If someone had said to me 15 years ago “I see a lot of bedroom gymnastics in your future” I’d have left with a very excited imagination and quite possibly a wavy fanny. Fast forward to parenthood and the gymnastics are not quite the scene you may expect.
First, musical beds is never fun. Ever. Rising like the living dead from your slumber to address the cries of a child before settling off to sleep perched on the edge of a single bed as well as your nerves only to have a pair of knees shoved into your back or a tap on the head from the other child who also wants a piece of the action until there is three in a bed. Then there’s the endless battle for a sliver of the duvet. Followed by ‘the slide’ which is a move that parents have been practicing for decades. The moment when one foot silently touches the floor and creeps up the side of the bed to hold your weight as your body slithers onto the floor like some sort of seal into the zoo pool so as not to notify the other occupants that the mattress is rising slightly. At this point a hand reaches out from the darkness and grabs your arm before you curse under your breath and repeat the process again. Three times. Then I had a genius plan! Top and tailing! I lay at the foot of the bed and the child in question, or him AND his Brother at a later stage in the sleep deprivation endurance test, would lie at the top. I believed this would work until I was fishing toes out of every orifice I had and was drowning in a sea of limbs either kicking the covers off or just kicking me.
I tried controlled crying when the boys were infants but to be honest I cried more than them and realised early on that this was not an option for me. I tried hot water bottles and teddy bears in the bed, a variety of nightlights all promising to soothe my child off to a restful sleep which did nothing but amuse and stimulate them. I tried reading a bedtime story, playing an audio story, sitting on the end of the bed, then the floor, then the bum shuffle / commando crawl across the floor to the crack of light on the landing and the promise of a cold wine. My efforts were always caught just on the edge of victory. It’s as if they knew!
Swaddled and stranded
Finally, we tried a weighted blanket for Harry and a top bunk for Oliver so that one was swaddled into the bed and the other was stranded on top of one. To be fair, they were both happy and for a few weeks, there was peace and my weary body and battered mind caught up on some much needed sleep. Buuuuuuut not for long!!! Harry soon realised that the weighted blanket was no substitute for the flesh of his Mother and so he would charge into my room and demand “mummy’s bed”. I told him repeatedly that Mummy’s bed was closed and so from there he devised a number of strategies to catch me out. There was…
- The obvious attack ~ straight in!
- Stealth mode ~ where he crept in and tip toed round the bed with his arm across his eyes. I can only imagine the logic there is if he can’t see me then I can’t see him. Wrong!
- The cannon ball ~ where he just charged in and jumped onto me only to be wrestled up and marched off and
- The tantrum ~ where he shouted and stamped so I’d put him into my bed instead of him waking Oliver up
The battle is real
I’d like to say that I am a strong warrior mother, leading the way for others to follow. In reality, some nights I win but more often than not its Harrys victory and as much as I could throttle him in the lonely hours of the night, come the morning, with my hair like a bag of chips and bags under my eyes that you could pack for a week away in, I’m just happy to see another day.
So, I can’t give you a strategy that works. I can’t promise you that it will get better, although I live in hope that it will. But what I can tell you is that you are not alone. That there are other bedroom gymnasts who feel your pain and applaud your efforts and that if you’re going to be sitting on the bedroom floor for hours on end, it might be worth taking that cold wine in with you!