Sleepover strategy



We’ve had a weekend of sleepovers. In our room. Early on Saturday morning only son, who, it could be argued, was already on a bit of a sleepover having arrived in our bed circa 4am, whispered to me: “Can I have a sleepover in your room tonight, mum?” I murmured something along the lines of “I’ll think about it, but could you just try to close your eyes and give us another 45 minutes, please”. Only son, when he wakes up, is full of energy and enthusiasm for the day ahead – unlike his sisters. I could hear him moving around, but it was not until I opened my eyes fully that I realised what he had been doing. He had pulled out a mattress from under our bed and I could see his bedside lamp, Spiderman calendar and plant on the window sill. Only son was basically moving his room into ours. He arrived with his favourite books, his duvet, his pillow and his teddy bear.

Only son is quite a determined character and always has a good argument which backs up his plans, usually drawn from the Wonder Quest so backed by scientific evidence. I said I would make a decision later in the day. As it happened, though, I completely forgot that the mattress was there until I carried him upstairs later in the evening. He had fallen asleep cuddled up on the sofa. It seemed too much like hard work to move the entire bed back into his room at that point so I put him on the mattress. At least, I thought, he would not come into our bed at 4am.

At 4.02am I felt only son’s feet in the small of my back. Ah. By 7am he was wide awake and contemplating a day of activity. I heard him going in and out of his and daughter three’s room. Daughter three was suffering from migraines due to tiredness at the end of last week. I heard the tap go on in the bathroom. The sink needs to be unbunged. The likelihood of a flood was high. My partner went in. “I am just washing my teddy bear as he is very dirty,” I heard only son saying. A laudable project, but noisy. The bathroom is right next door to daughter two’s room and she wakes up at the slightest noise.

I decided that reason was my only tool. I explained to only son his parents’ deep need of sleep and how mood swings are linked to lack of sleep. It was in his interests to let us sleep, I explained in the nicest possible way. Could he not read a book quietly? Only son thought for a while and disappeared downstairs where daughter one sleeps. When I made it downstairs, only son presented me with a card. “Mandy, you are a star,” it said, all in joined up writing and with a picture of a star. “I’m so sorry that I woke you up very, very early. I love you very much,” it said. There was a big heart inside. “I’ve taped a snowflake to the back,” said only son, who has been made making snowflakes an art form of late. I think we are just going to have to accept defeat and go to bed a bit earlier at the weekend. We have been outplayed by a master.

*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of

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