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Photo by jonlk


Sometimes, in quieter moments, I dream of the perfect Sunday morning. I’m lying in a kingsize bed with perfectly pressed white linen sheets and plump feather pillows, in a pristine bedroom that’s strangely free of socks on the floor and crumpled clothes heaped on the ‘chairdrobe’.

As I stir from a blissful, uninterrupted nine hours of sleep, a soundtrack of gentle jazz-lite – possibly John Coltrane, possibly Miles Davis, possibly Ella Fitzgerald – slowly wafts me into the land of the living. Outside in the street, rather than the usual irritating cars revving and children screaming, I faintly hear the lyrical song of the blackbird. I look at the clock: it’s half-past nine! The following items have miraculously appeared at the foot of the bed: a cafetiere of piping hot coffee, a jug of warm milk, a glass of orange juice, a warm croissant and the full complement of Sunday papers, from high- to lowbrow…

While non-parents sometimes get the impression that, once you go forth and procreate, you never ever get a decent’s night sleep again – not entirely true for everybody, thank the lord – it is true that proper, restorative lie-ins, for the majority of us, are rarer than hen’s teeth.

As we grow up into adults, most of us eventually fall into either ‘owl’ or ‘lark’ camps. But babies, toddlers and young children are all, by some cruel twist of nature, pretty much down to a T, programmed to be larks. Once the clock strikes 6am (or, sadly, earlier in many unfortunate cases) most of them spring into life, raring to go and fizzing with energy like Duracell bunnies on speed. They need to have nappies changed, to be given bottles, to be fed, and dressed, and entertained, and all before the sun is even up. They don’t care that you’re mildly hungover from your night in with the latest episode of Glee and a cheap bottle of Pino Grigio. They don’t care that all you really want out of life at 6.15am is another blissful 15 minutes of slumber. They will shout and scream at the top of their lungs, so even your deepest sleep and most vivid dreams are penetrated. They will climb into your bed, pull off the covers and thrust a hardboard copy of the Gruffalo into your grey sleep-starved face, and beg to be read to before you have even gained consciousness. Honestly if the armed forces ever need to come up with a failsafe torture device for known terrorists, I suggest they stick them in a room with a toddler first thing every morning for the next six months or so.

After a lifetime as an owl, I have sadly come to the conclusion that the only way to create the illusion that you are, in fact, having a lie-in, rather than waking up at the same time as fishermen, is to go to bed before the 10 o’clock news comes on, and possibly before the 9pm ‘serious drama’ slot. But in the meantime, I can carry on dreaming…

earplugs

You’ve seen them. Spilling out of drawers, gathering dust on the night table and rolling into the fluff under the bed to be discovered on the twice-yearly under-bed hoover. There’s a rare mother without them. Because earplugs come into their own when you have babies. Whether it’s psychological or physiological, your hearing definitely becomes supercharged when becoming a mother. And earplugs are the only salvation when it comes to grabbing some shuteye, day or night.

At the start you wake like you’ve been jabbed at with a needle at what transpires is simply your newborn’s sleepy snuffle, snork and shuffle. “Ohmigodisshedying?” screams your semi-conscious. And as you view the calm, butter-wouldn’t-melt face of your baby in the cot next to your bed and your heart slowly beats back to normal, you try your best to get back to sleep (it’s 4am dammit) before the 5am wake-up call. Worse – when your partner puts the TV volume up to around 10 (40 being max) you hurriedly bring it down (to his rolled eyes and “you’re insane!”) to a barely audible 3. To your heightened sense of hearing, the television seems impossibly loud and either in danger of waking the baby or masking their cries.

But then, later, as your baby grows and that incessant sense of imminent danger (includes cot death, but also all sorts of afflictions you imagine will surely happen to your baby) subsides, you still find yourself waking every time they as much as sniff in their sleep. And, boy, do these creatures make noise at night! It was at this point I turned to my trusty earplug friends. Oh joy of joys. Smooth, interrupted sleep (relatively speaking). And now, when she wakes early and perhaps – if I’m very lucky – plays with her toys in her bedroom for half an hour or so before jumping on my head, those earplugs have bought me an extra half-hour of sleep I would only have been able to (day)dream about otherwise.

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This blog is currently dedicated to stuff new mummies like. As opposed to stuff mummies of teenagers like. That's because we don't have teenagers yet. Give us a few years though. We're told it goes pretty quickly...

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