They say opposites attract, but my husband and I are a lot alike. We both love to sleep late and get kind of bitchy when we’re low on Z’s.
Our mutual love of lazy Sundays kept us perfectly in sync when we were dating, but not so much once we had our first baby. Sleep-deprived and hostile, we spent more time keeping score than enjoying our new roles as parents. “She got up at the crack of dawn, and you just rolled over and went back to bed,” I would gripe. “But you passed out at 8:00 p.m., and I got up with her at midnight!” He’d yell back.
We weren’t truly angry with each other; we just needed more sleep. So much more sleep. And since it could have been years before that happened naturally, we took matters into our own hands with a radical new plan. Every Saturday morning, Dave would sleep as late as his heart desired. On Sundays, it was my turn.
And it was miraculous.
No matter how little sleep I got on an average night, just knowing my personal sleep-in day was coming was enough to power me through the whole week. It was a mental game. So what if I’m up with the baby four times tonight, I get to sleep in this weekend!
The weekends have fallen into a nice routine. On Saturday mornings, I make chocolate chip pancakes or take the kids to the farmer’s market. On Sundays, Dave takes them out for bagels and sometimes to the park. We let each other sleep for as long as needed and allow one another a buffer of re-entry time before we have to actively parent again. For me, that means enjoying my Sunday bagel with coffee in bed before a long, hot shower. It is heaven.
Date nights became possible again, with Saturday night being the magical intersection between one well-rested parent and the other knowing sleep was coming. We fight less and find it easier to help each other through the rough nights without keeping score.
So did we tweak the schedule once our kids finally started sleeping through the night? Nope! We’ve been following the plan now for almost seven years. Because even though our kids aren’t tiny babies anymore, they still find ways to steal our sleep. There are sugar rushes that don’t subside until an hour past bedtime. Missing stuffed animals that require late-night expeditions to the garage. Nightmares and, just to keep things interesting, night terrors. Random fevers. “I need some water.” “I think I’m going to throw up…on you.” Sleep-in days are essential to our sanity.
Admittedly, there are some downsides to trading off sleep-in days with a partner. It can feel lonely doing solo parenting for hours on end while the rest of the world is enjoying family time. We literally never have brunch together and often turn down invitations to do anything as a family on a weekend morning. If something special comes up, like apple picking or a museum day, I’m more likely to sacrifice my own sleep-in hours so that we can partake, because, well, priorities. And our Home Owner’s Association meetings always seem to fall on Sundays, which is such a screw.
These minor issues aside, I highly recommend getting creative when it comes to getting your sleep on. Sleep is like the world’s greatest beauty product combined with an anti-depressant. Sleep hardly needs a marketing line to sell it, but several come to mind. Sleep: There is no substitute. Sleep: It’s what’s for breakfast. Sleep: So much better for you than crack.
Look, I’m a hands-on SAHM who gets plenty of quality time with our kiddos, so I’ll say it here for all the world to see; I sleep until noon nearly every Sunday, and I don’t feel guilty at all.