5th August 2020

The bedtime routine: dream vs reality

If you’ve never had an evening like this, you’re officially winning. For everyone else, here’s some reassurance.

Time: 5.23pm

The dream: Baby is playing happily on the floor with a wooden Scandinavian toy while you knock up a delicious tagine to be served up when Daddy gets home. In the background, Radio 4 fills you in on the latest political events, about which you have many intelligent opinions.

The reality: Baby is smearing strawberries and Babybel into your hair, but who cares as you haven’t washed it for a week anyway. The Babybel is from six meals ago, you just haven’t had time to wipe the highchair. Your own dinner will be tackled many, many hours from now. The only political activity you’ve engaged in since 2013 was signing a Facebook petition to save CBeebies – which is obviously on right now.

Time: 6.32pm

The dream: Daddy bounds through the door, clutching flowers. Your baby chooses this beautiful moment to take his first steps, launching himself into Daddy’s warm, muscular arms.

The reality: You repeatedly refresh your live train arrivals/real time traffic app and then send a pass-agg text to Daddy: “I’m assuming you’re running a bit late, hope all ok, can you let me know if you’ll be back for bedtime asap as bubba’s very tired xxx”. Meanwhile, “bubba” is whacking HD Iggle Piggle with a fork.

Time: 6.59pm

The dream: You share a bubble bath with your gurgling, giggling baby while Daddy sits beside you playing acoustic guitar with his warm, muscular arms, giving The Wheels On The Bus a stripped-back, Radio 1 Live Lounge sort of vibe.

The reality: Daddy’s still not home so you run the bath while letting baby have some “nappy-free time” because you heard it’s really good for them – or you got in a muddle and took his clothes off too early, one or the other. He wees on the pile of clean laundry you’ve dumped on the floor. You pretend not to notice, since it’s going to get dirty sooner or later anyway.

Time: 7.19pm

The dream: Cuddling baby in his warm, muscular arms, Daddy reads a story, putting on a variety of hilarious animal voices, and then gently passes him over to you. You breastfeed him until he’s drowsy but awake, and then gently place him in the cot. He flashes you a dozy smile and falls asleep.

The reality: Still no sign of Daddy, so you skip the story and shove baby on your boob. He nods off quickly – too quickly, he’s going to be hungry again soon, you just know it – and you wait until your arm is dead before attempting a stealth transfer to the cot. Daddy chooses this moment to bound through the door, shouting “Hello! Dada’s home! Am I too late for bedtime?”. Baby jolts awake and cries. You shove him on your boob again.

Time: 8.14pm

The dream: You snuggle on the sofa in Daddy’s warm, muscular arms and drink a respectable amount of really good wine while watching a Danish drama on Amazon Prime. And that tagine went down really well.

The reality: You’re still upstairs attempting something called “shush-pat”. Daddy’s watching the football. He does bring you some wine, though. “Can I take over?”, “No, there’s no point now”, “Shall I order takeaway?”, “If you want”.  

Time: 10.07pm

The dream: You glide up to bed, checking in on baby on the way. He’s fine, of course, and doesn’t stir. Daddy flashes you a cheeky grin as you head towards the marital bed. Now it’s time to make baby a little brother or sister. You’re both ready. Those warm, muscular arms slide up your silk nightie…

The reality: Baby’s finally asleep in his cot, so you sneak downstairs in tracksuit bottoms and an old Blink 182 hoodie and wolf down some luke-warm lemon chicken. You’re on your third mouthful when the monitor roars at you. It’s fine, you hadn’t bothered to re-fasten your nursing bra anyway.

Time: 12.39am

The dream: Blissful post-coital sleep in those warm, muscular arms.

The reality: Daddy falls to the floor and cuts his sweaty, knobbly arm on some discarded Duplo as baby, who joined you in bed two hours ago, thrusts his warm, flabby limbs across the mattress and does a huge fart.    

Time: 4.48am

The dream: Zzzzzzz.

The reality: MORNING!

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