Getting enough sleep with a newborn is not as difficult as some mothers will expect. The main rule that applies to all mothers of newborns is to sleep when the infant sleeps. However, the problem is usually not with getting the hours, but getting enough of them blocked together to ever feel rested, and to maintain some semblance of a regular schedule. Regardless of whether both parents or just one are involved in the raising of their children, there are several ways to get better sleep and tricks to keeping a sane sleep schedule.

The real challenge is navigating through the terrible twos, threes, and fours. Young children seem to have an intuitive knowledge of sleep disruption. Between Saturday morning cartoons and Wednesday nightmares, exhausted mothers and fathers may feel that they will never sleep again. The best way for a mother to achieve at least one or two nights of full sleep is to enlist the help of a baby’s father. Using bottled breast milk or formula, a father is armed to take care of a hungry infant at any time of the day or night. That allows Mom to sleep.

Before children are old enough to understand guidelines, parents can simply appoint shifts for taking care of problems. The mother may take three or four days a week to deal with midnight disruptions and the father take the other nights. When the child is old enough, they can be taught to follow their parent’s schedules requesting the on-duty parent’s help and letting the other sleep. Of course, there are always holes in every strategy and sometimes a child simply must have Daddy or Mommy, but for the most part, a schedule is a great tactic for getting better sleep.

Single parent homes also have several options for sleep. Hiring a babysitter to work once a week may buy precious time for a parent to sleep. A single parent on a tighter budget might reach out to a kind family member or a trusted group of friends to take on the burden from time to time. Between behavioral problems and the demands of caring for a child, parents are already fighting a tough battle. Lacking sleep is the perfect recipe for short-tempered parenting. Reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness; it is, instead, a sign of sensible parenting.