Dot writes: the title is meant both literally and metaphorically, though not in the popular smutty sense. Before we had children I thought their sleeping habits would progress something like this: stage 1: new baby sleeps in co-sleeper cot, wakes to feed. Stage 2: older baby starts to sleep through the night, transferred to own room. Stage 3: Toddler begins to enjoy bed-time stories. Moments of starry-eyed tenderness as little person laid gently in cot still babbling of Spot the Dog. Stage 4: Toddler gets own bed. Further starry-eyed stuff, first cute attempts to sing Evening Prayer from Hansel and Gretel etc etc. In fact, of course, it has been less a steady stairway to the stars and more a game of snakes and ladders: baby at four months would sleep for stretches of six or seven hours in his cot but at ten months thinks two hours is quite enough and vocally prefers our bed. Toddler has moved from cot to bed but, oh dear, now takes an hour to settle in the evening and every fourth night or so appears sobbing in our room at 1am. The holiday was definitely a big snake (we got to see some rather excellent snakes at the Pili Palas in Anglesey, incidentally): our bedtime routine was reduced to rubble by a combination of unfamiliar spaces, lack of separate rooms, manifold distractions, a delightful blow-up bed that Hugh complained was “bumpy”, and Mummy and Daddy drinking wine in the evenings. Once we were weak enough to let Hugh sleep all night in bed with me and Frank (Ken got a tent-compartment to himself). This has had to be repeated at least once since we got back, with Ken getting the rather less pleasant option of Hugh’s bedroom floor. Climbing back up the ladder has not been that easy, especially as the boys are both having to adjust back to spending most of their time with only one chore-burdened parent instead of both parents plus a selection of other interested adults who also do the cooking.

However, I think we are getting there. One big achievement: we finally seem to be working out a decent routine for Frank. As readers will know, we chickened out on sleep-training him a few months back. However, we did move his cot into Hugh’s room and before going away had been getting him to sleep there for a few hours before he came into ours in the evening. But it was awkward: if he got to sleep before Hugh he tended to be woken by Hugh’s bedtime antics, but if he went to bed after Hugh we couldn’t risk letting him make any noise in Hugh’s room; and trying to do them both together is a recipe for madness. So we tended to let him fall asleep when he felt like it, which varied wildly from day to day. I’ve now started giving him a bath (which Hugh always insists on sharing) at 7pm each evening. (We normally have a family wash in the morning, which is why we weren’t doing this before). I then close the curtains in our room and begin to feed/cuddle/pat him to sleep, and I put him down on a little camp-bed. Later he gets moved into Hugh’s room, after Hugh has gone to sleep. And soon after he wakes up again. Nonetheless, it’s a start, and we are finally giving him some regularity and sleep-cues that can continue past weaning. We plan to have another go at the sleep-training as soon as we’ve made arrangements for me and Hugh to be somewhere else for a few nights.

Hugh, on the other hand, seemed to have reverted rather badly. He was making a dreadful fuss about bedtime and waking a lot in the night. He complained his bed was scary. Twice he even asked to sleep in Frank’s cot. We asked him if he would like to have his bed converted back into a cot; “that’s an idea,” he replied. So Ken did the DIY stuff and for two nights Hugh was in a cot again. But I was depressed at the idea of having to do the cot-to-bed transition, with all the hours of soothing and settling that were required in the first week, all over again, so we tried a compromise: we bought one of those guards that fits on the side of Hugh’s bed, and Ken took one of the cot-sides back off. And I must say, it seems to be a success. Hugh has been much easier to put to bed for the last couple of nights and he apparently finds the guard comforting. Unfortunately his faithful night-time companion Teddy got left on the lawn in the rain yesterday and was rejected this evening for being smelly. But we should be able to fix that.

Oh, the literal bed-hopping: Hugh likes to hop and climb over his bed. With the bed half in cot mode the foot-board is much higher. He is able to use it to climb onto the windowsill, whence he scrambles onto the small cabinet and from there to the armchair. It’s slightly terrifying but I suppose it’s the athletic two-year-old’s equivalent of an evening constitutional.

Sweet dreams, please….


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