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Posts Tagged ‘good night sleep’

Every evening, after our young masters have retired to their chambers, my husband and I settle down in front of the TV with a glass of wine to enjoy those precious remains of the day together. 

Just the other night, we decided to finally start watching the box set of UK 1990s show “Cracker” that had been given to us. The first thing that struck me was how utterly dated the mid-90s already look – I mean, hello! That was when I was supposedly at my coolest and it turns out I was actually no cooler than Fonzie on waterskis.

The second thing that struck me was that, after 20 minutes, I still had no idea what the hell was going on. I started thinking “Wow, those Granada scriptwriters in the 90s really knew how to challenge an audience”. There was no drawn-out spoon-feeding exposition for this show – no way! Instead you were, like, totally slam-dunked straight into the world of Cracker…

And then, after just one too many exchanges between characters referring to events such as so-and-so’s suicide and the affair with such-and-such, I turn to my husband say, “Are you sure this is the start of the series?”

And it was at this point that my husband admitted that the disks weren’t numbered so he had just randomly selected an episode to start off with.

I picked up the box and there, on the back, as clear as a well-ordered list, was a list of the episode titles, helpfully organised in chronological order. And I realised my dear husband had a little less helpfully launched us into the series with Episode 9 (of 10), which was a little like starting a joke with the punchline. 

And so, both slightly peeved (one of us a little more than the other), we decided to spend the rest of those precious remains of the day catching up on some sleep. 

However, my husband’s attempts earlier that day to create “somewhere comfortable to sit” in our room by installing a chair on my side of the bed, meant that he had completely destroyed all chances of finding “somewhere comfortable to sleep”. Everything that had been carefully hidden down that side of the room had been, with equal care, lifted up and dumped on our bed.

And so, too tired and disheartened to sort the situation out, we decided that the best thing was for both of us to sleep on the fold-out bed in the kids’ room under the glare of the daylight-nightlight. Which was fine until the usual game of Musical Beds started shortly after midnight, when Tiddles McGee magically appeared between us and then The Pixie also threw herself into the mix around 2AM. At which point my husband promptly relocated himself to the pink princess bed, leaving me wedged between the two children. 

In our household, The Pixie and TIddles are both classified as “Snugglers”, who have to have as much of their body pressed against you as possible, while the rest of us are what I like to call “Separate Sleepers”. I looked wistfully over at Mr Justice and his Separate Sleeping Ways and was wishing that I was sharing a bed with him, until he suddenly sat bolt upright and laughed like a little mentalist in his sleep and I instantly recalled with great clarity all those times he’d punched me in the face when we’d had to share a bed. 

And then to top things off – oh joy of joys – my husband started snoring loudly because, now that he was no longer under my direct jurisdiction, he was sleeping on his back. And trapped as the Meat in the Snuggle Sandwich as I was, I was completely unable to kick him back onto his side. 

So there I was, lying in the dark, thinking my night couldn’t get any worse except, perhaps, if someone started throwing up, when I suddenly felt that all-too-familiar sensation of – how shall I put this –  the “Red Tide” coming in. And I was forced to somehow get myself out of the bed and to the toilet as quickly as possible A) without waking the Snugglers and B) before I created a Japanese Flag situation. Without giving away any secrets, let’s just say that I did it and it certainly made that Catherine Zeta-Jones scene from Entrapment look a complete and utter doddle – although, I was considerably less cat-like than CZJ was, it must be said. 

But the strangest thing of all happened when I returned to my Meat position a few minutes later. I found myself lying there and listening to the surround-sound breathing of my precious family for a long, long time. And I thought to myself that, even if I wasn’t able to get back to sleep at all, I couldn’t think of another place on this planet that I’d rather spend the remains of that night. And then finally, sleep came.

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This Weekend Edition of the NDM explores different strategies that can be employed in the pursuit of that most elusive of delicacies: The Good Night’s Sleep. All of these strategies have been used in our household at some point or another, with varying degrees of success – if, that is, you consider pretty much no success at all to be a degree of success, which I do, because it’s the Little Things you cling to when you’ve had as little sleep as I have the past six years. So here goes:

Comforters
Comforters present any parent with an interesting conundrum – whether they be a stuffed Rottweiler (such as Mr Justice’s – and it’s a soft toy, not a taxidermy project, in case you were wondering) or a manky old scrap of grey cloth (such as The Pixie’s – see “The Duck One” for more information).

When they are clear and present, comforters act as gentle ushers to the land of Nod. However, when they are Missing In Action, possibly left behind in the park or – worse still – lost somewhere in the House That Ate Paris, they are the agents of Satan Himself.

The Pixie, in particular, is prone to unprecedented hysterics when Duck One has gone walkabout at bedtime. And while she might fall asleep while you’re ostensibly “still looking for it” (or rather, having a stiff drink in the loungeroom), she will wake throughout the night – as if she had instantly thawed out after being cryogenically frozen mid-sentence – and carry on exactly where she left off. 

And as for those delightful Gastro nights when the comforter is usually the first casualty of war… frankly, I think it way easier to withdraw Australian troops from Afghanistan than it is to wrench that beloved vomit-soaked object from an already-ailing child’s hands. Which is why I would recommend anyone considering the introduction of a comforter to their child to think very carefully about the material it is made of – something fashioned out of easy-to-wipe-down plastic would be practical, or better yet, try looking at some type of hard plastic receptacle that could double up as a Sick Bucket. 

My final word on the subject of comforters is this: don’t make the mistake I made in effectively becoming Tiddles McGee’s comforter. I am currently working on a plan to transfer some of his abundant Mummy-Love to a stuffed monkey. Those who have met me in person might think that an easy enough task but so far he seems to be able to tell the difference. I’ll let you know how I go with it. 

Night Horrors
If your child is prone to waking up at night with the night horrors, my advice is to get a night-light. There are all sorts available on the market – hell, you can even get talking night-lights if you want (you’d hope it would say useful stuff like “Get back into bed Right This Very Minute or So Help Us All” or even just “I’m getting your father”). However you could just do what we do which is to use a regular lamp with one of those energy-saving light globes that starts off shedding less light than a match when you first turn it on and then ends up, a few hours later, radiating more light than the sun. I don’t know if you’ve had a look at your exhaustion-ravaged face in broad daylight recently but let me tell you now, I’ve looked at mine and it’s not a pretty sight. So when my children wake screaming in the night and see my face before them,  they have naturally reassessed the monsters their nightmares are made of and chosen sleep as the far-less-scary option. 

Rocking/Patting/Smacking Your Child to sleep
Violence is not the answer. It might feel like it at the time, but it’s just not. Just walk away. Walk away and take it out on the cat instead. In any case, even with the gentlest of patting and rocking, we all know that there’s nothing to be gained from this in the long term, especially when – once the job’s been done – you have to slowly crawl out of the child’s bedroom like a whipped cur. Geez, you might be desperate for sleep and all, but try have a little self-respect, will you.

Co-sleeping
Also known as the win-lose situation. The win? It is a guaranteed way to get your child to sleep through. The lose? Don’t count on getting any sleep yourself, particularly if you’re like me and pre-disposed to waking up upon hearing even your child’s nostrils flare from four rooms away, let alone when it is amplified from within the same bed. 

Every night I end up sleeping with Tiddles on the fold-out couch in the kids’ room – and every morning, I optimistically pack the bed away – not so much to tidy the room up (that would be completely out of character) but because I live in hope that the next night will be different and I might get to spend the whole night in the marital bed away from the relentless glare of the “day-light-night-light” and having Tiddles try to thrust his little toe up my nostril every few hours. This is when my mantra of “It’s just a phase and this, too, will pass” really comes into its own – if, that is, you define “coming into its own” as pretty much “not getting you anywhere at all particularly fast or otherwise”. 

Controlled Crying
For heavens’ sake, pull yourself together. If you really must sob through sheer exhaustion and the overwhelming feeling  that you just can’t go on, try exercise some self-control and cry into a pillow in a room far away from the children. They’re like dogs in that way – if they even get even the slightest whiff of distress on your part, then they’ll make you their bitch forever. 

Medication
If all else fails, three quarters of a bottle of gin should do the job – although I hasten to add I’m advocating medicating the parents here, and not the children. Unless, of course, you’re on board a long haul flight – in which case, Phenergan away. But remember you run the risk with Phenergan that it might send your kid the Other Way and so this is definitely a case of Try This At Home First before you find yourself trapped for 14 hours at 39000 feet with a free-basing toddler.

But back to the gin: chug it down – use a funnel if you have to – and you’ll be surprised what you’ll be able to sleep through. Of course you might not even stir when Social Services come to take your children away – and some could argue that this almost certain eventuality – plus the ensuing hangover – might somewhat detract from the overall benefits of a good night’s sleep. But listen, you can’t have it both ways, okay? Sheesh! 

 

There’s a saying – at least in our household there is – that “Sleep is for the weak”. But then, aren’t the weak going to inherit the earth (or at least the meek, a term that not only rhymes with the weak, but also implies an inherent weakness) and that’s hardly fair because they’re all so well-rested and that’s prize enough in my books. But then again, to be quite honest, I’m hardly in a state to inherit the earth right now: capital gains tax aside, I’m just too damn tired. Ask me again in the morning…

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