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Girl Talk: Mom vs. Dad Sleep Battles

Q. My husband says that since I don't go to work in the morning, my sleep is less valuable than his. He ignores our baby's cries, and I am up all night. What should I do?

A. Let's be charitable for a moment, shall we? I'm sure your husband is a wonderful, intelligent man. Indeed, he has grasped the fact that you do not go to work. What seems to elude his keen intellect, however, is that you don't go to work because you never leave work. Unfortunately, this is a concept that few dads  -- or even moms  -- truly get. With my first two children, I took the night shift, figuring that I could take a nap the next day if I needed it. The problem was that I always needed it but almost never took it because I was addressing other household responsibilities, like paying bills or keeping everyone in clean underwear.

I started valuing sleep  -- which is different from wanting it  -- only after I brought home my third child. (Hey, I never said I was a quick study.) I finally understood that while I might not be caring for my child every moment  -- thank goodness for naps  -- I was always on call.

I still did the night feedings because I was nursing, but I went to bed early every night and took naps every day. (I also bought everyone more underwear.)

So either split the night duties with your husband, or make time each day to sleep or do whatever recharges you. And don't feel guilty for doing it, because rest is not an indulgence. It is an essential tool that helps you care for your baby with good judgment and good humor. And that makes for a dream job.