Recently two of our kids were sick and needed help at night. Sometimes it’s crystal clear when you need to parent at night (when a kid throws up). Other times it is more of a parental choice. Will I sleep next to your bed so you feel safe during a thunderstorm? Will I rub your back and help you fall asleep when you are sleeping in a new bed? Will I comfort you when you wake up from a scary dream? Will I help you fall back asleep when you get up 3 hours earlier than expected? Will I comfort you when I have no clue why you woke up?
When you choose to parent at night, it is a challenging balance. If I stay up or wake up multiple times at night, I’ll be sleep deprived and I’ll probably have less patience with our kids during the day. To find a balance I sometimes sleep next to a sick kid rather than stay awake as they drift off to sleep. Sometimes I turn the TV on at 5am so we can both rest on the couch. But most of the time this means just giving everyone a break. Just acknowledging that I’m low on sleep and lowering my expectations can help all of us stay calm until we have a chance to catch up on sleep again.