Keeping Mum
Dita De Boni looks at the trials and tribulations of being a parent.

Musical beds


Changing locations is always a welcome relief for stay-at-home mums.

No matter how lovely or roomy your house, being there day after day with two screaming mee-mees can get a bit samey. Cleaning up the same old toys, vacuuming the same old floors, unpicking the same old ground-up crackers and cheese out of the same old wooden boards.

Christmas holidays provide many areas of welcome relief. A change of scene; a bit more babysitting help from assembled relatives; husband on call (when he's not sick of your constant requests for help and hiding out in an unseen corner of the house). Nicer food; more food, and alcohol (not too much of the latter, as I'm still feeding!)

Of course though, a holiday with children is a different proposition to the same minus your loin fruit... This was thrown into stark relief by the arrival, from the UK, of my brother in law and his lovely wife, a young, footloose and fancy-free couple home for the Christmas holidays.

Straight up let me say that these two were excellent with the kids. They amused them both no end, in the way that people full of energy and long sleep-ins can do. The difference between two exotic sounding, fresh faced and fun adults and saggy looking Mum and haggard looking Dad is a pretty vast one for the young; they want repetitive, physical buffoonery which takes quite a bit of effort. Admittedly mummy and daddy often trip over toys, scrape their knees on buggies and go for slides on discarded Wiggles CD cases, but it's never something that can be happily replayed.

We all trekked down south to stay with my husband's family before Christmas, and it was here that the real fun began. Fun because grandparents can also get in on the entertainment; "fun" because we have yet to find a sleeping arrangement that works for the whole family - and I'm sure many readers can quite understand the predicament.

Toddler has just started sleeping in a "big boy's bed. At home this has almost been completely successful because parts of the house can be blocked off and because he will come charging in like a herd of elephants to announce he's awake, and will be silently chauffeured back to his own bed happily - as long as he has Ernie, Bert, Britt the bear and Simmsie the bear to sleep with, of course.

On holiday the situation is somewhat different. Granny's lovingly replicated his Thomas the Tank Engine-themed bed (i.e. TTTE duvet) in her own home, and had gone to great efforts to make a fun and safe space for the kids to sleep. But in typical toddler style, the best simply wouldn't do.

First night, we put toddler to sleep and about half way through the night he leaves his room and is about to hurtle himself down a set of internal stairs. Luckily I woke up in the nick of time to avert disaster and returned him to his room. Miraculously I wake up again after about 40 minuets and find him about to do the very same thing. About 40 minutes later, he arrives at our bedside. I try and return him, but it doesn't work. He gets into bed with us.

As a toddler tends to sleep horizontally, I soon found myself with knees in my back and hands on my head and decided to go and sleep in Thomas myself. No sooner had I done so then I hear toddler charging in after me. Finally, Daddy has to squash his 6'2" frame into a child's single camp bed while toddler and I repair to the double bed (where I continue to be shoved to the margins anyhow).

This pattern has continued into the holiday, with Daddy and baby in one room and toddler and Mummy in the other. Romance be damned. Heck, adult sleep be damned (baby gets up during the night still. Toddler yells things out in his sleep, sweats through his head, and likes to nestle his every sharp bone junction into the small of my back).

It will be important to nip this new arrangement in the bud once we get home, for reasons both obvious and not so. On holiday, where everyone wakes up in a big sleepy jumble and the days drift by it's not really a problem, but when sleep becomes important again it's going to be chaos if everyone isn't back in their rightful place.

Hopefully we'll even be able to dislodge Daddy from his new slumbering place - under Thomas the Tank Engine!


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