Sweet Dreams, Babe :: Serving a Spouse by Letting Them Sleep


Why, oh why, do little kids wake up so early?! I know, I know, the real answer is something about circadian rhythms and all that, but it was actually a rhetorical question.

Before we had kids, my husband and I enjoyed sleeping in on Saturdays, and we went to the late service at church on Sundays so we could sleep in that day too. I bet you can guess the rest of this story: when our first baby arrived, she slept in until 6:30 a.m. the first year or so, and then when she turned one, she magically began waking daily at 5:30 a.m. Ugh. Can anyone relate?

We now have four, going on five, babies who are all early risers. I am still not a morning person, and neither is my husband. So while we generally get up early, we’ve discovered over the years that one of the best ways to serve one another is to take turns getting up with the kids on Saturdays or school breaks (we’re teachers). The gift of sleep is a glorious thing, even if just an extra hour. Can I get an amen?

The Strategy

In my experience, this all works best if discussed beforehand by both partners. For some families, this may mean that each Friday night you discuss who will get up with the kids in the morning. Naps are a good option too. For those with a spouse who likes to nap, allowing a partner the gift of a nap on a weekend, or even after work, can be a precious gift. Just make sure to discuss beforehand so that both partners know what to expect.

A Disclaimer

Be careful, Mamas, as this strategy can backfire pretty easily if both partners don’t view it exactly as what it is: a way to serve each other. It’s easy to start keeping track (i.e. he slept in last weekend so today is my turn). If score is kept, it’s no longer a way to love each other and instead is a tool of division. It’s better to be tired than mad at your spouse.

Serving with Sleep

I am pregnant with our fifth baby, and thus far it’s been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I was more sick this time than with any previous pregnancy, and I have my usual extreme fatigue with no end in sight. Add in four other kids and a full-time job teaching during a global pandemic, and the word “tired” seems inadequate.

I have gone to bed by 8:00 p.m. most nights for months (thanks, anti-nausea meds that include Unisom), without complaint from my husband, who is left to clean up the kitchen and take the dog out and do all of the other evening tasks that I take for granted. He has allowed me to nap on weekends and whine about being tired, all without complaint. No flowers, jewelry, or nice gift can compare to this gift of service he has given.

So, thank you, Dear Husband, for serving me with sleep.

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Mallory grew up in Oklahoma, met her husband Dave in college there, and they have lived in Maryland, Michigan, and now Alabama since getting married in 2008. She graduated from Michigan State University with a PhD in exercise physiology in 2014, and her family then moved to Birmingham so she could start a job as a college professor. She is mom to five great kids ages nine and under, and considers it a tremendous joy to get to invest in the lives of both her kids and her students. In her free time, Mallory enjoys family walks around the neighborhood, reading to her kids, bargain hunting, home improvement projects, and being involved in the children’s and missions ministries at her church.