You hear about the sleep deprivation that comes with being a parent. You also hear that every baby is different. As an entrepreneur, you have the freedom to work and be the involved parent you want to be. But what isn't discussed is how to not lose your mind when you're dealing with a baby that won't sleep.
My baby is almost six months old, and I had a blissful first three-and-a-half-months of motherhood. In fact, at one point, I thought - I'm not even tired! I had mastered the art of the afternoon nap to make up for the multiple night feedings, and my baby was sleeping for longer and longer stretches. At three-and-a-half-months, that all stopped. All of a sudden, she was waking every hour or two, and it was happening night after night. The Superwoman Mom cape I had been metaphorically wearing started to get put in the back of the closet. I suddenly felt tired and emotionally drained.
So, after two-and-a-half-months of more wakings than I can count and my heart strings pulled to the point of breaking - what have I learned? Here are three things I've done to prevent total loss of control while continuing to meet my business goals:
1. Let your partner take over: I still haven't figured out why in our modern-day world that it's rare for a man to consider doing 50% of childcare - especially in the baby stage. It remains mostly the woman's duty despite both parents working. I keep thinking - won't the modern man start thinking that 50% is the start to being an involved Dad? I am one of the lucky ones in that my partner is contributing more than most and is a very involved dad, especially when the sleeping began to be problematic. What we quickly realized is that he doesn't have the emotional drain that I get from hearing her cry or seeing her unsettled. That's the part of the sleep deprivation story that isn't shared. Women have the added emotional trauma that is a biological response to their baby struggling. One way I've stayed sane? Let him take over the nights and have guilt-free sleep. Or even let it happen, a lot. It does require me to pump so it's not something I want to make permanent but it's kept me on the right side of sane.
2. Love your work: I write about how to love your work all the time - it's my calling in life. However, I have never loved it so much as I do when times are tough. Why? Because my work is a refuge. It gives me energy and it fuels me forward when my gas tank is on empty. I always say loving work is the path to success but what I've learned through this experience is that work you love is your friend through tough times. When I can't leave the house or I don't have the energy to do anything other than survive and play with my baby - my work is my entertainment.
3. Take Naps often: There is nothing better than a nap. I couldn't take them when I was pregnant because of acid reflux but now I embrace them whenever I can. Naps have seriously helped me stay myself more often than I can count.
4. Live a lot of life before you have a kid: I waited until I was 43 to have a kid and while there are downsides to being an older parent - when times are tough, there are some serious positives. Such as the fact that I have lived a lot of life, I've eaten out more times than I could ever count, and I have had so much freedom that I had freedom to spare. So, giving up my life as I knew it has not been hard, at all. In fact, my uber simple life has been fun.
5. Choose a partner that you can be with 24/7 and that you trust: My partner and I have definitely had our not so good moments over the past six months - having a baby is a major transition. He's also the one human that I see every day - all day long. We both are entrepreneurs so neither of us are going to the office. With that said, I trust him implicitly, and when he's in Daddy mode, I can totally relax and have a moment to myself. I could not imagine it being any other way. You need to have a partner or support team that treats your baby with as much love as you would and that you can be around all the time. This one is definitely one of the most important of them all.