The Sleep Series – Part two. The Bermuda Triangle

I am committed to writing positive sleep stories, and I will get there, but first I need to write out the Bermuda triangle of bad bed times we experienced this week – and then I will get to something positive!

Just now I am nostalgic for good bedtimes. It has been a bad week for sleep in our house. Or perhaps I should say it has been a bad week for bed times. Because we always look for explanations when things go off the rails here are the changes to our routine from which I understand the tri-parte badness to have come.

ONE: The clocks have changed – this one needs no explanation – although I admit to having gone into this change with unwarranted bravado – my husband was reading something online about managing the change and I scoffed a little and said something about winging it.

TWO: We got Rafa a new bed. The single bed Rafa sleeps in has been broken for quite awhile. Recently it became a bit more broken and we finally acknowledged that it needed to go. A skinny three year old can cope pretty well on a broken bed. But when his father or I take a shift on the single bed the brokenness becomes problematic. The only bit of the broken bed that seemed salvageable was the drawers underneath. Retaining this storage space seemed invaluable, so we looked for a bed that had the same height. Then I had a brain wave. Perhaps rather than a single bed we should get a double? Just a small double that could run wall to wall under the window? Wouldn’t that make all our bed swapping more endurable? The room the boys share is small, but we measured it out and thought it could work. In the end we found a bed second hand from the British Heart Foundation. On Sunday my husband set about pulling the broken bed apart and putting up the new one.

These things always take longer than you think they will, but eventually Jon got the new bed almost put together – then we realised the problem. Yes the bed could theoretically run wall to wall – but in order to get the very long screws in it needed to be constructed the other way around, and then moved into place. At this point my very spatially aware friend B was over with her son. While the kids ate a snack the three adults stood in the bedroom and pondered the bed problem. (This is known as a social occasion when you are a parent) B visualised and Jon and I moved the bed. In theory it should have fitted. In reality it did not. We had a lovely new bed. But it took up half the room. The remaining space somehow had to accommodate a chest of drawers, a book case and Finn’s cot.

B departed while we pondered. The good news was the drawers fitted under the bed. The bad news was Finn’s bed was not going to fit – so we decided he could share the big new bed with his brother.

So that’s the first two Sunday two changes/ challenges- clocks changing and first night with two boys in the new bed.

THREE: ‘Baby’. We have a baby staying with us. A lovely eight month old girl. Finn spends long periods of time entertaining her, she is a happy, contented girl – who has a very different sleep patterns to my sons. This baby and her mum and dad are staying with us for nine days having rented our spare room on airbnb, and although the house is full we are all managing well- in part because we use the communal parts of the house at different times. Except that just at the time when the boys are settling down for the evening the baby is having her dinner in the next room. ‘Baby’ Finn cries suddenly all alert and up he jumps to go and entertain her some more.

Rafa playing at bedtime.
Rafa pretending to be asleep.


It has been a bad week of bedtimes. Long drawn out. Grumpy mummy who is all to aware of her evenings being snatched away as the kids wriggle, fidget, need one more drink of water, one more visit to the toilet (Rafa) one more nappy change (Finn) one more lap around the house, one more chat to the baby, one more look out the window to check if it is morning yet. Finn has not settled down before eight all week – and I deem six pm to be bedtime.
Here is the bit I am nostalgic for. We are a snuggle to sleep family. When there are two adults home we divide the boys up and each lie down to settle the boys. There are certain routines that play out as we move towards sleep, certain fidgets of the day that need to be gotten out, but normally as these routines play out the boys move towards sleep. I have found that time, in bed beside Rafa or Finn when they slowly wind down can be amazingly productive to me. Sometimes (like this week the extended bed times are torture) but on a good night that forced quiet time, when I am concentrating on quieting my body and my breath so that the boys will do likewise, is when my thoughts collect for the day. Just like going for a run, when the busyness subsides and ideas that have been brewing pop into being. In the intro to You Won’t Remember This I wrote about how the whole idea to the book came about during that quiet time. Sometimes it’s not artistic, sometimes it is just practical day to day stuff that can get lost in the chaos of the day. I have great ideas at baby bedtime.
Sometimes they get lost. Things go on a bit too long. I move from energised to strung out, or sleepy. Or I get up from the sleeping child and go straight into ‘chore mode’ and the zen gets lost.


But sometimes, just sometimes, there is magic in the stillness.

Do you have a sleep story you want to tell? Get in touch and add to the sleep series.

About the Sleep Series: It is a truth universally acknowledged that whenever two or more parents of young babies and children meet they will have a conversation about sleep. The Flamingo Rover sleep series is not intended to provide expert advice – more to tell sleep stories in an attempt to reassure parents that there is no such thing as a ‘normal’ nights sleep, and there is no such thing as a parent who is doing the ‘wrong’ thing.

Please please please –  If you’ve had a bad night’s sleep – or a bad week or a bad month do make sure you tell your friends about it.  Your welcome to tell me about it if you like. If you still don’t feel like yourself tell your GP and your midwife and your Health Visitor. Find a sleep clinic and talk it through. Try to take a nap.  
Look out for your sisters – If you see someone with a baby who looks like they have had a bad night’s sleep – or a bad week or a bad month go and chat to them. 


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