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Sleeping on the job


The Dad Diary
Edwin McGreal

Frankie turns two tomorrow. It’s hard to sum up how much life has changed in those two years.
In one sense it has flown, but in another it is hard to remember life without kids.
The last two years have brought a lot of joy. I’d be lying if I said it was all plain sailing though. Sleepless nights, the challenges of getting anything done with kids around and the distinct lack of a social life stand out. But it has been a very fair trade.
Only when Eamon came along in September did we appreciate just how far Frankie has come along. The last year, in particular, has seen huge developments. From taking her first steps on her first birthday, Frankie is now able to run rings around me, literally.
Words and comprehension have followed, particularly in the last two months and she’s particularly proud of her latest trick: being able to eat pasta with a plastic fork. My pre-fatherhood self would have scoffed at being so pleased to watch this. But life changes rapidly once the kids come into your life.
The biggest difference between Frankie and Eamon though is routine. Frankie is a bundle of energy when she’s up and about but she knows when it is bed time. In fact, she loves it.
She typically naps between two and three hours in the afternoon and 12 hours at night. There’s no persuasion needed. So much does she love her sleep that if I just say the word ‘beddies’, she drops whatever she’s in the middle of, says ‘kiss’, goes up to her little brother and her mother for a peck, waves and says ‘bye bye’, and heads off to her bedroom with me following.
If she didn’t have to be lifted into her cot, I’m not sure I’d need to follow her up at all.
Eamon, on the other hand, is still learning the ropes when it comes to sleep. He’s pretty much sleeping through the night now once you get him down. True, this is something to be grateful for, but most parents will get the challenging part of that statement – ‘once you get him down’.
Sometimes Eamon will go off to sleep after his last feed at 11pm and be in a deep sleep for the night. Other times he will only drift for a few minutes, wake up and get settled again – playing this tune on repeat until it’s 2am and he needs another feed.
So, no matter how long your day has been, how tired you are, you don’t know when you’re going to get to sleep until you are actually asleep. Trying to negotiate with a two-month-old baby is a fool’s errand too. He will go when he’s ready, not when you are.
Meanwhile, in the room next door Frankie will sleep through storms and any amount of crying from her brother. Eamon will get to this stage too … won’t he?

In his fortnightly column, Edwin McGreal charts the ups and downs of the biggest wake-up call of his life: parenthood.