Family and Parenting

Why I Don’t Think Your Partner Should Get Up in The Night

It’s sometimes hard to decide which is the biggest pain in the ass: the tear/piles/prolapse (delete as appropriate) sustained whilst pushing another human out of one’s hoo-haa; the continuous toddler meltdowns which thus ensue; or the dreaded sleep-deprivation – in my case caused by colic. Which is another post in itself…

During these early days, we get through however we need to. It’s all well and good proclaiming we’ll never co-sleep or use a dummy, but if it’s a case of stick to your guns or get some zzz’s? Well, put it this way: I appear to be co-sleeping. Groan.

 

How Did That Happen?

It’s the one thing, for the sake of my marriage, I really wanted to avoid. I managed not to do it with Pixie despite her initial refusal to sleep unless she was lying on one of our chests. But this time, though Elfin is incredibly chilled out when she is chilled out, when it comes to the evenings it’s a battle just to get half an hour to put our feet up before it all begins again.

I’m not exaggerating – we literally often don’t get even thirty minutes downtime as husband and wife, with both children sleeping. It’s relentless and exhausting.

I am so knackered. I am also so lucky. But damn – I could use a holiday. And I know that won’t happen for a very long time yet. Sure, we may have a few days away as a family, but let’s be real: that ain’t no holiday for mummy and daddy.

Night times with a baby or toddler are tough - especially if you don't get enough help from your partner. But should your husband get up in the night if they're working the following day?

So How Are We Coping?

For a start, I don’t expect my husband to get up in the night. Never have, never will. He gets up between 4.30 and 5.30am to go out to work to take care of us. And while he’s doing that, sure, I’m at home taking care of our babies. And yes, I am often on my knees by the time he gets home.

But I need the breadwinner in our family to go out and earn a crust.

Hubby makes more than I do at the moment (I work ‘part-time’ – though you wouldn’t think it, every spare moment I have – haha – is ploughed into the blog) and we are both self-employed. Our family can’t afford for him to be too tired to do a hard day’s graft. His job is physical and hazardous – I can’t afford for him to not be on the ball, either. (Actually, I’d probably be quite well off, but I think I’d prefer to have a husband and a father for my babies than a big payout. Then who would help me at the weekends?!)

 

Fairness and Balance

And that’s the thing – he does help me at the weekends, and in the afternoons and evenings when he gets home. He does as much as he can; and he’s able to because I don’t expect him to get up through the night.

Since I’m breastfeeding, it’s not like he can do very much to assist anyway. (That said, he will get up for Pixie if she wakes and he hears her or if I’m busy with Elfin.)

 

Should Dad Get Up in the Night?

I’ll gladly confess that in my view, it’s a harsh expectation to hold.

This may be unpopular or unwelcome; that’s fine: as you’ll be aware by now, I don’t shy away from controversial.

For the record, my husband more than pulls his weight around the house. We’re a great team. He’s very supportive. That goes both ways, and I like to think it keeps our marriage strong when we have two little darlings hellbent on destroying our relationship

There is another way in which we’re coping. It’s one I’ve been hesitant about sharing – but I’m gonna do it. Next week.

What are your thoughts? Do you make/let your partner get up during the night to help with the baby, even if they have to get up for work the following morning?

This post has quickly become my most (un)popular post ever. I’ve really infuriated some people and mostly it’s because I think I’ve been misunderstood. There are several comments both below and on social media which take my views out of context, and so I’ve written a follow-up post explaining how actually, I’m a traditionalist and a feminist – the two are not mutually exclusive.

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30 Comments

  1. Hayley

    July 25, 2017 at 6:43 am

    I’m intrigued to know what ‘the other way of coping’ is now? I have one sure fire way to keep my hubby happy but my mum reads my blog so I can’t share those tips lol! I’m with you though, I wouldn’t dream of letting hubby get up in the night. I pride myself on the fact he’s never had a broken nights sleep. He can’t do much anyway it’s me the milk machine that has the solution lol!

    1. Kate Tunstall

      August 3, 2017 at 2:30 pm

      It’s up on the blog this week so I hope you’ve had a chance to read!

      Hahaha! Some things are sacred!

      Well that’s my view!

  2. Lizzie

    July 25, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    We’re in the same situation as you so I’m completely with you but I think it all depends on circumstance. Darren has helped me before in the nights because our children were relentless and he usually always takes over at the weekends. However, he also gets up anywhere from 4am and sometimes has long drives ahead of him so no matter what happens during the night I just get on with it as quietly ad possible because I’m so frightened he’d one day have an accident due to tiredness. The risk just isn’t worth it. But if he got up at 7am everyday I reckon I’d call upon him every now and then 😉

    1. Kate Tunstall

      August 3, 2017 at 2:31 pm

      This is it exactly. Sounds like we handle things quite similarly. x

  3. Mandi

    July 25, 2017 at 6:13 pm

    Totally agree with you, I have breastfed all seven of our children and I would never expect my husband to get up for the night feeds, but he more than makes up for it supporting me with all of the other children.

    1. Kate Tunstall

      August 3, 2017 at 2:32 pm

      You’ve breastfed seven?! Oh my gosh you are Superwoman! I make you completely right.

  4. Amy Treasure

    July 25, 2017 at 7:21 pm

    I couldn’t agree more! Justin gets up before 6am every morning and works a hard job both physically and mentally. Over the years his employees haven’t turned up for work many times. The excuse? “I’ve been up with the baby all night” I have always been totally gobsmacked by this: why couldn’t the wife/girlfriend take care of the baby? I certainly took it as my role; and like you would never in a million years have expected J to do it..he did give me the odd rub on the back as I lay breastfeeding and mutter “you’re amazing” and then go back to sleep. I never once felt resentful. Great post darling xxxx

    1. Kate Tunstall

      August 3, 2017 at 2:33 pm

      Thank you my love. That’s my view but of course everyone is entitled to their opinion – and it seems this topic is a rather divisive one! xxx

  5. The Love of a Captain

    July 25, 2017 at 11:30 pm

    My OH gets up various times through the night to the kids, as do I. They are his children as much as they are mine, regardless of the fact that he works. I work hard too and sometimes, working until early hours of the morning. Every family situation is different. x

    1. Not a mummy shamer

      July 29, 2017 at 1:49 pm

      Yes!

    2. Not a mummy shamer

      July 29, 2017 at 4:21 pm

      Yes!

    3. Kate Tunstall

      August 3, 2017 at 2:34 pm

      You’re quite right, and in your situation I’d expect the same. x

  6. Amber

    July 26, 2017 at 10:14 am

    Really? Look, I work a full-time job – if I hadn’t got up with the babies in the night, I would literally only have seen them at weekends. When do you bond if not during those glorious, excruciating after-midnight hours, just you and baby and the moon and that fuzzy haze of sleep deprivation?

    There are things that are worth sacrificing sleep for; I don’t believe that one baby can exhaust you to the point of not being able to function at work, and I had two of them and a job that is more demanding than most. You just have a coffee, try not to have a breakdown and remember why you’re doing it. 🙂 The memories are worth the sacrifice.

    1. Kate Tunstall

      August 3, 2017 at 2:37 pm

      I’m uncertain as to which parent you’re referring to, or if both. Either way, I see your point. I just don’t see the benefit of getting a second (working) parent up in the night if the first parent is breastfeeding. As I said, for me, hubby is of more use when he’s well-rested. I’d prefer one of us at least to be on the ball!

  7. Rachel

    July 29, 2017 at 8:41 am

    Great blog … my husband goes over and above to support at weekends and after work but he has a stressful job and manages a large team so I like to know he is as on the ball as he can be therefore I don’t expect him to do the night feeds .
    I bottle feed our newborn and he does the last bottle before bed so I can get some sleep before I do the night shift which includes newborn feeds and a toddler … sometimes it can be an eventful night .. xx

    1. Kate Tunstall

      August 3, 2017 at 2:38 pm

      Thanks Rachel, your husband sounds similar to mine. And I consider myself lucky despite hubby not getting up during the night! xx

  8. susielhawes

    July 29, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    I agree, especially if you’re breastfeeding. The first 2 weeks paternity leave my husband was up with me to help change my baby and help me get comfortable as I was struggling but once he went back to work I did it all and tried not to disturb him. Our toddler sleeps quite well but as I’m expecting again I think our plan will be for me to sort the baby and if the toddler wakes at the same time he can sort her out. But she only tends to wake if she’s unwell or in a new place… Though I’m wondering if that may change when the baby arrives! X

    1. Kate Tunstall

      August 3, 2017 at 2:40 pm

      Precisely! My husband was brilliant during his leave and basically any time he’s not having to be focused for work. He’s great around the house and with the children during waking hours. And he helps with the toddler in the night if he hears her and I’m busy with the baby. x

  9. Not a mummy shamer

    July 29, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    Seriously?! What is this drivel? Another example of women putting each other down and mummy shaming. So my husband sometimes gets up with the baby. Actually it’s more like he gets up half the time with the baby. You know, because we’re not in the 17th century anymore, and he actually considers being involved in this part of parenting as his responsibility too. Why should one parent be anymore exhausted than the other? Being at home with a small human is physically and emotionally relentless. If that person happens to be a mum (a massive assumption on the authors part) why does that mean that she should make a rod for her own back in some dated 50s housewife ambition of keeping her male partner (another assumption from the author) happy?! Just do whatever works for your family unit and f**k all this b******ks.

    1. Kate Tunstall

      August 3, 2017 at 2:41 pm

      I’ll just direct you to my post responding to the negative comments here. Link above.

  10. Sylvia

    July 29, 2017 at 10:07 pm

    Utterly unacceptably sexist! Not every dad is the main bread winner! Won’t be in our house as of Monday! And will still bloody have to get up! Sexist views like this should be kept to themselves! Your house isn’t my house, so don’t make such unacceptable for today’s societies assumptions! And I’m not even a hardcore feminist, this kind of drivel is what keeps the pay-gap and glass-ceiling for women firmly in place! Shame on you!

    1. Kate Tunstall

      August 3, 2017 at 2:43 pm

      Sorry you feel this way, Sylvia, but I’m afraid you’ve made a few (incorrect) assumptions of your own. I’ll just direct you to my post responding to the negative comments here. Link above.

  11. Sheryl

    July 30, 2017 at 3:07 am

    I work a full time job with a 2 hour commute. My husbands commute is five minutes. Why should my children grow up without a mum because i have had an accident? Yes, if you dont work the argument against just living with the sleep deprivation is harder, but i also remember how relentless it is being the full time carer as it wasnt very long ago. Plus yes i breastfed. My husband ALWAYS did friday night though regardless as he had the sat night / sun night to recover. Now i’m working again, its 50/50.

    1. Kate Tunstall

      August 5, 2017 at 2:55 pm

      Oh in your current situation I’d probably expect to be doing less than 50% of the night times! My argument applies both ways, regardless of which parent has the longest/hardest day at work.

  12. Nicola

    July 31, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    I don’t think the author even mentioned gender roles? She said she doesn’t work and her husband does so she feels she should get up in the night and let him sleep. I think that’s more than fair. If she was working and he was at home perhaps they would do things differently. My children are older so we don’t have to get up in the night anymore but I work part time and my partner works full time so I do the majority of the household chores. When we both worked full time we shared it and when I worked more hours than him..
    He did the lion’s share.

    1. Kate Tunstall

      August 5, 2017 at 3:00 pm

      Thank you Nicola, you’re right. If roles were reversed then yes – I’d expect him to be getting up in the night. Although I don’t think that set up is very feasible if mum is breastfeeding – thank God for mat leave! It must be incredibly hard for those superheroes who somehow manage it.

  13. Irena

    August 7, 2017 at 7:42 am

    I felt I have to say that I agree with everything you said and then some. In my case I was breastfeeding twins and from the third night I moved the three of us to the babies’ room to make matters easier. I was on maternity leave for two years so I consider myself to be extremely lucky. I saw no reason for my husband to wake up in the night when he would have to be at work early in the morning. Besides, I would be the one to deal with his sleep deprivation grumpiness during the day as not everyone can handle it with the same amount of grace. Whereas some of our friends saw this as being unfair I would not change it for the world. Those quiet one on one moments with each baby for the first two years when I was breastfeeding exclusively were really precious and they are wonderful memories for me. Even when I returned to work full time, I still chose to be the one to get up for their every need for another year. When they were three I moved back to my own bedroom and the children never got up during the night but I feel it is because they had had enough of what they needed and were ready to sleep through the night. If my husband had been forced to wake up he would have tried to rush things and I would have missed out on so much. I can see how some people may not agree and I can respect that but it is different for every family and there is always a method that fits the specific circumstances as well as personalities in a family so there is no golden rule there. In my mind, the most important thing is to enjoy our children as much as we can and manage to stay sane through the adjustment period of the first years.

    1. Kate Tunstall

      August 7, 2017 at 2:46 pm

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience.

      I couldn’t agree more – enjoying our young families is what’s most important!

  14. Jo - Pickle & Poppet

    August 12, 2017 at 11:51 am

    I get it! When I was on maternity leave I wouldn’t expect my husband to get up in the night, he had work to do the next day. If I was lucky I would be able to catch a quick nap if I needed to. Now I’m back at work and we both leave at the same time to go to work I do expect him to help out if he hears. To be honest I sleep much lighter than him so hear sooner but if late he has been dealing with our three year old if he wakes up in the night which has been a god send.

    I think you just have to do what works for you as a family and as parents.

    1. Kate Tunstall

      August 14, 2017 at 10:13 pm

      Exactly! If I was going out to work then of course my expectations would be different. As it is, I live for the weekends when I know I’m due a break! 😉

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