Not all plain sailing on the good ship mum-and-lad-time

As I write this entry, on Day 54, I’m sitting in our local soft play centre, enjoying half an hour’s peace and a cuppa while Daddy mounts various obstacle courses, chasing after Bubba.

We came here on a mid-afternoon rescue mission hastily code named ‘Tire Out the Toddler at all Costs’.


Picture of George in a ball pit at our local soft play centre

Thank goodness there is such a thing as soft play, to work off some of that boundless boyish energy which – unchannelled – combusts into mischief


Which brings me neatly round to the main topic of this entry, six days of exhausting challenges.

Challenge 1. Sleep (or lack of it)

Don’t they use sleep deprivation as a form of anti-torture training in the SAS? Maybe they should save time and money and recruit some parents who’ve been at it for a few years and built up battle-resistant constitutions as a result!

Mike and I went into smug mode when George was three months old and started sleeping through. We thought we’d climbed straight to the top of the parenting podium. We had got our child into a sleep routine. How clever we thought we were…so little did we know, looking back, as that was just his way of lulling us into a false sense of security!

The two years that followed were a very different story, filled with repeated broken sleep with sundry causes ranging from Nu location issues to wandering duvet cover syndrome. The problems started when George developed asthma. Typically, it went undiagnosed until he was around a year old, yet the characteristic cough would keep him, and therefore us, awake at night. Teething was also an issue, and restless sleep became common as soon as he started cutting his first ones.

Although we finally got past this hurdle as George turned two, we’re always on the brink of a  re-lapse and trouble usually ensues each time he has a cold. That’s exactly what’s happened over the last week. Cold=unable to breathe through nose while sucking thumb=night time grizzles=into Mummy and Daddy’s bed as the last ditch effort to grasp just a couple of hours sleep out of a night. Then, of course, when he’s well again, he decides he quite likes being in with us, sprawling across a great big bed, enjoying cuddles, and it becomes difficult to break the habit again.

It always amazes me, when this happens, how much havoc this one little person can cause in our household, and so it’s been recently. Daddy and I end up taking shifts with the baby monitor, meaning we don’t get near each other until the latest bout of insomnia has passed; the sleepless half of our partnership is understandably irritable and lacking in motivation to do anything but veg in a quiet corner, and our whole daytime routine is easily derailed by the events of the night before.

Some tough love over the horizon again, methinks…coupled with our usual tactical blend of Gro clock; multiple, strategically-placed Nus and trying to let him grizzle it out (not an easy call when your child has a condition like asthma).

Challenge 2 – stroppy syndrome

There’s absolutely no doubt about it, we are unequivocally in the middle of the ‘terrible twos’. We know this by the tantrums, self-opinionation, fierce (and worryingly fearless) independence, and general contrariness.

George, in between his periodic gremlinesque episodes, is an adorabe, polite, caring and intelligent little boy. However, international peace negotiators have nothing on us when it comes to getting through a typical day unscathed. Our current (long) list of discipline strategies includes:

  • Bribery (brush your teeth if you want to go and see Gran, you can have sweets if you stop running around the bedroom and get dressed (OK, I always said I would never resort to this, but when in Rome and desperate), say sorry to Mummy for slapping or the Nu gets it (promise, I’m exaggerating this one – no Nus have been harmed in the writing of this blog!)
  • Peer pressure (Look what a good boy Theo’s being – he does what his Mummy tells him)
  • Privilege withdrawal (we won’t do x or y fun thing if you don’t do x or y. The bedtime story usually gets a mention when we need to bring out the big guns)
  • Exclusion (a few minutes’ time out in his bedroom or another quiet place in the house when he’s in extreme naughty mode. We shelved the naughty corner strategy after George ordered his 10-year-old cousin to get in his imaginary naughty corner during a day out at our local park, something he hasn’t quite recovered from yet!).

Joking aside though, it’s really tough sometimes. We have a very boisterous boy who is full of energy and life, and taming and honing that without clipping his spirit is a real challenge. Some days, I feel like crying with the frustration of trying to complete the most basic of tasks in reasonable time. There is no doubt about it, going out to work again will be easier when the time comes!

As with all children, though, these trials are vastly outweighed by the moments of pure joy. All I can say is that I now know now why god made babies cute!

What’s your biggest child-rearing challenge at the moment – is it something behavioural, health-related or, like us, a lack of sleep which is stopping you from functioning? What ‘fighting strategies’ have worked for you in overcoming these issues?


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4 comments on “Not all plain sailing on the good ship mum-and-lad-time”

  1. Melanie Dowding says:

    Hey Fletch. I have to ask, as someone who knows nothing about these things, what on earth is a Nu?!

    1. Hey mate, great to have you on board! Ahh, the Nu, or Nu-me to cite his proper name. He’s the little koala bear teddy-stroke-comfort blanket who has to accompany us everywhere or chaos ensues. Unbeknown to George he has various stunt doubles for use in case of emergencies and you can see a pic of him in my ‘mum and toddler survival kit’ post from a few days ago xxx

  2. Amy says:

    Hi, just wanted to share that I am loving your blog, particularly your honesty and way of writing. Joy & Alison introduced me to it. We have met at reubs second birthday party.

    I like you have a toddler (Finley) but also have a 3 month old and a 9 year old thrown in the mix. Im currently on maternity and life at the moment is a juggling act. Throughout our days I have many roles, referee, cook, cleaner, teacher, entertainer, nurse!!! The list is endless.

    Like you we are trying to fill our days, we also enjoy walking, and finding free activities. Visiting new parks is a new favourite activity. I find that toy rotation really helps, both with space & in keeping Finley occupied!! We are trying to be a bit more structured with our days, I’m trying to get 2 sessions of learning based play into everyday.

    1. Hey Amy, congratulations on becoming the first person to comment on my blog! It’s really great to have you on board and thanks so much for taking the time to share your experiences. I’m glad you’re enjoying reading it. I’d love to hear more about the educational play activities you engage in with your children. Could you describe a couple of them here, so I and other mums can give them a try?

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