Nobody expects to have much me time after having a baby. We know the drill; they eat, sleep and feed and we work the other bits of our lives around them.
As they grow, some kids are little sleepy angels giving you eleven or twelve glorious hours of calm each night, seven of which you might spend sleeping and the others divided up into chores/hobbies/watching the telly/faffing on Facebook/wine.
Others kids go to bed late but when they’re there you don’t see them til a Very Reasonable hour the next morning (that’s anything after 730 in my book).
Some people have a family bed and spend many years of their lives contentedly sharing the bed with their kids. And I can see why you would – why fight unsettledness when you can just accept how things are going to go and use a solution that works for your family?
But what happens when the status quo is interrupted? My slightly wild children used to be of the ‘when they’re gone they’re gone’ variety (I’ve made them sound like a Harvey Norman sale now) and after stories, I would sink contentedly into the late evening safe in the knowledge I had time to collect my thoughts and get through my workload before the next day dawned.
The number of night time interactions – shall we call them? – has increased dramatically in our house in the last few months. It’s come to a point where we seem to spend all evening in and out of their room, and when we retire ourselves, playing musical beds between our own king size model and their bunks.
I can be standing in the kitchen, pitta in hand or pulling the ‘sticks’ off grapes prepping the school lunches when a six year old thumps down the stairs and appears wild eyed at my side. “Where were you?” he’ll ask accusingly, as if I’d been off painting the town red while he dozes, rather than pairing his socks. No explanations will do so I return him to bed and sit on the stairs, answering his stalling-tactic questions like an eejit til he nods off again. Usually these take the form of him requiring an explanation as to why he ever has to go to after school care and why can Daddy not work from home the whole time and why does Mama have to go to work at all.
That’s the easier version. Often the three year old has a hair trigger reaction to the creak of his brother’s footstep on a bunk ladder. Then he’s up too and he is the least reasonable person I know. Explaining to him that I have stuff to do doesn’t cut it against his repeated imploring “Lie down wiv me“. There I am squished in a bottom bunk at 11pm with my makeup still on, my teeth not brushed, a wash waiting to be hung out and my own bed calling me.
It came to a head last night. I had hair dye in. Twenty five minutes into the thirty minute development time he arrived. I was making overnight oats. I dropped everything to get him back to bed hoping my hair wouldn’t turn green in the process. I sat on a tiny chair in their bedroom. I moved to the stairs. I told him I was going now. I went back downstairs. He came after me wailing where was Daddy despite the fact Daddy goes out rockin’ a couple of times a week (rehearsing with whatever bands he’s currently in) and has done all of the child’s little life.
“Text him and tell him to come home”.
“I’m a bit worried about dada”
“I want my daddy” Cheers, kid.
He stood in the bathroom while I had my late night shower. He stood right at the end of the bath, staring at the dark dye streaming down out of my hair. He asked how long I would be showering for. And he asked again. He told me it had been longer than the five minutes I had said. He wouldn’t sit down, on the loo, on the bathmat, anywhere. I brought him up to bed again afterwards, my hair dripping everywhere. Five minutes later he was asleep.
The front door opened. Two minutes later he was on the sofa watching rugby highlights with his Daddy.
This too shall pass…