Do Stay-At-Home Parents Have It Easier With Their Baby’s Sleep?

stay at home mom baby sleepA couple of weeks ago, I talked about Drs. Sears and Weissbluth in their online chat. There was an interesting comment about an elephant in the room when it comes to parents who stay home versus working parents and their sleep training or attachment parenting philosophies. I thought this deserved a proper discussion. After all, I don’t mind talking about elephants.

Truth be told, I never envisioned myself staying home with the kids. I have always loved kids and always imagined having kids. At parties where there were kids, I’d gravitate towards them, play games, and become their favorite adult at the party. I loved them and they loved me. Yet, I never imagined staying home full time with my own. Why, you ask?

Since a young age of 15 or 16 I got my first job at Baskin Robbins (an ice cream shop), became a manager quickly, then moved on to my first office job, then went to college, started my career, went to graduate school, and so on. As much as I always imagined myself as a mother, I also envisioned myself being one of the women who would shatter the glass ceiling. As my wisdom grew about both children and the corporate world, I changed my mind about that glass ceiling in that I found it hard to envision being a CEO of a Fortune 500 company and go to all the kids’ “soccer games” (or whatever event they would be interested in). I didn’t want to be that mom who was always absent or late and I didn’t want to miss out seeing the kids as much. Nowadays, I do see amazing women doing both. There are now family-friendly companies (and family-friendly companies in Canada), that must help, too. I guess I found my own way to be a CEO in this website. :)

Now that I am a mom, I can definitely understand why parents stay home. My husband calls me a “work-a-holic” yet says I’m more of a mom than a career woman. How can that be? I guess I do a good job of balancing work and home… at least I try to. Being a working mom I find it very difficult to get dinner on the table at a decent time, never mind make that dinner healthy. I find “What’s for dinner?” a simple, but extremely stressful question every day, every week. We can make big plans to make multiple meals on the weekend, but it rarely happens. The weekend is when we have soccer games, football games, fun at the zoo, etc. It’s much too busy to cook! We have to squeeze a lot into a little amount of time. So, then, it makes sense that maybe it’s harder for working parents. Or, is it?

It’s easy to say it’s harder for me being a working mom, but I’m not so sure. Come Monday, sometimes it feels like a break from having the kids 24×7 over the weekend! I start to wonder how stay-at-home moms (and dads) do it every day, day in and day out, without a weekend “off” like I have off from work. Sorta. Okay, not really, but it’s less work on the weekend and definitely a change of pace.

Do Stay-At-Home Parents Have It Easier With Their Baby’s Sleep?

Since I am able to talk to a lot of different people on a daily basis, I tend to see similarities in how a family approaches their baby’s sleep. If you are a stay-at-home mom, most of the time you are on your own at night, since your spouse/partner has to work. If you are a working mom, you do most of the work, but sometimes both parents seem to work together. There are exceptions, of course, but the majority of families seem to fall into one of these camps (I have not been contacted by enough stay-at-home dads to say one way or another in that family structure). If you stay home and have a working partner who gets up, count your blessings. If you are the working parent, kudos for you “getting it.” :)

As a working mom, it sort of rubs me the wrong way. If I am a working mom and can get up with the kids at night, why can’t the working partner, so the stay-at-home parent can get some sleep, too?

Here comes the elephant.

There seems to be this implication that if you stay home with the baby (or babies) that you don’t need to be as well-rested. Is it because you can take a nap (or two) every day with the baby? I am sure I have at-home parents who would laugh at that. I should say that I have never studied my client make-up, but I would estimate that I have just as many stay-at-home clients as I do working parents. And, I know why.

  • Just because you stay home with the kids does not mean you need less sleep.
  • Just because you stay home does not mean you don’t need to use your brain the next day.
  • Just because you stay home does not mean it is safe to drive your precious baby around in the car when you got less than two hours of sleep last night.
  • Just because you stay home doesn’t make you a better mom when you are exhausted.
  • Just because you stay home doesn’t mean you don’t get sick more often due to sleep deprivation.
  • Just because you stay home doesn’t give you more patience to deal with a not-sleeping baby.

I’m sure I can go on and on, but the point is that when you have a baby with sleep problems, it isn’t any easier to deal with if you are a working parent or a stay-at-home parent, in my opinion. I will say when I went back to work, it did feel a lot harder, but after months of sleep-deprivation, I’m sure a lot of people would feel just as exhausted as I did.

Cumulative sleep deprivation is hard on anyone physically, mentally, and emotionally. While I think it’s probably a common misconception that stay-at-home parents can take more time and have more patience with their baby’s sleep problems, I think this is more to do with a parent’s personality and the extent of the sleep problems than the parent’s working status. I have clients who are working parents and practice attachment parenting and I have at-home parents that do cry it out and everything in between. Your parenting philosophy is not dictated by whether you work or not and, certainly, your baby, whose temperament may or may not respond favorably to your philosophies, surely is not dictated by your working status.

But, enough about what I think. What do you think?

Do you think it’s easier for at-home parents to handle sleep problems?

Note: I know this topic can get very heated, so please be respectful.

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