While it’s easy to look forward to your bouncing bundle of joy, it’s also easy to gloss over just how severely that little bundle is going to impact your life. While children are indeed the most precious gift anyone could have, the fact of the matter is that you need to take a realistic look at what to expect during those first days, weeks, months and years of life. One of the most significant hurdles for many new parents is this whole idea of nighttime parenting.

You see, parenting means you now have duties at night. Never before in your life, unless you’ve worked late hours or a third shift job, has anyone demanded anything from you at 3 AM on a regular basis. Your baby, however, will. When that happens, you’re officially a nighttime parent.

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to put a positive spin on the nighttime parenting process:

  • Remember that it won’t last forever. Eventually, your baby is going to sleep through the night. Take comfort in the light at the end of the tunnel.
  • Understand that your baby is as distressed as you are about the whole situation. You’ve got to adjust to missing a few hours of sleep. Her whole world has been turned inside out and upside down, and in just a matter of weeks she’s gone from an at-will sleep schedule to whatever schedule you’re trying to get her to follow.
  • Stay relaxed. If you get frustrated and tensed up, walk away for a few minutes. If you ever start feeling angry, step back. Don’t allow a lack of sleep to make you angry at your little one.
  • Remember that it’s normal. Babies cry. Babies wake up. It’s part of the process of being a parent. Drop the self-pity and do your duty.
  • Once your baby does fall asleep, congratulate yourself. You’re doing one of the toughest, yet most rewarding, jobs in the entire world.