Bedtime Blues

I’m sure you’ll have noticed I haven’t been blogging as much recently. (Let’s be honest, it hadn’t crossed your mind at all had it?) There are a few reasons for this; not least because post-Christmas winter is the most rubbish time of the year and I’ve been hitting the wine hard in an effort to keep warm and sane. I’ve been finding hard to find the time to write because there have been some significant to changes to our routine and it seems to be harder and harder to acclimatise each time this happens.  

The main thing that has me befuddled is, of course, my kids. I have been utterly disconcerted by their changing bedtime. They are eroding our kid free evenings like climate change working on an iceberg. If you accept that Global Warming is a misnomer and describe climate change as increasing chaotic energy in the atmosphere, then this is remarkably apt metaphor. This has been a velvet revolution. There have been no marked conflicts, no fire fights or raised voices, it’s just been a gradual war of attrition. (*Listens to gears crunch as the metaphor changes from geography, to history, to car maintenance). 

I know it’s unreasonable to expect 7 and 4 year olds to be in bed by 6:30, but good grief I wish it wasn’t. By the time I make it down the stairs these days I am gnawing on the bannister with hunger. My body clock cannot cope with dinner happening after 8:30, but I would still prefer to eat hake with my husband than miserably gnaw on a couple of fish fingers with the kids. So I’m still stuck doing the dance of reward, threat and hyper aggression that it often takes to get them tucked up and compliant. Of course it’s not as bad as it used to be; it’s nothing like the physically and psychologically gruelling bedtime you get with an under 3 year old (as brilliantly described in point number 9 in this post by EehBahMum)  but it’s still way higher maintenance than I would like. 

They seems to have agreed some sort of covenant that allows them both adequate downtime but leaves me flustered and harassed. Big kid will sort himself out; bath, teeth, pyjamas and reading in bed like something from a Norman Rockwell painting - you can almost see his halo glowing. Meanwhile I am hauling small kid out of cupboards, from under beds and occasionally off of windowsills as she cackles and legs it away from the pyjama bottoms I am holding out for the umpteenth time. Finally, I wrestle her into bed and sing her current weird lullaby choice (it’s Tightrope by Stone Roses at the moment), I treasure her full hearted, arms-flung-wide joy-filled power-hug and off she pops, snuggled down and silent until oooh, at least one o’clock in the morning. 

Now it is big kid’s time to shine. I have to admire his inventiveness when it comes to creating phantom bedtime illnesses, none of the standard ‘my tummy hurts’ for this one. We have had ‘my ears are too hot.’ ‘My jaw clicks when I move it like this’ (to which the only answer is, of course, ‘Well don’t bloody move it like that then’) and my personal favourite ‘My knees feel weird.’ Once we have agreed an imaginary solution to his imaginary problem and settled him back in bed we shift to the next stage. The talking stage. Oh god, the talking. His talking in incessant these days. I look back on those toddler days, when I was working on developing his vocabulary, teaching him preposterous words like ‘assonance’ when he was 2 for my own amusement; I look back at that new mum and I want to slap her smiling chops and hiss ‘Aim low!’ because now he is a big boy of seven he knows ALL THE WORDS and he thinks it is necessary to use every single one of them every day. Especially at bedtime.  In an effort to get him to stop I once advised him that a really good way to fall asleep is to just hold your breath for a really really long time. Unfortunately he has also read all of the words and is far too clever to fall for a trick like that. I’ve kind of given up now and begrudgingly accept his autonomy these days. I let him have that extra chapter or two of his book and just hope he doesn’t come downstairs after I’ve started my second glass of wine. 

Then, at sporadic intervals, small kid decides to up the ante by sitting in her own bed at 3am and howling ‘Mum, Mummy, Muuummmeeee, I’m still in my bed. I am.’  Foghorns have nothing on small kid in the dark of night. Neither sweet reason nor barely contained fury seems to make a dent in my darling daughter’s nocturnal habits. The sense of jeopardy adds to the exhaustion - these nighttime adventures only happen about 40% of the time but there is no rhyme no reason to her sleep pattern. Each night when I go to bed I don’t know if I will be stumbling around like a drunk twenty-something in the early hours or opening my eyes to glorious sunshine and sanity seven hours later. Of course if she has to good sense to start this litany with ‘Dad, Daddy, Daaadeeee…’ then it’s a swift karate chop to my beloved’s throat and I am back off to dream land. Team work. 

During the day we can be found at the school gates muttering darkly about how there simply isn’t enough PE on the curriculum, in the hopes that the school might step in and tire them out for us. 

Suffice it to say my posts may be a little erratic for the foreseeable future but I’m hoping that this one is the start of something a little more coherent coming around the corner.