I was warned about the sleepless nights by every parent I knew while I was pregnant: “You just have no idea what tired is until you have a newborn baby.”
How tired could I really be? I survived college all-nighters, I traveled on 20+ hour flights without falling asleep, I had my fair share of late nights in my 20s. I’ll be fine. (Embarrassing to admit, I know.)
While all parenthood journeys are different, there’s one thing I can confidently say that we all have in common: We kiss our precious sleep and restful nights goodbye as soon as a newborn enters our world.
When warnings become the reality
In the first few days after having my son, I quickly understood those warnings. “I’m tired” doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of my walking zombie self. I was exhausted — mentally, physically, emotionally.
I was sleeping way less, if at all, and I learned that “sleep when baby sleeps” was useless advice because no matter how tired I was, I couldn’t automatically shut my brain off. It was on constant overdrive just filling up my parental mental load tank: Is he breathing? Is his diaper too tight? Is that an eye open? Is the sound machine too loud? Is that my boob leaking again? When I’d finally fall asleep, it was time to feed again.
It’s daunting to think that when I finally got a 3-hour stretch in the middle of the night I felt like I had just taken a spa day. Or when my baby would only poop through the swaddle once in the middle of the night, I’d high-five my husband and call it a success.
Having a newborn is like an out-of-body experience. And we all just need to survive it.
Survival of the sleepiest
Here’s the good news. We survive it. But that’s not to say you should do it all on your own. We need support and guidance to make this wild, incredible, exhausting, life-changing phase in our lives just a little bit easier. It’s why we created this series of articles in The Ultimate Guide to Sleep for Really Tired Parents.
If you’re expecting, you’ll learn the safest sleeping positions and get answers to why you’re darn so tired all the time. If you already have a newborn at home, there are tons of sleep tips to help you and your little one get more rest at night (and during the day).
We take our sleep tips beyond the newborn phase though, because unfortunately, I can’t tell you that you’ll start sleeping perfectly through the night just because your baby eventually does. (I should say — IF your baby does.) Newborns become babies that hit sleep regressions that become toddlers who have little minds of their own.
And let’s not forget that there’s a lot of “stuff” happening in the world right now. We’re in the middle of a pandemic while doing our best to support the Black Lives Matter movement. Our minds remain on overdrive and while we may not be wondering if the baby pooped through the sleep sack a third time, we’re praying our kids stay safe, our parents remain healthy, and that we teach our children important moral values.
This can put a lot of stress on us as parents, so you’ll get help for that here, too. We have a list of products that can help you get back to sleep if your mind can’t slow down. You’ll also receive tips on how to manage the stress of COVID-19 and learn what types of restorative practices Black parents need in their life right now.
With another baby boy on the way and a toddler keeping me on my toes, I’m preparing for that zombie life again, but I’d like to think the resources in this package will help me feel 10 times more prepared this time around. I will never assume again that college all-nighters prepared me for parenthood, but this guide to getting better, more restful sleep sure does.
Editorial Director, Parenthood