Anyone who knows me knows that Arthur is a crap sleeper. When he was tiny, far too early for sleeping more than a couple of hours at a stretch, people would (ludicrously) ask if he was a “good sleeper”. At first I would dissemble, but when he turned about nine months I gave up and just barked “No.” He isn’t, he never has been and he might never be, and the whole bloody thing is made worse by the fact we’ve just had to move him into his “Big Boy Bed”, a full-sized IKEA single since we’re too cheap to fork out for an adorable toddler bed. I swear he could vault out of that travel cot with the grace and ease of an Olympian pole-vaulter who nails it every time.
So, why am I a Bad Mum here? Oh boy, I do everything wrong. I never “sleep-trained” him. Well, I tried, but my understanding is that when you leave them to cry they’re supposed to slowly get less cross and eventually pass out. Not so our Arthur, who successfully ramps up to nuclear. The longest, absolute longest we managed was about forty minutes, by which point both of us were in tears at how cruel we’d been to our beloved only son, only to get him out of the cot and for his mood to change immediately to one of cooing adorable loveliness. It was the only time we tried it with any level of seriousness.
If bedtime isn’t working out then I have two excellent strategies which I’m sure all the books advocate in chapter one. They are:
a) Push him in the buggy, singing whatever songs he requests (last night was the theme tune to Thomas And Friends, on repeat. I had the lyrics open on my tablet.)
b) Give up and bring him downstairs.
I still breastfeed Arthur. This is a controversial topic; I’d decided at eighteen months I would start to cut down when he turned two, but honestly he shows no sign of ever wanting to stop at 22 months and shows considerable distress when I try to offer something else instead. To think I used to imagine I’d just give him a rusk at six months and that would be it. LOL. Anyway, I breastfeed him to sleep, or as near as possible, every night. I know, I’m a monster. But it works. Occasionally.
The whole thing is rarely improved by trips away, which we’ve done frequently since Arthur was born. We have a large, loving family who are mostly based in Lancashire and who we visit regularly, close family in London and we do like to go on holiday from time to time. I think after our recent sojourn to Norfolk where Arthur’s midnight antics reached fever pitch we’ll be staying put for a while, especially since it seems to have put in motion another flipping sleep regression.
Definitely the “worst” thing we do is the telly in bed thing. A normal night now is Artoo going to sleep somewhere between seven and eight and waking up 2-3 times for a feed. However, calming my whirling dervish down before bed is almost impossible without the soothing, lilting tones of Duggee and Peppa. Hey, we read books too. Usually. And on those rare, but still happening occasions when he just won’t bloody go to sleep, or when he wakes up in the middle of the night for a party, yes yes, we do stick the telly on so we can doze while he rots his brain/improves his vocabulary.
Whatever gets you through the night.