I was thinking this morning that I tend to blather on about things that annoy me or that I feel should be improved, so toyed with the idea about writing about my perfect life and how I get most things right. A: That is a total lie, my life is as far from perfect as you can get. B: I have got so many things wrong during my twenty four years of parenting (and will continue to do so I’m sure) that I have absolutely no authority to even hint at how great I am. C: It would be boring, self congratulatory and unreadable.
With that off my chest and, so you realise I’m not just a miserable embittered mother worn down by one teen too many I would like to talk about bed time.
I hate bed time, not the actual them being asleep bit, the time when you get to sit with a glass of wine and catch up with all the stuff you’ve recorded on the tivo box but haven’t had a chance to watch yet. No that’s the good part. I’m talking about the actual getting them to sleep.
I know this is a real problem not just a Wilkinson phenomenon because even Jo Frost AKA super nanny has problems putting her charges to bed, and she should know how to do it cos shes on the telly. All that “leave them to scream for five minutes then put them back in bed calmly” and repeat stuff is exhausting to watch let alone do. The parents are at their wits end, “its been like this for as long as we can remember” they say while holding down a hysterical Ruby who hasn’t had a good nights sleep for seven years. Even Jo (bless her) must get fed up with the whole up and down like a yo yo thing. I bet if cameras weren’t there she would say “forget it, just come down here on the sofa with us and watch bake off, I’m knackered been at work all day and the last thing I need is to spend the next four hours running up and down the stairs after you”. But that would ruin the show and to be fair after four days of intensive training she does mostly fix the problem. Even if the parents never speak to each other again as Jo manages to throw a spanner in the marriage works. Least the kids will be asleep though so mum and dad will have time to argue (quietly).
I have friends who are great at getting their children to sleep ,they make it look effortless and without so much as a thought towards any nanny super or otherwise.Those parents are the kind I want to be, the sort I aspire too. Perhaps they should blog!
I have had a couple of children now 17 and 23 who were dreams, slept perfectly from birth, fed once during the night and after a quick burp were off in the land of nod again before I could say “I’m such a smug parent”. Sadly the other eleven all felt that going to bed was akin to being told they could never have chocolate again. In short terrible.
When the 24 year old was a baby (remember she was our first) the husband used to drive her for miles every night to get her to sleep, for her to wake up the second he pulled up on the drive way then off he would go again. There were some nights I might not see him at all, he was that busy travelling the length and breadth of the country trying to get a six month old to sleep. Jo Frost would not approve, but she wasn’t an option then. This was the nineties don’t forget. My only hope was Mary Poppins.
I do try to make bed time a success. We eat, we talk about our day (which takes flippin ages with so many kids) we do homework have a bath, a milky drink, calm lighting, no television in their rooms, I’ve even asked the council to turn off the street lamps after seven thirty but still they are programmed not to go to bed.
The second the lights are turned off and you shut the bedroom door a secret force takes them over which then requires them coming downstairs to tell you about seven different tales of things going on in their bedrooms. Honestly if they aren’t reporters when they grow up all this groundwork will be wasted. Their attention to detail is amazing, they have worked out that the longer the story the longer the time out of bed. Me and the husband have a second by second commentary of whats going on upstairs, and its not sleeping I can tell you.
The minute my bottom hits the sofa cushion and I reach for the remote you hear “Muuuuuum” followed by thundering down the stairs and them bursting into the sitting room screaming “Hes going to hit me” cue the 6 year old holding a soft teddy menacingly high above his head ready to launch it at the eight year old. Grabbing the teddy off one while telling the other to “stop being hysterical and to both go back to bed” you just know that tonight’s going to be another long one. Arguments abated its the “We need a drink” routine next, this consists of all five youngest boys coming down one after another in age order because they are suddenly desperate for a drink. Obviously after the drink they then need the loo, which means they have to wash their hands, this adds approx another eight minutes of unofficial staying up time. I have to hand it to them they are very good, their are times I actually believe they are thirsty. If reporting goes out the window they will make damn fine actors.
Your just about to let your guard down and pop the prosecco when one of them remembers they haven’t been tested on their times tables and urgently need them doing now, then theirs the one who forgot to do their spellings, or the one who wants to recite poetry in Latin, and my personal favorite the old “I need to make a life sized model of Buckingham Palace out of papier mache by tomorrow morning” chestnut. Why is it my children reach new academic heights after half past seven. What is the sudden interest in the square root of seventy nine? Why do they ask you how your day went or want to discuss the fantastic properties of Ayrs Rock. Try getting them to make a model during office hours and you will have a battle on your hands I can tell you.
After the twentieth request for a cover to be straightened or another report of “hes being mean to me” or another sudden onslaught of dehydration (remember the ensuing loo cenario) it becomes slightly draining and “JUST GO TO BED” what you end up shouting. Instantly I feel guilty especially when they do the “you don’t love us” routine. There is nothing worse that having parenting guilt before bed.
Its like a well rehearsed pyjama drama that we go through every night, I’ve realised I’m not Jo Frost, I am no super mummy let alone a super nanny and, I suppose I should be glad that at least two of them proved I’m not a total failure in the sleep department.
Finally all seems quiet and your just about to let your guard down when “Mum I’ve got cramp” a little voice shouts from the stairs. I give up (wheres Jo when you need her) Its a big sofa, sod it lets watch bake off.