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Dadvice: How to sleep as a parent?

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Ask me what I miss most about my pre-parenthood day.

When my answer isn’t ‘everything,’ it would definitely be ‘sleep.’

Oh! How much I miss sleeping peacefully on the bed, knowing that everything is in place to make sure I am not disturbed. Once I close my eyes, I’d only wake up in the morning – unless, of course, an apocalypse takes place in the middle of the night.

But now, if I get 4 hours of sleep at night, I am the happiest guy on the planet.

What changed? Nothing much; the usual stuff – baby.

All those health studies urging you to get 7-8 hours of sleep feels like rubbing salts into your wounds.

Yes, your study might have a scientific rationale, but have you heard of this organic (not very scientific) invention called ‘a baby’?

Try sleeping 8 hours while caring for them, and you’d know.

But, as they say, (or they don’t, who cares?) “Parenting is compromising,” so I did one here too. I learned how not to be edgy and grumpy when being sleep deprived.

Yes, for someone who’d be cranky all day without adequate night’s sleep, I now deserve a medal for learning to survive on little to no sleep.

But, who has ever got anything for being a good parent?

So, I made some alterations in my routine that worked in my favor. Although my sleep schedule was still at the mercy of my child, I found a way to get the most out of my few hours of ‘sleep’.

So, here’s my ‘dadvice’ on how I learned to get the most out of my scant sleep hours.

Dose off when your child shuts the eye

For the first year or so, everything my wife and I did depended on our kid’s sleep schedule.

The baby is asleep; let’s do this.

The baby is asleep; let’s do that.

The baby is asleep; let’s rest too.

We were at the mercy of our baby, so we decided to sleep when she sleeps and get up when she does.

We used to put extra effort to put our kid to sleep because ‘if the baby is rested, the parents are rested.’

Dividing our tasks and trying to close our eyes when our kid dozed off proved helpful to provide some peace to our minds. Yes, it’s not a substitute for a peaceful sleep, but as the metaphor goes: drowning man clutch at a straw.

Do things that switch you off

Find ways to switch off and wind down before bed. For example, I had never been big on reading. Books turn me off!

So, knowing that I only have this one chance to rest, I tried to make the most of it. Whenever I couldn’t force my eyes to shut, I would start reading a book – and before I know it, I am sleepy.

(I don’t know if it was due to my disdain for reading or due to the fact that those books were on parenting.)

Dadvice: Find things that you absolutely loathe doing. Nothing is off the table here. Do whatever makes you fall asleep.

If it helps, you can try some relaxing activities like listening to some gentle music or deep breathing.

My love for coffee or my necessity to rest

For a long time, no matter how tired I was, give me a cup of coffee, and I can just sail through the day. Not with the baby, though!

So naturally, I should drink be drinking more coffee to cope. But then I need to sleep too because no way in hell I can parent while being short on sleep.

CRISIS ALERT!

But then after intense deliberation, persuasion, and really forcing every last cell in my body, I decided to… I decided to let go of coffee

(Ofc, in a choice b/w coffee and baby, you don’t really have two choices, do you?)

It was tough. I felt tired and fatigued, but I had to do it. Reducing my caffeine intake did help me sleep better.

No to night time scrolling

Dadvice: Avoid using screens in your bedroom, including television, mobile phones, and tablets.

 Again, it’s tough, but you gotta do it for your own sake.

You can just Google the scientific reasoning on how blue light prevents me from falling asleep. And we all know it’s true.

So, I used to turn off the Wi-Fi router (in the other room) and then enter my bedroom. It saved me from getting entangled in an endless loop of scrolling, and I could just fall asleep as soon as I feel the comfort of the mattress at the back.

I swear, missing on late-night messaging is worth it when you wake up fresh in the morning (or smack in the middle of the night if the baby starts crying).

Remember what we are striving for: to sleep by whatever means we can.

Say no to late-night gatherings

With a baby, a lot of things change. You have to make tons of adjustments to your life and learn to be adaptable for the sake of your child. However, while you’re amidst a tricky situation, people outside of it find it hard to make sense of it.

Like, when I became a father, I had to decline a lot of invitation because they went deep into the night and impinged on the night routine that I worked very hard on.

No, I’m not asking you to ostracize your loved ones. I am just asking you to decide which events are important for you to compromise your routine and which aren’t. If there’s a get-together of your closest friends that you can’t miss, ask a relative to look after your baby for the night.

I mean, people will complain anyway because, frankly, whoever isn’t on the parenting boat, don’t know the struggle.

All in all, the moment a baby comes into the picture, the concept of ‘a good night’s rest’ goes out of the picture.

So, give up on the desire to get 7-8 hours of rest each day. Try to get whatever few moments of relaxation you can salvage, and thank the kid for it.

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