Keeping Mum

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

Beddy-byes

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What time is the right time for an almost 3-year old to go to sleep?

My husband and I have struggled with this one for about a year. It started when he refused to wear his grow bag (a kind of cool sleeping bag). Then he climbed over the bars of the cot. Then he ran through the house at any time, day or night.

He was put, quick smart, into a single bed with the aforementioned Thomas the Tank Engine duvet and we were shocked at how quickly he seemed to take to it.

Of course, when I say "quick to take to it" I'm assuming the reader understands he would still get up about four times a night, relishing the opportunity to exercise his little legs around the clock.

Often I'd be awake by the time he made it to my bedside as he runs like a herd of elephants.

But occasionally I would suffer a mild cardial infarction when his giant head loomed over mine, completely unannounced, with only his heavy breathing to give away the soul behind the dark lumped shadow.

More than once he actually just slept on the floor next to my bed. Once I woke up to find him asleep on the floor of the hallway.

Amazingly, he'd always happily be put back to his own bed.

But along with this new-found midnight madness, husband and I have found his actual bedtime becoming later and later.

Like many stay-at-home parents, I need to carefully weigh up whether I want the peace in the afternoon, when he can easily go down for a two-and-a-half-hour sleep, only to have him up later, or skip the afternoon nap, ride out the inevitably ghastly witching hour, between 3 and 6pm, and get the early bedtime.

It really is quite hard. Kids who go to daycare come home tired and supposedly, I hear, sleep like logs. Some, like my daycare-attending niece, even have trouble getting up in the morning, a problem I would love to have but have yet to encounter.

In short, the 7 o'clock bedtime is out, at least for the time being.

When first this happened I almost cried because I was so keen to be done with my motherhood duties at this point (as Diane Levy once expressed, the mummy-shop should only open - sickness excepted of course - between 7am and 7pm!)

Now it's Mickey Mouse at 7pm, followed by bed for the baby, followed by Coronation Street.

Huh? I hear you ask. Yes, when first my son watched this programme with me he abided by the warning to keep quiet and he could stay up with mummy and watch her show, and then go to bed.

Now I'm trying to keep tabs on Violet's baby, Liam's marriage and Gail's face - which my husband says looks like a root vegetable - around my toddler's enormous bonce as it bounces, jumps, climbs and roars around me. Not easy!

And again, I know I know - when I was young I went to bed when my parents told me to, no questions asked.

I do force the issue at 8.30pm, despite occasional resistance. But as I don't smack and I can't exactly tie my child to the bed (as tempting as it sometimes sounds...), I have to put him to bed when he's tired.

Which means tiring him out... before I tire myself out, preferably!

- Dita De Boni

Pictured above: Organising bedtime can be a time-consuming process. Photo / Getty Images

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