My first marriage ended in divorce. We had two little kids under the age of five and never had sex. Three times in seven years to be exact. Did you think I was kidding when I said never?
My energy level and libido were null. Undiagnosed and self treated postpartum depression contributed to the lack of intimacy. My husband at the time felt isolated and hurt. All of my focus and energy went to the kids who barely slept, resulting in an exhausted and irritable wife. Divorce followed seven years later.
I am now happily married to my summer camp sweetheart. It’s a second marriage for the both of us and we have learned to prioritize the health of our marriage and intimacy.
However, after our youngest was born, I started to feel that same level of pure exhaustion. Before having kids, your free time was spent falling in love and attending to your partner’s needs. Now every minute is spent taking care of the kiddos, leaving no time for you or your husband.
Where are my tired mamas at? And what about the lonely dads?
Losing your mind with a baby that’s not sleeping?
Every day is spent tirelessly taking care of little humans, maintaining the house, planning meals and picking up groceries, budgeting, and wiping off countertops and baby butts (sometimes at the same time). Then once 8 p.m. rolls around, your husband starts to get the look in his eye. You know that look? You try to do whatever you can to avoid eye contact …... but then. Ok. He got ya. You got this. You both retreat to the bedroom for some long overdue marital connection and the baby wakes. She’s 9 months old and still waking every 45 minutes at night, and don’t even ask about naps …... because they aren’t even happening.
Marriage is hard
Marriage is hard.
Marriage takes work every single day. As moms, we feel like we never get any time to for us. We are sleep deprived. Our partners feel neglected. All of this leads to a feeling of disconnect and resentment. Resentment towards each other and the children builds at the same rate as of exhaustion and loneliness.
Connection between sleep, marriage, and parenting
Unfortunately, one of the first symptoms of sleep deprivation for moms is a lack of libido and increased irritability. This can turn into feelings of rejection, betrayal and isolation from the other partner. Connecting with your partner is vital for a successful marriage.
The two most common reasons given for seeking a divorce were growing apart and not able to talk together. Growing apart, differences in hobbies, and money problems are negatively associated with interest in reconciliation. In addition to caring for the marriage, lack of sleep for moms is a contributing factor for increased stress and dysfunctional parenting.
Sleep training can help the entire family
Studies have shown that it is the child’s sleep issues that create tension between parents and thus negatively affect the marital relationship. Additional research suggests that existing tension between parents can negatively impact the child's sleep, which then adds to the parents’ tension and has a further negative impact on the marital relationship. It’s a snowball effect.
As a pediatric sleep coach, one of the many benefits a parent can receive from sleep training their little one is actual sleep for themselves. One of my favorite parts about sleep training is the benefit to not only the child but the caretakers themselves. When everyone is better rested, there are more opportunities to get intimate with your partner. AND physically you may feel an increase in libido or desire to connect with your partner sexually.
With that much- needed restorative sleep, moms and dads have energy to “connect” with one another.
After spending countless nights sleep deprived, consoling, rocking, nursing, or praying that your baby falls asleep, parents who have worked with a sleep trainer have raved about the unexpected benefits of intimacy with their partner.
Is sleep training just letting your baby cry it out?
What IS sleep training?
Sleep training or sleep teaching is the practice of falling asleep independently. Without help from anyone or anything else. Unknowingly, parents can fall into the trap of creating a situation where their little one NEEDS them to fall asleep and to STAY asleep. This is a conundrum in which the baby depends on the parent, and the parent is unable to get the sleep that they need in order to function at their highest level. There are several methods that parents can follow to teach their kiddo to sleep, Which subsequently leads to parents sleeping again, feeling more rested and more like themselves.
Sleep training is a process that involves helping babies and young children learn to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. It typically refers to various methods and techniques parents use to establish healthy sleep habits and teach their child to self-soothe and sleep independently.
Sleep training methods can vary, and different approaches may work better for different families and children.
Here are a few common sleep training techniques:
Graduated Extinction/Cry It Out: This method involves putting the baby down to sleep while still awake and allowing them to cry for predetermined intervals before providing comfort. Over time, the intervals gradually increase, giving the child the opportunity to learn self-soothing skills.
Ferber Method: Developed by Dr. Richard Ferber, this method also involves letting the child cry for gradually increasing intervals but includes periodic check-ins from the parent to provide comfort and reassurance.
Chair Method: In this approach, the parent sits next to the child's crib or bed until they fall asleep and gradually moves the chair farther away each night until the child can fall asleep independently.
Pick-Up/Put-Down: With this method, the parent picks up the child when they cry and puts them back down once they calm down. This process is repeated until the child falls asleep.
It's important to note that sleep training is a personal choice, and parents should consider their child's individual needs, temperament, and age. It's also essential to ensure that the child's sleep environment is safe and conducive to sleep. Consulting with a pediatrician or a sleep specialist can provide guidance and support in choosing the right approach for your child and family.
At The Mama Co-Op, we collaborate with each family to support parents through middle of the night wake ups and nap times.
A life of healthier sleep for you and your little one is possible and attainable. A successful and intimate marriage IS possible even for those with little ones at home. Sleep training your baby can lead to reinvigorated intimacy with your partner, but the connection between you and your baby will grow immensely. If you or your little one is struggling with sleep, reach out to the sleep and parenting experts that can help.
At the Mama Co-Op we are working on building an all inclusive community of moms that are looking for support, education and connection. If you would like to feel heard, valued and like you just hung up the phone after sharing all of your worries with a life long bestie, register here to receive information on our next parenting community or here for sleep services.