Dear Father Hood: we’ve just had a baby and are both knackered – should we sleep in separate rooms?
Sleep?! When you’ve just had a baby?! I’ve heard some rib ticklers in my time, but this is a beauty. I mean, sure my wife and I did a bit of dozing and had the odd hallucinogenic catnap in the immediate aftermath of our son’s arrival, but sleep?! It takes several months for that particular joy to return.
Obviously, this means you spend most of your child’s first year wandering around like a concussed zombie. Obviously, this makes performing well at work something of a challenge. And presumably, this is why you and your partner started discussing the whole divide and conquer sleepytime approach.
So should you go for separate rooms or not? I honestly don’t know. I say this not to troll you or waste your time, but because the suitability of this strategy depends on your answers to the following questions.
1. Are you 100% on board with the plan?
If you are, then, congratulations, a good night’s sleep awaits. If you aren’t, then, commiserations, a night of tossing and turning while you wonder if your wife and child are okay awaits.
2. Is your partner 100% on board with the plan?
If she is, then you may be able to talk her down when a seemingly innocuous incident prompts her to lose her rag about how you escape to work all day and then shirk baby duties at night. If she isn’t, then you won’t.
3. Is your baby a good sleeper?
If he or she is, then your partner might just get enough kip to make this plan feasible. If he or she is not, then you need to shut this dream down, get into your bedroom and take two or three hours sleep a night ‘for the team’.
4. Are you willing to work weekends?
Not in the office, silly. In the house. I ask, because successful parenting teams employ a certain amount of give and take. And if your partner gives you weeknights off, she sure as hell expects you to take her hints and give her some rest and relaxation at the weekends.
5. What type of dad do you want to be?
Don’t worry, this isn’t a trick question. And to prove as much, I’ll provide four legitimate answers. You could be a provider, who concentrates on his career in order to make the money that’s required to ensure his children can do whatever they want. You could be a participator, who shelves his career ambitions in order to make sure he’s as involved as he possibly can be in his child’s formative years. You could be part-provider, part-participator. Or you could tell me to stick my stereotypes where the sun doesn’t shine and do your own thing. It’s your choice, but the only thing I will say is: if the path you envisage is a hands-on one, then you really shouldn’t be hiding in the spare room.
Got all that? Great, then I’ll get out into the sunshine and leave you to talk to your better half.