You’ve heard it plenty of times: the best defense and cure for new-mother exhaustion is to “sleep when your baby is sleeping.” But it doesn’t work! The sooner you and your partner accept this, the smoother life will go. Some newborns just don’t sleep. Others doze for an hour or so. By the time you’re ready to do the same, the baby is spitting up. You’re lucky if you get in one baby-sized nap a day. More likely you’ll spend baby’s down time doing everything else your continued existence requires, like paying bills and, oh yes, eating. Even if you accept as much help as you can beg or pay for, you will probably still be exhausted. It’s in the best interest of your own sanity and your loving relationship with your partner to accept that the birth of a baby, though joyful, is also a time of crisis. Until your newborn figures out the difference between night and day there won’t be much difference between the two for you either.
Instead of being offered tips that don’t work, new mothers are better off hearing the truth: sometimes there is no solution to parenting problems. Instead, you just have to muddle through until your child out grows them and introduces you to more ghastly or expensive ones. (Here’s something to look forward to: You’ll know you have a teen driver when Christmas brings a “thank you” gift basket from the auto body shop.) Unrealistic expectations about parenting can fuel tension between a couple. If one–or both–of you thinks your child’s problems can be completely solved, you open the door to relentless criticism, frustration and disappointment with each other for falling short.
Tell me I’m wrong! If anyone has a sure-fire solution to new-parent sleep deprivation or any other age-old parenting problem I’d love to hear it.