could affect your health long term if you don’t receive sufficient sleep–and that goes for everyone, not just new parents!
They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but it’s safe to say you need more than fruit to keep you healthy, and sane…