This Too Shall Pass!


How can this husband and wife encourage each other when their toddler's sleep habits have left them irritated, exhausted and near tears? Greg Smalley offers insight on making your marriage a priority.

Dear Greg,

My husband and I have a 3-year-old son and a 7-month-old baby. Our 3 year old has decided he no longer needs to sleep at night, and our baby is waking up every few hours. Due to lack of sleep, my husband and I are on each other’s nerves continually. We just moved to a new state, so we don’t know anyone to call to give us a break. How can we remain calm with each other and be encouraging to one another during this challenging time?


The toddler years can be trying in any family’s life. Add sleep deprivation, plus a move to a new community away from your support network, and the stress can feel off the charts. So take a deep breath and get ready for a piece of good news—this too shall pass!

This reminder may not seem like great comfort right now, especially when you’re irritated, exhausted and near to tears. However, hold on to hope and keep looking forward. This truly is just a season, and there are several things you and your husband can do to ensure that you take care of yourselves, each other, and your marriage. 

Do you remember the last time you got on a plane? Before the flight took off, the attendant ran through a safety checklist, including what to do in case the cabin loses pressure. The advice is always the same—when the oxygen mask drops, put it on yourself before assisting someone else. Why? Because you can’t help someone else if you’re the first to go down.

In the same way, you need to stay healthy in order to help your husband and your kids. Start to cultivate a support system of other women. Get involved with a local group of moms, whether it be in a church, an organization like MOPS, or another setting where young mothers gather.  Also, think about what invigorates you. Whether it’s reading, exercise, or going out occasionally with friends, you need to recharge your batteries so you can be the wife and mom you want to be. Arrange for your husband to watch the kids (yes, he can do this!) and do something to revitalize your soul.

Your husband needs to be re-energized as well. Think about what gives him a spark—sports, fishing, exercise, or some other healthy pursuit—and give him a chance to do those things from time to time while you watch the kids. That might seem like a huge request if you take care of the kids all day, but his spirit needs to be refreshed, too.    

Finally, you both need to care for your marriage. Beware of putting your relationship on hold. Make it a priority to talk for at least 20 minutes every day (not just about the bills or other stresses). Also, mark date nights on the calendar, even if they are simply times together at home after the kids are in bed. Laugh together. Most importantly, give each other lots of grace. Be ready to ask for forgiveness, and be willing to extend it. You may be physically and emotionally fatigued at times during this stage of family life, but remind yourselves that you’re going to make it.

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