I’m fully settled into my new lifestyle. The more settled I’ve become, the more unrealistic I feel like any other way of living would be.I can’t figure out how parents with young children can possibly work full-time jobs and see their kids too. Regular work just isn’t set-up to allow these kinds of routines. It’s unfair and especially so when your commute forces you to travel for over an hour to get back home each day.
For the first year and a couple of months of my eldest’s life, he had to put up with the fact that I didn’t get home until 6:30pm. The only way to change this was by leaving dead on 5pm, rushing to the Tube to try to catch the ‘early’ train, which would have had to have been running late by 2 minutes for me to make it. Otherwise, I had to get on the 17:42 from Charing Cross to get home.
For the first nine months or so, this didn’t really matter all that much. We didn’t need a strict routine, because he was leading it. He might settle down for the night at 8pm. He might settle down at 11pm. It’s whatever. Whatever he said would happen, because that’s how those infants roll.But as we started to have some control (and could just drop him in his cot and leave the room) we needed exact times for everything.
That preciseness is what made things difficult. We settled on a routine that was really selfish. I missed him while I was at work, and I at least wanted to spend an hour with him. In the end, that was literally all I had. I needed to be fed by 7pm, so he would be in the bath 5 minutes later (after he finished an on-demand episode of In the Night Garden), and would be in his cot by 7:30pm. (It’s tragic now I look back how little time I had with him in the week).
Between 10 months and 13 months, that child would not settle at night. He was over tired by the time he went to bed, so made a habit of waking many times through the night (sometimes convincing us to let him share the bed with us). He would wake up between 5am and 6am, and we would have to deal with it. The mad sleep days lasted four whole months and we distinctly remember there were only two nights when he managed to see the whole night through drama-free.
My last month in London job-free, so I didn’t have the restrictions I once did. I wasn’t commuting. I wasn’t going near a train. I was barely even leaving the house. It was time to experiment. We decided to bring Cameo’s bedtime waaay forward. Bath time was 6pm, his final milk of the day was at 6:20pm and he was asleep within 10 minutes, he would wake at 7am. And it stayed that way.
There were a couple of shaky nights along the way (as there’s always meant to be) but we learned exactly what we need to do the second time around. These kids need to go to bed when they’re tired, not after they’ve been fighting it. Again, it makes me wonder how anyone that works a full day job makes bedtimes work for their kids. You’re all bosses for figuring it out.