I’m going to type something that will make you want to kick me square in the face, but it’s been six weeks now and it’s important to address it – our baby sleeps all night. Like, she sacks out between 8 and 9pm, and she gets up at 7am. To be honest, I can’t find much online about babies doing this at such a young age, and sometimes it worries me when she hasn’t eaten in 12 hours or she’s been lying in a wet nappy for 13 hours, but I’ve decided just to roll with it.
Before you kick me in the face, though, you should know that there’s a terrible downside to this, which is that by day she sleeps like a cracked-out meerkat, which is to say hardly at all. If I’m lucky she naps for 30 minutes at a time, getting cranky and overtired as the day goes on, culminating in a bedtime meltdown and all-night babycoma. What fun.
When Chris first started working out of the house on Fridays, I did a few Google searches for ‘home alone with a newborn’ and ‘daily baby routine’ and found heaps of stuff that included phrases like ‘Shower during her morning nap!’ Or ‘Take an hour during her lunchtime sleep to catch up on chores’, which made me tearfully hysterical. Her naps might be just long enough for me to run for a wee, and even then I’d better not flush or breathe or remove my underpants for fear of waking the kraken.
So, for anyone (anyone?) out there with a similarly sleepless-in-the-day baby, here’s how I do a low-effort Friday, including my ‘brilliant’ baby activity ‘ideas’. Please don’t call the baby police.
Nap cycle 1
Baby wakes! Make bottle, feed, change, burp. This is the easiest cycle of all as the baby is all dopey from her all night sleepathon.
Fingers Lie down in bed together. Hold up one hand. Baby holds your fingers and waves them around. First to fall asleep is the winner.
Naptime chore: Get up slowly. Sloooowly. Shhh! Pull on any clothes you can find – it doesn’t matter if you look like Worzel Gummage, no one will see you. Creep to kitchen and make bottle and coffee. Don’t confuse the two. I make my coffee in an insulated lidded cup so it stays hot for a while and I’m less likely to spill it on her HEY-OH ACTUAL USEFUL TIP!
Don’t bother with: Shower. Leave it, mate, it’s not worth it.
Nap cycle 2
Baby wakes! Snuggle her as she struggles in your loving embrace, hahaha baby, there’s no escape! In theory she should now be fed, but our naps are so short that I often have to kill some time before a feed with some activities.
Gym ‘n’ Gollum time! Ten minutes getting thoroughly worked-up in the musical baby gym. Everytime the music ends say ‘Let’s have another one, precious!’ like Gollum, until she kicks the music button again.
Parkinson Baby lies on Daddy’s footstool and gurgles like a loon. Act like a sycophantic interviewer and say encouraging things like ‘And then what happened?’ and ‘What would you say was the inspiration for your new album?’
Don’t tell Daddy! Baby throws up on a footstool. Wipe it up and say ‘Don’t tell Daddy!’ Then both laugh until someone throws up again. Usually the baby.
Changing table cereal bar Put the baby on her changing table with a stuffed monkey. Eat a cereal bar and make monkey noises.
Lie down and surf the internet. You’re crushing this, soldier! Make next bottle VERY QUIETLY.
Nap cycle 3
Baby wakes! Say hello then run and stick a pan of soup on to heat before she notices you’ve disappeared. Return to bedroom and act casual. Now feed, burp and change.
Activity: Floor blanket! Plop baby on a blanket on the floor. Surround her with soft toys then go and put your soup in a mug. Now you can sit at arms reach and drink
your soup with one hand while playing some fun games with the other like…
Soft toy Sophie’s Choice Present two toys and see which one baby likes best. Kill the other toy (not really).
Reality bites Make toy animals behave like real animals eg. bear tries to eat baby’s face, chicken pecks everything and gets attacked by fox toy. Etc.
When you’ve finished your soup you can play…
Mummy is big Stand over baby and, to her amazement, demonstrate that you have legs and a body and are not, in fact, a disembodied head.
Dance! Whistle a tune badly. Dance badly. Baby will either laugh and try to copy you or stare at you blankly. It’s 50/50 for me.
Mummy’s lie down Lie next to baby and let her punch you in the face. Surprisingly relaxing. Close your eyes or she will scratch your corneas.
Take a laptop into the bedroom and check email or do an online grocery order. Ada’s naps are so short that I can now do a weekly shop in under three minutes. When it arrives, it looks like that bit in Trainspotting when Ewan McGregor buys all the soup and buckets.
Nap cycles 4-6
Baby wakes! If your baby is anything like mine she’ll have been asleep for about 8 minutes, entering you into a world of ever-decreasing wake/sleep periods in which baby gets more and more enraged at her continued existence.
Mix and match these activities as needed…
Pram around the block Our baby doesn’t sleep well in the pram any more but I pop her in anyway and show her the trees that are least likely to drop leaves or conkers in her eyes. Look! Trees! Pretty! Tip – this is a good opportunity to drink another travel flask coffee uninterrupted.
Through the keyhole Carry baby around the house and look at things like windows, pictures, bookshelves and the debris of your former life. Narrate like Loyd Grossman. If you’re lucky, she might fall asleep again (SPOILER, she won’t).
Baby beauty salon Put baby on the changing mat and wash her hands, face and neck. Ada loves to ‘dry’ her hands by waving paper towels in the air. You can also trim nails, brush hair and give her shoulders and tummy a relaxing massage, if you’re feeling enthusiastic.
Rattle! Baby rests on your knees and bats at a rattle. Optional: Baby kicks you in spleen.
Prepare for bedtime battle. Are bottles clean? Is crib bedding ready? Are pyjamas prepared? Good. In the minutes and seconds of unconsciousness your baby achieves, down a small alcoholic drink or large piece of chocolate.
Yawn? BEDTIME. Good luck, soldier. Good luck.
- Never drink hot beverages within flailing distance of a baby. Obviously.
- Front-load the day with exciting activities and wind-down as the day goes on, otherwise your baby will get hugely overstimulated and want to stay up all night crying and laughing like a 90s acid casualty.
- If your baby won’t sleep through a wee or shower, put a little chair in the bathroom and let her watch you. If you’re thinking ‘My bladder is too shy to wee while someone stares at me and smiles weirdly’, I can assure you this is less of a problem once you’ve given birth.
- The Baby Whisperer has some good stuff on sleep that’s got Ada napping a little bit better. The EASY (eat, activity, sleep, your time) routine for us is more like EASASAEAAARGGGHWTF though.