Getting back in the sleep routine
There is a piece of reality TV about parenting that has haunted me ever since I saw it last summer.
I can't remember what the programme was called but it placed a hidden camera in a primary school and filmed one or two pupils literally nodding off during lessons and when they were awake, they struggled to concentrate on what they should have been learning.
Later the footage was shown to their parents who were shocked to find that this is how their kids behaved in class after being allowed to stay up all hours watching TV and playing computer games.
How I tsked and rolled my eyes, yet a part of me deep down knew that this could well be my own children if we ever let things slip.
And over the Christmas holidays, of course, we let things slip. Late nights on Mario Kart, long lie-ins to compensate.
So last night being the night before their first day back at school should have been a time to get them into bed early ready for a 7.30 wake-up call in the morning. I even smiled at the cunning behind the parents who confessed on Simon Mayo's show that they'd told their kids that if they didn't go to bed on time then Santa would come back and take some of their toys away. It had worked and I was half tempted to try that one myself.
Except we had already arranged to meet friends and their children of similar age for a New Year drink in the pub at 6pm. Madness in a way, but a nice distraction from the thought of getting back into the same old routine. We wouldn't be out for too long and it'd tire the kids out.
Anyway it was gone 9pm when we finally got home. Ouch. Worse, we hadn't even fed them properly and they probably ended up going to sleep later than if we'd have let them stay at home on Mario Kart.
If it had been a reality show, the viewers would have all tsked at us. Certainly there was the odd look of surprise in the pub as the kids ran to and from the playroom.
But then I remember past nights before first days back at school. The kids always struggle to get to sleep early, as do I sometimes when I am due back at work the next day after a holiday. In a way, it was better to tire them out like that and have them go to sleep straight away when they did finally get to bed.
Sure, it was an effort to get them up and ready this morning, but I did it and they were in school by the time the bell went. Yes, they were a little droopy eyed, but I daresay the buzz of seeing their friends again will keep them going. They'll be shattered come the early evening and will start going to bed again at a sensible hour.
Ditto with doing the homework that was optimistically left for them to do over the holiday, as I discovered at breakfast time upon opening their book bags for the first time since mid-December.
It's easy to feel guilty for being a bad parent, but hey it was Christmas and they're only little kids. They'll soon fall back into a more acceptable daily lifestyle.
Even so I just hope there are no hidden cameras in school today and the tsks I hear at pick-up time will all be in my head.