What’s wrong with sleep?

It’s dark. It’s cold. It’s the middle of January. Most people want to curl up and spend the rest of this month [and the next one] in bed. But not children. What is it about the dark and cold that makes them stay awake? How nice is it to snuggle down in a comfy bed under the blankets and make like a bear? Toddler daughter has decided never to sleep. It is driving us mad. We do stories, we do bath, we do failed attempts at wearing her out (eg McFly concerts with hippy daughter on guitar, bonkers daughter on keyboards – wearing a giant caterpillar wrapped around her bottom and a hairband for a top and nothing else – and toddler daughter as chief percussionist and bouncer – that girl can bounce for England)…nothing works. We put her in bed, she comes out. We try cuddling her up, her eyes stay relentlessly open and a smirk of triumph – she’s got mummy where she wants her – plays around her lips. It’s difficult as after she and the bonkers one are in bed is the only time I have with hippy daughter to talk about life, peace, the universe and Enid Blyton books (we’re going to an Enid Blyton event at the library next week so are reading a few Famous Five novels. They seem to have a picnic on every other page. Not good when you are trying to get children to bed as it continually reminds them that they are starving).

Toddler one tricked her way into the bathroom when I was having a bath the other day. I had padlocked myself in as usual and I thought the knocking was my partner. I opened the door. Big mistake. Due to my reluctance to leave a lovely warm bath, I had to have a long conversation about hair care. She has become a little too obsessed with nits. She keeps dunking her hair in water at every available opportunity, putting soap on top and then whipping the nit comb out. This is quite a remarkable turnaround since last time she had nits she hid the nit comb and even when scratching wildly denied point blank that she had them.

Perhaps her alertness is due to excitement – she’s potty training this week. A bit late, I know [guilt], but I keep starting and then some crisis comes up and I totally forget about it for a couple of days/months.

Anyway, she has much more energy than I have. The problem with having three children is that they outnumber you. People told me that before, but it is different living it every day of your life. While you are dealing with one dunking her hair in the bathroom, the other – bonkers one – is under the table cutting off her fringe with the kiddy scissors so that her hairband lies flat on her head and the other one is asking detailed questions about organic farming. This is generally about five minutes before I have to leave to drop them at school/nursery and go to work in the morning. Work is a veritable oasis of calm in comparison and I use it as recharging time ready for the afternoon onslaught.

I’m feeling a bit guilty this week as I’ve had to spend quite a bit of time visiting a sick relative in a hospice, which means less time for the children. I have tried to overcompensate by packing in activities eg swimming, exhausting at the best of times with bonkers daughter trying to jump into the water all the time and hippy daughter wanting me to watch her swim/semi-drown. I thought I could teach her to swim – we’ve started various courses [why are most of them only held on weekday afternoons which you can’t attend if you work?] but they always seem to be at dawn on Sundays so we never go for more than a few sessions. I thought it was all about holding the side, kicking your legs and learning the doggy paddle. But her legs keep dragging her down. I need to do a course in teaching swimming. This would be in addition to teach your child maths/literacy/etc, learning how to make nativity play costumes and sundry other skills. I would, of course, do these courses in the small hours instead of sleeping. And then I would squeeze in “parenting skills” at around 4.30am.

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