Saturday, 28 October 2017

Changing the clocks

Back in the old days, the autumnal changing of the clocks was a day to be relished. An extra hour in bed, an excuse to stay up a bit later, knowing you wouldn't pay the penalty the next morning. Little did I realise, back then, how many people there were, in my street, in my school, in my office, who must have hated the return of GMT as much then as I do now.

Changing the clocks when in possession of a small child is not a thing of joy and wonder. It is a fiendish plot hatched by those who do not understand the sanctity of parental sleep, and who blithely say things like, "he/she could just have a lie in after a later night" when talking about your small darling, as though any normal child under the age of 15 has ever had a lie-in on any occasion other than when so ill they should probably be in hospital.

I have, after the first 22 months*, been blessed with a child who is relatively good at sleeping. I am also that most cursed of parents - I have a child who obeys his GroClock. Contrary to what is written by various other Mummy Bloggers whose children do not obey the GroClock, this doesn't mean my child is stupid or unimaginative. It means he is horribly anxious and terrified of breaking the rules, to the extent that he will wet himself at football club rather than ask to go to the bathroom because he is afraid that he's not allowed to ask. So if anyone starts to give me grief about my son's unnatural obedience, I'll give them chapter and verse on the downsides. The trade-off between GroClock-obedience and desperate anxiety and self-doubt is not as obvious as the sleep-deprived would believe.

Anyway, back in the realms of sleep...

We are currently three weeks into a sticker chart rewarding LittleBear for not fretting about the absolute time on the clock, as he had become incredibly anxious about what time it was when he fell asleep, and worried about not being able to fall asleep. So, really, changing the time is an excellent way to further mess with his head. We've already had to hide his GroClock at bedtime, and then sneak it back again once he's asleep so that he doesn't know the time when he goes to bed but does know the time in the morning.

You might wonder why we bother, but I (slightly shame-facedly) admit that, in the morning, he is every parent's dream. When his GroClock says 7 o'clock**, he knows he's allowed to open his curtains, or turn his light on, and read his books. And when the "sun" comes up on the clock (typically 7:15) he's allowed to get up and come and climb into our bed. And he rarely makes a peep before that.

This week, I've attempted something A Bit Cunning.

I've changed the time on LittleBear's clock by 10 minutes every day for the last 6 days. I've give him breakfast, lunch, dinner, bathtime and bedtime 10 minutes later every day***. And he's solemnly turned his light on at "7 o'clock" every morning. Except it was nearly 8 o'clock this morning by the unadulterated clocks in the house.

Which sounds like it's worked brilliantly doesn't it?

I'm beginning to sound dangerously smug aren't I?

Do you want to know what the real effect has been?

LittleBear has got incrementally more tired, deranged and miserable every day for the past six days.

Our evenings have got shorter by ten minutes every day for the past six days.

Bedtimes have become more fraught, with higher rates of whimpering-small-boy every day for the past six days.

My Cunning Plan has resulted in not one exhausted day, but a slowly ramping crescendo of misery, looming over the entirety of half term.

Truly, tomorrow is going to be a barrel of laughs.

Which is where Section Two of my Cunning Plan comes into force. I'm going to spend all afternoon in London with friends, and not get home until after bedtime. I might even have a nap on the train on the way there. Good luck BigBear...

* Yes, I was counting.

** Parents of earlier risers - please don't hate me too much. I'm a nice person really.

*** The mental contortions involved in this undertaking have almost been enough to deprive me of an hour's sleep every night.

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