What do newborn babies and zombie bites have in common?
They can both make you a creature of the night.
While there’s no cure for a zombie virus, there are ways to deal with the plague of sleep deprivation that accompanies every new baby.
I’ve been through quite a few events in my life that left me really short on sleep.
All-nighters of (ahem) studying in college, overnight hospital visits with seriously ill relatives, long road trips and the occasional need to care for sick children that just can’t make it through the night without you.
However, the birth of a new child offers a unique challenge to parents. Newborn babies rarely sleep through the night for several weeks, and there’s really nothing that you can do to avoid waking up to feed the little angels every few hours…without exception.
If you have children, then you have surely experienced life in the frazzled, drowsy, confusing state of sleep deprivation. You know what it’s like to live as a zombie parent!
As you may know, we welcomed our third child (Avery) into our family less than two weeks ago, so I’m right in the middle of life with little sleep. However, as my experience living as a undead new parent has grown, I’ve found some great ways to cope with a lack of sleep.
Next time you’re faced with sleepless nights, try these tips to keep your head in the game.
If you want to maintain your sanity and avoid total burn-out, it’s really important that you share the demands of parenting a new baby (and any other children you already have). This is a time when you can serve your spouse by stepping up and being fully involved in the child-rearing duties, especially those that happen under the cover of night.
In our house, that means that I do all of the overnight diaper-changing and then hand off to my wife to feed our newborn. This split in responsibilities helps my wife get a little more sleep but, more importantly, it demonstrates that I’m willing to do what I can to help care for our baby and “be there” as a husband and father…even at night.
By the way, single parents simply amaze me, and these experiences make me more aware than ever that Moms in general are incredible. There’s no way I could handle the demands of parenting a new baby on my own, and I applaud anyone who has been through it.
If you’re like most of us, you lead a very busy life that keeps you hopping between responsibilities inside and outside of your home. During the most stressful first few weeks of your new baby’s life, you should step away from optional commitments as much as possible. Your church groups, civic organizations and your softball buddies will surely understand that this is a time to focus on your family and spend your time and energy at home.
For me, that’s meant a little less time writing here at Engaged Marriage, missing a meeting at the Knights of Columbus council where I am usually quite active, and taking a week off of work to be home and get to know our new daughter. It can be tough to unplug, but there is simply no way to get these special moments with your new baby back once they’ve passed.
It may seem counter-intuitive to use up your precious energy by exercising. However, there is simply no better way to relieve stress and give your body a boost than by following a regular workout routine before and after the arrival of your new baby.
I know that very new moms are limited in their ability to exercise, but many can take an easy walk depending on their health status. If physical activity is out of the question, it can really be helpful to simply “exercise your mind” by taking a little time to read, solve puzzles and just stimulate your brain a bit.
This is been a real lifesaver for me over the past two weeks. It’s tough to find the time, but the regime I follow only takes 30 minutes to complete, it has a lot of variety to keep it interesting, and I can do it at home.
Most days, I’ll take our two older kids downstairs with me while my wife stays with Avery. The kids only need to stay clear of an about 6-foot by 6-foot area where I workout, and my son actually likes to join me for some of the moves!
In most cases, new babies invite lots of interest and offers of help from friends and family. You should gratefully accept the assistance of your loved ones, and take advantage of their help, as it will keep your energy levels up.
Plus, it will make your family and friends feel like part of your newborn’s life, which they’ll love!
Bethany and I have been blessed to have several friends bring over delicious meals for our family since we arrived home from the hospital. Not only does this save us the time, energy and money of buying groceries and preparing meals for ourselves, but we really enjoy the short visits that come along with the food drop-offs.
It sure helps break up the cabin fever.
Above all else, always keep in mind the reason behind your fatigue and lack of sleep. Remember that all of this sacrifice is needed to care for a precious gift from God.
The struggles of sleep deprivation are temporary, but the joy of parenting is forever.
Sure, Avery is costing us some sleep and probably adding a few gray hairs in the process, but there is simply no better way to spend our time and energy than caring for such a beautiful child.
We are blessed to be parents, three times over, even if we do sometimes feel like zombies in the process. 🙂
I’d love to hear your favorite ways to deal with a lack of sleep when a new baby arrives, so please share them in the comments.
I’ll read them later…I need to feast on the brains of the living go to bed right now! 🙂
Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.