Tag Archives: sleep

‘Let’s play sleeping’

Last night, both of my children slept for 12 blissful hours, I had an unbroken night and I now feel refreshed and rejuvenated.

Ha ha ha ha!

Forgive me – my mind momentarily wandered into the realm of fantasy.

Of course they didn’t. And of course I don’t.

Sleep is a fairly contentious subject when broached in the presence of a parent of small children. Because, chances are, they aren’t getting enough.

As a runner, I’m well aware the golden rule when upping your mileage is to ensure you’re getting enough quality shut-eye, in order to aid recovery – yet another reason why I now breathe a monumental sigh of relief that I decided to pull out of this spring’s marathon. Because let’s face it, I could do all the training I like, but these days, when it comes to gently resting my head on a pillow every night, closing my eyes and switching off – well, it’s kind of out of my hands, isn’t it? My nights are now very much dictated by the two little sleep thieves I have created.

When it comes to night-time, they’re not bad bad. They’re just… well, not exactly brilliant.

The current routine includes the three year old needing to get up for a wee at some point in the early hours, with an occasional nightmare that requires cuddles and gentle reassurance to help him drift back to sleep. Pretty standard stuff.

The baby? Well. She is developing a far more creative bedtime schedule. She sleeps in our bed with us – a deliberate choice that we made from the start and are sticking with for now. Having her close feels right (although I’m aware this isn’t for everyone) and ensures she sleeps peacefully (she’s a bit like a cute hot water bottle), waking only to feed several times before settling down once more.

This, at least, is the theory. And in all honesty, for the most part it’s how it goes.

Apart from those nights when, for no clear reason, she wakes when it is still blatantly the middle of the night and starts making sweet ‘wake up Mummy it’s morning’ gurgles (at least, they would be sweet if it wasn’t THREE O’CLOCK IN THE SODDING MORNING! GO BACK TO SLEEP!).

Apart from those nights when she misjudges a midnight kiss on the cheek and head butts me instead, resulting in a rude awakening and a fat lip for Mummy.

Apart from those nights when she simply has to sleep in the shape of a starfish, slap bang in the middle of the bed, leaving me and my husband clinging to the edges like something out of Cliffhanger.

Apart from those nights when she decides to creep slowly up the pillow and do her Darth Vader impression directly into my ear, scaring the sh*t out of me.

As you can see, co-sleeping has its pitfalls.

So it was last week when, after a particularly bad night (three night wakings from the boy; five night wakings from the baby) I felt – how shall I put this? – f*cking shattered. I’d valiantly battled through a morning of painting and Play-Doh, supported heavily by my sponsors, Caffeine and Sugar. But by mid-afternoon, I was fading.

‘What’s wrong Mummy,’ my son asked.

‘Mummy’s very tired,’ I replied, stifling a yawn.

‘Poor Mummy. I know! Let’s play sleeping!’

Now don’t get me wrong, I never once believed any actual sleep would take place during the course of this game, but the opportunity to shut my eyes – even for just 20 seconds – was too appealing to pass up.

‘Good idea,’ I replied. ‘I’ll sleep here [positioning myself horizontally on the sofa]. Night night.’ And I closed my eyes.

‘No Mummy! NOOOOO! Get OFF! This is MY bed! You need to sleep on the floor. Like bunk beds!’

Okaaaay, not ideal, but hell, if it still involved some kind of closed-eye situation, I’d take it.

I dutifully slunk onto the floor (leaving my pride on the sofa). The baby started hammering a xylophone with a piece of Duplo. Not perfect, admittedly, but once I closed my eyes it was a good enough approximation.

Silence. For five seconds.

‘And now Mummy,’ a little voice declared loudly, ‘I’ll jump on you.’

‘Oka… wait? What?’

I should be thankful, I suppose. He did warn me.

Sleep

She’ll sleep well anywhere. Apart from in bed.

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‘That’ girl

It was 15 minutes into my run when I saw her.

With her long legs and swinging ponytail and perfect running stride. She was wearing tiny racing shorts, for Christ’s sake. And she looked about 15 years younger than me.

I say ‘saw’ her. In actual fact, she leapt past me like a sodding gazelle and was then off, into the distance.

I couldn’t see her for very long.

There I was with my extra stone of baby weight, wondering how attempting to run 5K had ever become so bloody hard. Wearing black capris, even though it was boiling (there’s no way I’m exposing the dog walkers to my legs just yet). And minus the swinging ponytail, which I recently swapped for a pixie cut that is a touch more Shoreditch than suburbs on a good day (I momentarily forgot I was a mother of two at the salon) and a touch more slept-in-a-ditch than Shoreditch on a bad day. It’s 50/50.

Seeing her was almost enough to stop me in my tracks and make me wonder why the hell I was bothering.

Almost.

Because then I decided that, actually, she really didn’t look like she had two children to care for round the clock. Which means she hasn’t pushed the best part of half a stone of human being out of her vagina four short months ago. And her body hasn’t been stretched and softened by pregnancy. And her whole being isn’t weighed down by the very physical demands of caring for two little ones.

On top of that, she won’t have been up in the night feeding a baby or trying to find Nemo. Not a bizarre Pixar-related euphemism, I promise. I mean I have literally had to try to find Nemo, the cuddly clown fish, who has got lost down the side of my son’s bed no fewer than three times this week. [Nemo, hear this: if I am called in at 3am one more time to locate you, I am going to stop thinking you are a cute little toy and start thinking that you are, in fact, a bit of a dick.]

Nemo

Nemo. My nemesis.

So, I might be ‘curvier’ than I was pre-children. I might be more tired. I might be softer and slower, and I might struggle to make it up that final hill.

But deep down, I am stronger.

And I won’t be stopped in my tracks.

Once I picked up the pace again, I realised something. You know what? It really didn’t matter whether ‘that’ girl had children or not. Whether she really was 15 years younger than me, or whether she has simply inherited good genes. In fact, if she is also a tired mother and is still managing to bang out a training run that looked like it could have bagged her a sub 45-minute 10K, well done to her!

Seeing her reminded me that running is an amazingly personal endeavour, with very personal goals and very personal achievements. Unless you are an elite athlete, it really isn’t about racing other people. It is not about comparison. Not for me, anyway. Everyone is running off their own struggles; their own stresses and strains. Everyone is running towards their own personal best.

Some might be a bit speedier or a bit slimmer than others, but at the end of the day, we’re all runners.

If I ever see ‘that’ girl again, I’ll even give her a smile and cheer her on her speedy way.

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