Some of the best advice I have ever received to date about having a child is, no matter what, let your partner sleep. Above all else, make sure both parties have had some sleep. Unexpected things will happen, frustration and confusion will no doubt ensue. Tempers will run hot. You will have to experiment, and learn a lot. Finding a solution to a situation may take a long time. It may take hours, it may take days.
There is a reason that sleep deprivation is used as form of torture, and a way to get information. Without sleep, reason begins to have no value. Rational conversation does not exist. My daughter is 7 months old in 2 days. Each and every time my wife and I have gotten into it, sleep has been pretty scarce. We are not 2 people that get after each other a lot. But you start taking away sleep, and I am the first to not want to talk to anyone, let alone start solving problems.
Some how, some way, make sure your wife/the mother sleeps. I adjusted my work schedule to come home in the am for a few hours to give my wife a break, and this was Huge!! My wife works a bit, and takes care of our daughter full time. Her plate is jammed full, so a bit of time to sleep, or shower, or leave, or workout, saves the day.
Sleep is Success! Let your wife recharge, and your life will be a whole lot better.
2 years later commentary
And this continues to be increasingly true even as our girls get older. Sleep is literally a goldmine. We have chosen to co-sleep with our kids, and this at times has its challenges. In the end I believe we made the right choice for us. But I cannot tell you it has maxed out our sleep, especially my wife.
It still remains true that the collapse of sanity usually follows a very light dusting of sleep. The game for us has now become the sleep and eating combination. If our girls wake up, they immediately need to eat. They always wake up hungry. And with small kids they don't always know thats the case. But if you let too much time squeeze in between waking up and eating, the tantrums will very soon make you want to pull all the hairs off your head.
We have 2 girls that are 19 months apart (youngest is 2), so as you can imagine, individual sleep needs begin to vary as ages change. We sleep in the same bed, and for the most part try to keep our sleeping times the same. We go to bed about 8pm-9pmand the girls wake up about 7. As my wife will attest the nights are always full of wake ups and snuggles and now sometimes even changes of clothes from our oldest.
We have them both take a nap and this still works. I have them during the day so I lay down with them about 1 or 1:30usually. Depending on how the day goes and the last nights sleep it varies a bit. The three of us nap together and this typically will be a 2 hr sleep. Depending on how my day and night have been determines whether I will sleep or just do work while laying there in between the snugglequeens. When they were younger I would sleep a lot more due to my lack of sleep working long hours. Now, my wife has taken on the working so I am a bit more well slept, so I have energy to stay awake.
As the years have rolled on, I have began to value fatigue more than time as a signal to put them to sleep. Watching your child's behavior will tell you when they need to sleep. Granted this is something that takes time, but in my humble opinion you are much better off to put a child to sleep when you see them nearing the end of their rope, than you are to rigidly stick to a time for some ideal that you read in a book. An overtired small person is quite the situation. Logic and coordination have left the building, and crying takes on a whole new exorcist twist. Hanging on to the last thread of sanity you possess becomes quite challenging in these times.
This small piece of advice, "let your partner sleep," is still the best advice I have received. You need your partner. You need your sanity. You need each other. Adulting with a small child, or small children in your care is a hell of a challenge. Its your own challenge, and the nuances and decisions are going to vary. But we all need sleep. The team just plays better when they have a good nights rest. If your kids didn't sleep, get them rest. Not much steps in the way of bedtime and naptime in our house, because we have suffered the wrath many times. Let me know in the comments how sleep has gone for you guys.