Caught napping by my girl's sleep strike

By Cari Rosen, March 4, 2011
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To sleep perchance to dream… chance would be a fine thing.

The infant's midday nap is surely seen by many, if not most parents, as a brief opportunity to regain one's sanity. Perhaps a chance to cram in a bit of work; eat a meal without a small person demanding "can I have a bit?"; to make a phone call without having to break off to explain that, "yes, Monkey is a boy but no, he doesn't have a willie" every 30 seconds. To get things done.

Little wonder that I, like so many before me, have quailed at the very thought of this daytime sleep's demise.

Since the child has turned two people have been trying to warn me that it's on the way out. In response I have simply clamped my hands over my ears and sung "la la la la" very loudly until they've gone away.

But with her third birthday fast approaching the girl appears to be taking matters into her own hands and realising that she might be missing out on something way more exciting than a stint in a darkened room with Bear and Monkey. If only she knew.

While I can think of nothing I would like more than to snooze away an hour or two each lunchtime, in the eyes of my small girl an internet grocery shop is far more fun.

Day one of her resisting the daytime shluf and she's doing OK considering. Day two and cracks are starting to appear. Day three and she's so tired she can barely keep her eyes open.

"Bed," I tell her, as much for my sake as hers. "A lovely sleep and you'll feel so much better."

I just about make it down to the kitchen before she calls me back upstairs to inform me that she is not a meerkat. There's not a lot I can say to that so I smile sweetly, wish her goodnight and head towards the door.

"Mummy," says a little voice, "how many babies do you have in your tummy?" I am forced to backtrack - and to admit that they are actually Creme Eggs (sextuplets) - before leaving the room once again. Twenty minutes later and she is still singing to herself, a song (as far as I can make out) about the rabbi, baa baa black sheep and a nectarine. I admit defeat.

Day four. She's hanging on by a thread. I'm coping little better. I figure that some mother/daughter quiet time might help but the girl has decided to ration cuddles on the basis that "I already gave you some".

I try to explain to her that if you love someone then cuddles should be in endless supply. She considers this.

"I do love someone" (position myself in anticipation for huge hug) "Grandma."

I spot a chink in her armour, a stifled yawn and some furtive rubbing of the eyes. Too good an opportunity not to give it one last shot. Even better, she seems surprisingly compliant.

Bedtime story (dictated): "Once upon a time, long, long ago, I was a big girl. I dreamed of butterflies, had a smoothie, did a wee on the toilet forever and ever and ever. And we all lived happily ever after, the end."

And with that she sleeps. For two whole hours. Not just once but every day for a fortnight. I know it can't last so I'm enjoying it while I can. The work gets done. The calls get made. The girl thrives on some decent rest. Mummy gets a deliciously sleepy hug at the end of it and everyone is happy.

'The Secret Diary of a New Mum (Aged 43¼)' is published by Vermilion at £11.99

    Last updated: 10:08am, March 4 2011