Friday, 4 December 2009

Who's been sleeping in MY bed?

Strange thing, when you think about it, this bed-sharing malarky. Charlie's never been one for teddy bears in his cot. He'll take a bus to bed, or kiss his 'choo-choo' train goodnight and wave a fond (and individual) farewell to all of his toy cars. But soft, cute, fluffy, cuddly creatures have held no attraction for him. Until now.

Suddenly, and without explanation, he has started taking a bear to bed. And not just any old bear. George. Yes, George. Don't laugh. There are far stranger names for bears in our house. Like 'Spade' (Sally's favourite bear) or Roof. Another one of hers was known as Sponge from the moment he was unwrapped. And then there's Cuthbert. No, I can't explain that either. But here he is in bed with Charlie...

And now it's confession time. This isn't a sight I see very often. Because, I'm not 'tuned in' to Charlie's crying in the way that Sarah is. I read about this first on Emma's blog; CafeBebe blogged about it too on Wednesday. It seems that most men aren't too hot when it comes to hearing their offspring call out in the middle of the night, leaving their beleaguered partners to do the lion's share of the nocturnal soothing. There are all sorts of theories, from the inherent laziness of the male (I thought I'd better say that first) to the female's  hormonal responses to a child's cry, linked most obviously to feeding.

Lots of comments (from mums) confirmed the idea that women get up more than men. Many - while expressing some annoyance - said that they thought it was fair if their husbands were getting up for work in the morning. Some dads said they did most of the getting up in spite of getting up to go to work each morning.

Well here in Charlie Towers, as you know, roles are reversed. Sarah goes to work each day, and I don't. It's only fair that Charlie's mother gets a good night's sleep. Come eight o'clock she's in the car and driving twenty miles to work. My commute consists of coming down the stairs. By nine o'clock sharp Sarah's got to be performing in the classroom, teaching groups of eager schoolgirls, whereas I might well be in my dressing-gown still watching Milkshake. I could take the interrupted sleep more easily. I should be doing the night-shift.

But I don't. I sleep through all the coughing and the crying and the calling (which is almost always 'mummy'). Am I lazy? Is it that I lack the hormonal hair-trigger? Or is it any of the other theories?

Well, no. I have a simpler explanation. It is this: I'm knackered. Women's work (as someone else once said) is possibly the hardest work I've ever done. A day of entertaining Charlie, shopping, washing, cleaning, cooking and the rest of it and I'm worn out. I'm frequently in bed much earlier than Sarah. And in spite of getting up in the night, she's often awake before me in the morning. I sleep through Charlie's crying in the night because I'm sound asleep, dead to the world, and in the land of nod. It's as simple as that.

Which just leaves one unanswered question. How is it that so many stay-at-home mums manage all the stuff that I do every day yet still manage to get up several times each night?

That's easy. I'm not like them.

I'm a man.

Go easy on me.


  1. I'm going to disagree with you there! The slightest cough or snuffle from our youngest, Tom, and I'm there like a shot, hovering by his bedside, sniffing his nappy to make sure he's not poohed in his sleep...

  2. Yes! "Woman's" work -- i.e. looking after the children is hard. I have long though about why I am always so tired by looking after them.

    Cute pic of the teddy!

  3. On occasions my husband will kindly wake me up to tell me that the baby is awake. When it happened this week I asked him nicely to change his nappy while I made his bottle. When I came back they were BOTH fast asleep.

    Well done for being honest. I am coming to realise that this being at home with a child is the hardest job I have ever done and up until I went on maternity leave I was responsible for 9 people who acted like children a lot of the time! They were a walk in the park compared to this.

  4. Glad someone's keeping the male end up round here Steve. Well done!

    It's a tough job, to be sure Susanna. But it's also the most fun I've had in years.

    And although it's hard, Kelly, the job satisfaction is sky-high - with the added bonus of a real walk in the park when the weather's fine!

  5. In the all too brief spell that I was the breadwinner, and my wife was staying-at-home, we would split it. I would do Fri/Sat as it wasn't a work night (for me) and then I would get up at least one night in the week. When my wife was most tired. I wake at the very inkling of noise from my boy, like if I hear him getting up for the toilet, or to make his way to my pit. Now obviously it is my remit, and I don't tend to sleep through. I don't know why that is. I know my best mate sleeps through, but he sleeps through anything. And I agree on at least one score, rearing children is a slog, a beautiful one, but a slog all the same.

  6. I think that as a mummy, I have an inbuilt radar that I just can not turn off. I wake at the slightesat noise and just have to see what it is, I even wake when I dont hear a noise and have to check!! MadDad does one night shift with the boys on a Friday and I sleep like the dead!!! I think a lot of it is to do with knowing that someone else is taking the responsibility.

  7. I am so pleased to hear someone appreciating how hard 'woman's work' (or man's work in your case) is. So many people seem to think stay-at-home-parents (I'm wording that carefull) sit around and drink coffee all day. It is the most exhausting job I have ever done too but also the most rewarding. Sounds like you are doing a great job at it. In fact I've seen you with Charlie so I know for a fact that you are.

  8. I'm genuinely not sure how I'm still alive some days. Life with Kai is definitely a 24 hour job, I have been the one getting up with him every night (often several times) for 17 months, then we're up at 6.30 ready to start again. It's not that Ant wouldn't, it's just that if he looses to much sleep he is grumpy and horrible, liable to nod off at any moment, and I decided he was more help to me during daylight hours if he got his zzz's in. I get to go back to bed on Sat & Sun mornings which is my trade-off.

    You men, you just don't have the stamina... ;)(although the fact you admit to it makes me forgive you...)

  9. Got to say that I sleep very deeply and Dave doesn't. Our little sleep deprivers are of the sort when if you can get to them fast you have a fighting chance of them going back to sleep pretty quickly. If you don't you are in for the long haul. I don't appear to hear the calls until the long haul phase. Dave gets up most of the time.... But I do get up with them in the morning, any time from 6 so I reckon that is a fair trade off.

  10. Too right about a women's work being tough - that's exactly why I head out to the office each day!

  11. I cant write/talk for the tears of laughter.. I love the fact the different sexes can use the excuse of 'I'm a man' or a 'I'm a woman'!

    I was only guilty of it yesterday when we realized Oli's cot needed lowering .. Jon said to me why don't you do it.. I replied with 'I'm a Woman' .

    His jobs are to simply go to work & attempt any diy the house needs.
    His turn to do feeds tonight.. I'm sure I'll be the first one awake , I might as well do them. I seem to be programmed to instantly wake up and robot walk to Oli's room!


  12. My husband looks after Sam 2 full days & 3 afternoons a week. He also works 4 nights a week so I work all day and then am up all night if Sam chooses. Even on the days Craig is off I still get up with Sam, not just because he doesn't wake up (it'd be very easy just to nudge him until he did) but becaue I feel so bloody guilty that I go to work all day (which is the easy job) whereas Craig has to entertain a 17 month old baby who hates to sit down.
    I don't blame you for being knackered, Craig is too. It's the hardest job in the world and I hate to admit but I couldn't do it, as much as I love my baby.

  13. Yes, the old bears are the best eh? They like old warhorses, strong and can stand anything.

    The best time was when Husband said to me after having the kids when little:
    I don't know how you do it. Treasured that one. xxxx

  14. My husband has often said 'I honestly don't know how you do it'.
    I think it's different for each family. I was the get up in the nighter because I was breastfeeding and it honestly didn't bother me. But then they did both sleep through from an early age so I guess I had it easy.
    But even now if one wakes because they are ill or need the toilet etc, I'm up like a shot.
    The cat once knocked an ornament off a shelf in the lounge in the middle of the night onto a wooden floor and I totally slept through that!

  15. I definately think that there is some genuine reason why men don't seem to hear the kids.

    Thanks to a hacking cough I've slept on the sofa the last few nights, leaving OH in bed with his door and the kids doors open. Can he hear them when they wake up? No.

    This morning I heard Ben get up, walk across the landing into the master bedroom and start chatting to his Daddy, I rolled over happy that his Daddy would wake up and hopefully put him back to bed if it was before 6.30 and guess what... OH woke up at 7:30 when I yelled up the stairs that the baby was awake to find our toddler on the bedroom floor!

  16. Hmm. From a lone working parent with two light sleepers I'd have to say grrr hmphh grumble moan yawn.... :-)

  17. Yay a bear called George!

    My husband could sleep through our building being bombed! Seriously. he hears nothing. Thank you for admiring my tree today- that sounds weird but you know what I mean. Staying at home with a baby is harder than any of the jobs I've had- even the really crappy ones where my boss was a maniac! Oh well, they'll be at school soon. right? eek

  18. Women's work. Yes, I identify with this post. I looked after our first born (15 years ago) for about four months when my wife went back to work and I was "freelancing". I was exhausted by the time she got back at 6pm after tending to my son who, I realise now, was actually an easy baby who slept well but needed feeding and changing about seven times a day or so.

    I actually thought during this time I could write while he slept. Ha! He slept, I slept.

  19. That's like Mini and Edward, she has "Teddy White" (now sadly more Grey than white) that world war three will break out if he's ever lost. She left it in Maccy D s a while ago, and I had to run back to the High Street, praying it was there.
    Edward on the other hand shows no interest in having a bear in bed all night, apart from his Scouty bear, but even he is subject to be flung from the cot.

  20. Nicely put, Ian. The beautiful slog... sounds like the title of a book!

    Good point, MH. I suppose knowing, deep down, that Sarah is on a hair-trigger means I stay oblivious to it

    Oh, if only, Josie. Nice thought, though...

    Damn right, Josie. And I'm happy to admit it! Can you imagine if men had to give birth?

    That's a pretty good incentive for rising smartly and attending to them, BiB... might even motivate me, you never know.

    Ah, the sanctuary of the office Glowstars... if only!

    Glad it made you laugh, Emma. As a man, I'm used to people laughing at the things I do. Oh well...

    That sounds like a well-worked system nyaym. Anything that works, well... works! And everyone copes with a different strategy.

    I don't know how I do it, Jenny. In fact, at lot of the time I don't...

    Good point Tara - it's about being tuned in to a different frequency of sound, isn't it? Mind you, I did once sleep through an earthquake... so maybe I'm deaf to the lot!

    Blimey, WoM, I don't think I'm that bad.... am I?

    Hmmm, good point bmbm! I'll stop complaining...

    Yes, frighteningly quicky Geroge's mum! I'm not wishing it away - the time's too precious - but the to do list keeps on getting longer!

    I had those fond, misguided plans as well, DD. That second novel still remains a distant dream!

    Well Claire, you'll never believe it - he took TWO bears to bed with him last night! And they both stayed put... At this rate there'll be no room for him by this time next week!

  21. Chopper sleeps through N3S's nightime shouts more often than not too.

  22. Most males (including kids) I know seem to suffer from selective deafness. So 'child's crying,' cannot be heard. 'Can you load the diswasher?' cannot be heard. 'Can you lay the table?' and 'Can you make your bed?' cannot be heard. 'Dinner,' 'game/match/race is starting,' and 'what do you want for Christmas?' can always be heard.

  23. I'm glad I'm not alone, DJ!

    What was that Liz? Couldn't quite hear...

  24. Ah dear - see while DOC does the morning school run now, and even when Bub 1 was little and awake every hour and all she wanted was Dad - I'd still wake up. I think there is some kind of Mum radar, that no matter how tired you are it is near impossible to sleep until your kids are. Very true about the life at home being exceptionally exhausting though - plus I think there is something where Men just sleep more soundly than women overall...

  25. My husband gets up with the 15 month old at night. He figures I need my sleep more because I am with both kids all day. I think he is right!

  26. to be honest, in our house it's usually whoever sleeps nearest the door. we change depending on who's the lost tired, has to be up early etc.

  27. I was always the one with night duty around here...ugh! Honestly, I just think women are "wired" to hear the night so much...I think it's a primitive thing!

  28. I think you're right about the radar, April. It's sods law (of course) but since I wrote this post I've been waking up all the time when Charlie's called out in the night - but so has Sarah!!

    Sounds like one really understanding - and light-sleeping - husband you've got there, CM! I'm sure there are a few people reading who might want to know the secret.

    Good, practical solution Heather. We have a similar one sometimes - it's who gets to wear the earplugs!

    Well, men are primitive creatures after all Bee. At least, I am...

  29. It seems I was the last in a long line of (mostly mummy) bloggers to write a post on this subject. After publishing my post people contacted me with their similar posts and thoughts on the subject. I like your post though, because it tells the story from a male point of view and a male that does the care-giving to boot. It's interesting that although you play the traditional mummy role during the day, you're not programmed to adopt the vigilant mummy role at night. Although from your last comment, maybe you are developing a nighttime kid radar. Commiserations.

  30. I'll let you into a secret, RM - that's not the only mum-type thing I don't seem to be programmed to adopt... But the less said about that the better.

  31. I have to say my partner has perfected the rollover. Our bed is close to the wall and i sleep by the wall side. Whenever baby wakes up, I have to climb over him to tend to her and here comes the perfect rollover move! He just rolls onto my side of the bed so that I don't have to climb over him. How thoughtfull! (cringe)

  32. With our first child, my husband stayed home with him and I went to teach. He'd help with nighttime stuff, bringing him for a feed or amusing him if he didn't go back to sleep.

    With our second child, my husband has maintained his earplug habit. I should also mention that the first child is sleeping in our bed, and the second child mostly sleeps through the night in his crib.


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