The Unpredictability of Sleep for Toddler Dads

Tuesday December 14, 2021 // Pre-Dawn Hours

Outside of a handful of odd nights, since beginning WFH last March (~20 months ago) I’ve been able to sleep until my body naturally wakes me up at around 6:45-7:00 AM. It’s been glorious. Since I graduated college more than a decade ago, my job + commute has had me waking up in the early part of 5 a.m. hour.

Back in the day when I shared a house post-grad with some friends who didn’t have office jobs, this was horrific. Even at 22 years old with all the energy in the world, going to bed every night at midnight, being woken up to your friends stumbling home from the bar at 2 a.m. then up for work and out the door by 5:30 a.m. was impossible to maintain. This eventually led me to staying more nights at my girlfriend’s apartment across town. She had her big girl job, like I had mine. Our lifestyles were so much more closely intertwined.

Fast forward another decade and our lifestyles were even more intertwined with marriage, a mortgage, a dog, and of course a toddler.

Our little man has been all-in-all a fantastic sleeper. No complaints here. Here’s some unsolicited advice for first time dads though — As soon as you get comfortable with their sleep habits, they’re going to change them. My kid is no exception.

It’s always as soon as you finally think it aloud in your head. “My little guy’s/gal’s routine is so spot on. I know they do X at Y time and can expect them to sleep until Z.” The second you decide their sleep routine is set, they change it. Even the ‘good sleepers’.

Related article: Sleep Evaluation of My 5-Week Old

I’m up early this morning, back in that 5 a.m. hour, for the first time in weeks. My little man set off the alarm on the baby monitor. One of his trio of stuffed animals he sleeps with fell through the slats in the crib. I went and rescued Gwynn, his baby penguin, then tucked them back in. With my fingers crossed he’d go back to sleep, I started my morning.

Thirty minutes later and a couple paragraphs into this rambling prose, it’s clear he’s not going back to sleep. I’ll be cutting this off shortly to officially start his morning as well.

Nap times. Bed times. Nightmares. Loud neighbors. Pacifiers. Dropped stuffed animals. There are an infinite number of variables that are going to contribute to the evolution of your small human’s sleep. All we can do is be patient and present and flexible.

– Josh // On his way to a 3-cup of coffee day

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