Diary of a busy practitioner, juggling work and family somewhere in England

Well, the clocks went back at the weekend. For the first time, shouting 'go downstairs and watch telly' without even opening my eyes worked and this is exactly why we aren’t having any more children.


I spent a good number of years obsessed with bedtimes, and naps, and routine. I was petrified that if they didn’t have a nap at the right time, they wouldn’t go to bed at the right time, and then they wouldn’t sleep through. I value my sleep more than anything in the world. I dream-fed them for so long that it almost ended up having to be a sandwich I shoved in their sleepy faces at 10pm rather than a bottle of milk. For a period that was probably months but felt like years, Deceptively Angelic Child 1 (DALC1) wanted to fall asleep at 5pm and I just couldn’t see how she could go all night so I would keep her up til 6pm, doing funny dances and poking her for the last hour.

I think I’ve been through most things sleep-related with these two ratbags. One slept so well she didn’t put on any weight as a baby, and then stopped sleeping entirely when I went back to work. Bedtime Hell (ie not getting to sleep) has gone on with that particular dustbin lid until recently, when she has settled quite nicely, but we are aware that it could all change again at any moment. It was not that long ago that I promised to sit in her room until she was asleep, and despite snoring she would wake up at the sound of me uncrossing my legs or moving my head so my hair made a noise against my collar. I used to roll out of the room on the floor and slide down the bannister so she didn’t hear my feet on the stairs. That’s not to say we haven’t done controlled crying techniques, and I will challenge anyone who says it didn’t dramatically improve all our lives.

The other lid is going through a prolonged phase of calling out a hundred very important questions at bedtime, such as the recent classic 'if water spouts were water scouts would they wear a uniform?'

Of course, all this always comes at the end of a very long day, whether it be a work day or not. And so the prospect of a 25-hour day is never the best. Of course, you *have* to keep them up til their normal bedtime to stand a chance of them (a) falling asleep and (b) ever sleeping to a normal time in the morning again. Luckily this year it was Halloween so there was sugar and fun to help keep them awake. They still woke up at 5am on Monday though.

I know it is easy to say in hindsight but these things do work themselves out. If you are worried about their routine, and doing something that might spoil it, you can generally put it right again quite quickly. In any event, they are likely to change their routine soon enough themselves anyway. Because, it seems to me, with children everything is just a phase. I don’t think DALC1 would even notice if she didn’t have her favourite toy at bedtime now, whereas in the past we have gone on treks around the county to retrieve him to even stand a chance of her going to sleep.

I don’t want to be one of those people who says to make the most of it, because it is bloody exhausting and I’m sure if we had divorced in the last nine years it would have been as a direct result of Bedtime Hell or general sleep deprivation. But, one day, I’m sure DALC2 won’t ask about water scouts again and DALC1 would prefer us not to even be in the house of an evening, let alone at her bedside.


*Some facts and identities have been altered in the above article