With the arrival of a new baby comes new challenges like adjusting the other kids to the attention-hogging newbie and pressing on with everyday chores. Then there’s the terrible sleep due to newborns’ dreaded “day-night reversal”. It’s easy to resent those little sleep-stealers, but God can and does redeem even these tiring days for good.
Here are four reasons I’m glad for our baby’s (tiring!) disruption of our schedule:
1) Our other children need lots of time and reassurance from us that they haven’t been displaced from our hearts and lives by baby’s arrival. Since our newborn sleeps a lot during the day, we are often able to still do things with just our twin toddlers “like the old days”: sharing meals, reading together, and putting them down for nap without little brother around. I’m also trying to be more deliberate with frequently telling them I love them, like every single time I take them out of their cribs. This is helping me to be a more intentional nurturer.
2) Nighttime feedings give us some extra bonding time to hold and snuggle with the baby without his siblings around needing our attention. It’s important for baby’s development and nice for mom and dad because, who doesn’t love baby snuggles?
3) I’m continuing to grow in prioritizing. I don’t need to stay up reading articles for another hour; I need to go to bed. Sleep is important. It’s a good gift from God. Psalm 127:2 talks about not losing sleep over “anxious toils” but also makes the point that sleep is a gift from God to His beloved. We shouldn’t squander our time when we need to rest.
4) And, yes, it’s sanctifying. It’s pushing me to love by proactively NOT being irritable. Few things can make you more irritable and resentful than sleep-deprivation compounded by regressing toddlers and a needy baby. Paul writes in his famous “love chapter” (1 Cor 13:5) that love is “not irritable or resentful.” Pastor Phil Ryken notes that irritability is “the very opposite of love… the antithesis of charity. It is not merely a way of complaining, therefore, but actually a way of hating.”* One of my former pastors pointed out the poison of irritability to me and I’ve never forgotten this, though I still battle it regularly. Our current season is a good time for me to seek to grow in holiness by loving my wife and kids even when it’s easier to get annoyed because I’m tired and being inconvenienced.
So now we continue to grow in gratefulness as we thank God for our little blessing, our “heritage from the Lord” (Psalm 127:3).
I trust the price we are paying by sleeping less helps us to love our children well and grow in our love for and service to the Lord.
*Ryken, P. G. (2012). Loving the way Jesus loves. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, p. 46.