Chalk and cheese


The Dad Diary
Edwin McGreal

With the kids at home seven days a week during lockdown, never has sleep been more important.
Somedays can be long so the importance of a full night’s sleep for them – and us – has never been more important.
Éamon can take a bow in this regard. He goes down like a dream virtually every night. We ask him at bedtime if he wants to go to ‘beddies’ and the answer is always an emphatic ‘yeeaahh’!
Once you place him in his cot, he’s content and will either nod off quickly or just potter around, change a few tunes on his musical mobile in the bed and we won’t hear from him again until the following morning.
And when I say the following morning, it’s often just about morning. It’s unusual for him to wake before 10am and sometimes, after a really hard day of running around after his sister, flying down slides and going for walks, he might not wake until close to midday.
This propensity for up to 16 hours of sleep a night started just before lockdown and the timing was immaculate. Some mornings he might wake around 6am or 7am but will quite contentedly make his way to his mobile and put some music on and settle himself back to sleep. If only that was as easy for all of us!  
We don’t feel in the slightest bit guilty about his sleep-ins either. We went through some hellish nights with him when he would wake up four or five times every night for months on end. Those nights feel like some sort of investment in shares and we’re reaping a substantial dividend now.
We used to say he was way harder than Frankie when it came to sleep and nighttime. His older sister was a joy going down when she was his age and all before that.
You’ll notice the use of the past tense there. These past few months, since Christmas really, nighttime has become much more of a challenge with Frankie. She’s much more likely to resist going down, much harder to convince to ‘go to sleep’ and much more likely to wake during the night.
In the course of a pretty typical last seven days her start times were wildly erratic from two 8am starts, two 7ams, one 6am, one 5am and one 4am. She wasn’t the only one who was erratic at 4am, I can tell you!
Settling her back to sleep at such hours has proven quite the challenge too. The fact her brother might still be asleep eight hours later is a help but also makes you curse how close but how far you are from a good night’s sleep yourself!
You would think she would crash and burn during the day when she’s up at 4am, but she’s like a Duracell bunny, mad for road, non stop!
She’s at the stage where any nightmare puts a stop to sleep and is altogether more concerned with darkness than someone Éamon’s age. We’ve put in a nightlight but it only does so much.
Like everything else, we keep telling ourselves it is only a phase and she will grow out of it. Won’t she?

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