Having a newborn is a wonderful blessing. There’s no doubt about it. The soft, cozy cuddles, the cooing sounds, and the endless procession of cute faces can be too much to handle sometimes. Becoming a parent for the first time (or even again after a long break) can be an incredible adventure, but it’s not all sunshine and roses.
Feeding schedules, diapers changes, and even the simple act of accommodating the endless stream of relatives and friends that come knocking on the door looking to hold the baby can be a lot of extra responsibility to throw into a professional’s already crowded schedule. For many parents, though, the most difficult thing of all is the lack of sleep.
Habits of getting six, eight, or 10 hours of sleep on a regular basis is something that can easily be lost in the shuffle when an infant arrives on the scene. However, while a dutiful, loving parent will do their best to acclimate and make room for the child they unconditionally love — no matter how that affects their own personal rest — that doesn’t mean that they’re stuck without options. In fact, there are multiple ways to work with a newborn sleep schedule in order to make sure that you’re as rested as possible and can remain both mentally healthy and productive while on the job.
1. Try to Follow a Sleep Schedule
Most occupations follow a fairly strict schedule, and while it’s tempting to throw that scheduled life to the wind when you’re off the job, it can actually be a very helpful tool to help keep both you and your child rested. Not only does a schedule provide you with a more predictable time to sleep, a structured routine can also be very helpful for the child, as well.
For instance, a bedtime routine and accompanying sleep schedule can provide a natural sense of comfort and security, giving a newborn something stable and recognizable. It has also been shown that a solid sleep routine can even help infants begin to develop a sense of independence.
2. Maximize the Sleep You Do Get
It’s always important to make the most of the sleep that you do get. For example, if you manage to get your child to sleep at 7 o’clock in the evening, don’t stay up until midnight binging Netflix. It’s easy to pull out that old excuse that you “need some me time,” but try hard to resist that temptation. While it is certainly true that you need time for yourself, you should try to avoid taking that time at the expense of your own sleep and mental wellness whenever possible.
Even if you’re spending the evening tending to the house, doing laundry, or catching up on work on your laptop, it’s still important to know when it’s time to call it quits and give yourself some rest. It’s recommended that you only give yourself around a half hour to work in the evening. Then make a list of what’s left to do so that you don’t have to go to sleep worrying about finishing a project. Another option is to try to take naps when the child is sleeping during the day. Even if you’re traditionally not a napper, it can be worth a try.
Obviously, each situation is different, and things like going to bed at a reasonable time or taking a quick nap can feel impossible at times. But these aren’t rules to stress you out, they’re simply suggestions to strive for. Everyone’s situation is different and the simple act of being willing to look for small ways to get that extra sleeping time — rather than simply throwing your hands up in insomnia-induced despair — can make a big difference on the amount of rest you actually get.
When you do sleep, whenever the time, make sure to do everything you can to facilitate proper sleep. Try creating a bedtime routine for yourself, don’t watch screens with blue light too close to going to bed, and even watch out for things like falling asleep in your contacts. You should always take your contacts out before going to bed unless they’re sleep approved — and even then, be careful! It may sound like a silly thing to worry about, but to an exhausted parent, the thought of removing their eyewear can be the furthest thing from their mind at the end of a long day. In other words, set yourself up for some sleepy success.
3. Try Working Remotely
The ability to work remotely becomes easier and easier every year. The ever-evolving and improving world of technology helps with everything from communication to collaboration and can make it easy to do part or even all of your job off-site. If you work at a company that fosters an employee-centric culture and strives to provide competitive benefits , there’s a good chance that they’re already set up to have employees work remotely whenever it makes sense.
Even if that isn’t already the case, though, it may be worth inquiring if remote work is a possibility, as there are several ways that this can be helpful with a newborn sleep schedule, including:
- Giving you more time that would typically be spent commuting.
- Providing a level of flexibility to work around your newborn’s sleep schedule and make sure that you’re getting a chance to sleep, too.
- Allowing you to find the optimum work-life balance from home that maximizes your productivity and minimizes the amount of time that you need to spend working.
If working remotely is out of the question, it can be beneficial to your mental health and connection with your child to at least set up your workspace within the office with pictures and displays of your newborn in order to help ameliorate the stress, especially during those initial times of separation.
Surviving and Thriving
There’s no doubt that surviving a newborn sleep schedule can be challenging. Balancing your infant’s sleep needs with your own is something that takes patience and effort as you strive to identify and then embrace the two schedules, weaving them into a lifestyle that works best for both of you.
Thankfully, things like working remotely, adopting a sleep schedule for both you and your child, and making the most of the sleep you do get can all help to keep your body rested, your mind sharp, and your work efforts on point. As you work to implement things like these, remember to also try your best to stay focused on the positive. There are many emotions at work in the wake of a birth and a lack of sleep can easily aggravate them. Looking for the good in everything around you and your child is always a wise way to keep your spirits up and maintain a thankful attitude each and every day.
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