Daddy Diary: Sleep Wars and Nightshifts

Riddle me this – when is a baby asleep but awake?


I don’t know, I’ll tell you in the morning.

I’ve had a rough night. My wife and I haven’t been lucky with sleeping patterns in regards to our two wee ones. Our first born was particularly bad, but now we have two?

It’s like they’ve formed a team and their aim isn’t world domination – but to grind us both down so they can get what they want.

Too weary to form any resistance, after the twentieth time of asking for another yoghurt we break down and give in.

It’s all going according to plan for these two mini evil-geniuses.

In order to maintain a semblance of sanity, my wife and I have organised a schedule of sorts. We call the responsibility to wake up and change/feed/cuddle the little ones when they unexplainably sit bolt upright in the middle of the night; ‘The Nightshift.”

So, the nightshift is broken up through the week. My wife takes Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights – and I take the Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. So when one wakes up, I’m prepped with bottle and one eye flickering because it wasn’t ready to wake up. If a change is what is needed, then I stumble my way downstairs to give them a fresh nappy.

Our children don’t exactly read the script though.


Photo by Michal Bar Haim on Unsplash

Even though my firstborn was a literal sleep-demon in his first eighteen months (he even had my parents scratching their heads as they had no answer to why he refused to sleep), this has improved in the last year. Now he gets up just once, perhaps twice in the night and wants to get in bed with us.

This was another thing we vowed we would never do before our kids were born, but look at us now…

Anyway, it seems as though the baton for being the worst sleeper in the known world has been passed down to our youngest.

And last night, he flexed his muscles and created a real ruckus.

I headed to bed at around midnight, as I have to wake up at around 0430. I’ve gotten used to getting by on minimal sleep, so this was normal. Besides, the time when both kids are asleep is the time you actually remember you are more than just a parent. You can watch something on TV other than a talking, juvenile pig or alphabet animations from the former Soviet bloc which contain terrible dubbing and stay in your head for months on end.

So I head to bed and at around three in the morning, the littlest decides it is high time he woke up. So my wife attempts to give him his bottle.

No madam, you’re not getting off this easy.

So she gives him cuddles. Embraces to make him feel warm, secure and loved.

Sorry m’lady, what’s behind Door Number 3?

By this time, the oldest has had his nightly wake up and is in bed with us as well.

I’m Scottish, so I don’t enjoy warmth that much and with four of us in the bed and their limbs clambering all over me, I’m now too hot and can’t sleep.

Plus, I hear a little desperation in my wife’s voice as she pleads with the youngest to go to sleep.

I’m up now, what’s the point in me being in bed if I can’t sleep? Even though this isn’t my nightshift, one of us might as well get some sleep. So I take the baby and tall my wife that I’ll get him off to sleep before I go to work.

And that is what I do. I take him to the sanctity of the living room, snuggle up on the couch with him in my arms, and pat his bum rhythmically – this works on some babies but not all.

My wrist aches. My neck aches as if I support my head with anything I will fall asleep and possibly drop my offspring (a real no-no in childcare circles apparently). But I continue to concentrate on getting my baby to sleep.

In the hour and a bit that I had before my alarm goes off in the morning, I managed it and crept back upstairs with the baby. Islipped the little one back in the cot and headed downstairs to make what will be my first of 28 coffees for the day.

See you all tomorr……………zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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