Any parent that says bedtime is completely stress-free is a great, big fibber. By the time the dulcet tones of Charlie and Lola start, I’m ready to grab that smiley CBeebies logo and throw it in the log burner. The witching hour (this is not a myth: The witching hour is a real phenomenon. Designed to drive mums to wine. Or whine. Or probably both) is underway and the Big One and Medium One turn from lovely, fun little girls into WWF Pro Wrestlers jumping on each other and seeing who can make the other cry first. Once they’ve ascertained who wins that round, they try to see who can make the other cry the loudest. The winner of that round is hard to judge: I’m usually wailing above them.
I can remember when the Big One was a baby, and friends would tell me that their little angel was sleeping through already. They’d swiftly follow this statement with something along the lines of, “I only had to jump up and give him/her their dummy a few times.” I would adopt my polite face, and say, “Oh, that’s good.” Inside, my inner banshee was screaming: “THAT IS NOT SLEEPING THROUGH! Sleeping through is eight hours undisturbed bliss.” I haven’t had the latter since 2010.
We’ve been through all the bedtime traumas: The Medium One went through a stage of refusing to fall asleep unless Husband or I sat on the floor by her bed praying to the god of sleep that she’d fall asleep soon. We could be there for hours. The Big One used to want to suck my finger to sleep. Supernanny’s gradual retreat technique was pretty good, but fundamentally it took a strict routine to teach Big and Medium that when Mummy said it was time to go to sleep, it was time to go to sleep.
Part of this routine is a bath. Prior to my Sleep Dictator Mummy guise, bath time was fairly noisy. There was a lot of splashing and brightly coloured toys. It’s a quiet affair now. I leave the main light off and the girls bath with Husband’s cleverly designed mood lighting. There are bubbles, but no toys. It’s 15-minutes of winding down, gentle songs, trying to keep the girls at opposite ends of the bath to stop them resuming their wrestling. After their bath, they have a quick story, a kiss goodnight and, all being well, they’re left to fall asleep.
Tonight I had a secret ingredient and they were both out cold by 6.45. Little was sleeping off her bath (oh yes, I have all three in the bath at once. I’m brave, me) and feed in her rocker and I actually had a hot supper for the first time in forever.
I’m tempted not to share the identity of my secret ingredient, but I’m more selfless than that and I think there’s plenty to go round. InfaCare have brought out an ultra-mild night-time baby bath. Now, I’ve tried night time bath things before and been sadly disappointed but this one nearly sent me to sleep on the bathroom floor. Good job it didn’t. The bottle says it’s a ‘specially selected, safe and gentle fragrance’ but doesn’t specify exactly what it is. There’s definitely lavender in there. It certainly calmed my little wrestlers down and me, too. Instead of coming downstairs in a knot of argh, I was pretty calm.
I have to be careful with bath products; Medium has eczema and Little is too small to use anything but the kindest stuff. InfaCare say their bubble bath is gentle and suitable for littles with dry and sensitive skin. Medium’s skin certainly didn’t seem to mind it, but the proof will be in longer term use.
But why should the smalls get the best stuff? I’m going to let Husband juggle Little later and go for a soak myself. InfaCare, I’m coming to get you.
(I can’t help thinking I’ve jinxed the whole bedtime thing by writing this blog. I might yet be praying to the sleep gods again.)