If You’ve Just Had Eight Hours Sleep I Don’t Want To Know


My kids aren’t sleeping. Not at all. Which means I’m not sleeping, either.

If you don’t like reading about how shit not sleeping makes you feel then look away now, this is not the blog for you. Come back tomorrow when I’ll be talking about sunnier things like food or interiors or divorce ;)

The not sleeping is ironic perhaps, after all my grand promises on Monday to make changes to my bedtime and morning routines with vows to finally rid myself of my night owl tendencies. Let me tell you, this has not happened: the last four nights I’ve had around four hours of broken sleep with a disturbed sleepless Hux, getting up each morning with my early riser Elfie at around 5.30. Ain’t nobody a morning person at 5-sodding-30.

It’s hurting.

If there’s one thing I can’t do it’s cope on little sleep. The newborn stages were really hard for me for this reason exactly and I thought that with slightly older children I’d move past this. Hoped I’d move past this. Hux has regressed to this stage and become restless, getting in and out of my bed all night, as if he’s back wanting to be fed at all hours. It hasn’t been this bad in months – years, even.

Sleepless nights make everything that much harder. I fudged so many emails yesterday, wishing my boss a lovely day in Prague (he’s in Budapest). I am so short and snappy with the children, something I absolutely despise in myself, but my patience is wafer thin. I cried at something that was completely inconsequential and could not spend two minutes concentrating on anything, even Grey’s Anatomy.

I don’t want to do anything, I don’t want to see anyone. It took me a while to remember when I last washed my hair (Sunday? I still don’t know), my legs could do with a shave and I’ve been wearing outfits soley consisting of black lycra and jersey. I’ve been eating to feed my tired body and mind: croissants, pasta pesto, jacket potato, a whole apple crumble. The last thing I want to do right now is eat clean though it would probably be the best thing for my body; without the energy to shower I definitely don’t have the energy to bring out the spiraliser and make bloody sweet potato noodles.

Everyone is annoying to me. Nobody can say the right thing (with a few exceptions: my parents, some select mum friends who just get it because they’re in it and weirdly my ex husband, what a turn up for the books ;). If one more non-parent gives me friendly advice – “have you tried putting them to bed later?” WHAT DO YOU THINK, GENIUS??!!! – there will be punches thrown. It’s no wonder that sleep deprivation is a form of torture, I literally feel like I could be going insane right now.

I tried to nap yesterday, went to bed after lunch in the hopes of grabbing a well-needed 30 minutes of sleep before a conference call. But it never came – I’m at that stage of such thorough exhaustion that I’ve made myself so alert that I can’t sleep. I remember it well from the newborn days and never wanted it back. Bastard bastard bastard.

So I think it’s fair to say I won’t be a morning person this week. Sorry to let you down, internet, but my teeny tiny dictators had other plans. Maybe next week we’ll get on it, eh?

How To Become A Morning Person

How to become a morning person

There aren’t many things I would change about myself A slightly smaller nose, maybe? A speedier metabolism, or hair that isn’t quite so unruly, perhaps?


One thing I have always been unhappy with is the struggle I face each and every morning to get out of bed. I am not, nor have I ever been, a morning person. Waking up is literally the worst part of my day and I’d do anything to make it easier to get up and at ’em in the mornings. And as the mother of an early riser (5.50am today, WOOHOOH) this does NOT work at all.

I’ve been trying to think of how to describe just how excruciating it feels to wake up: OK so that might be over-egging it a bit, but it really is tough. My brain feels like it’s stuck in syrup, I can’t open my eyes and the only thought I have revolves around going back to sleep. SLEEP, lovely sleep. It literally seems to take me at least half an hour to get over this feeling and it just feels horrible. Is it like this for everyone, or just me?

After 29 years of being me I know my body clock. I’m a night owl and if left to its own devices my body would sleep at midnight and wake up about 8am. This is what happens when the children stay with their Dad, but when they’re at home I revert to going to sleep at midnight and rising at god-knows-what-hour. So I usually get six hours of sleep (usually interrupted) – not enough.

After four years of being fairly sleep deprived (I know I know, I never mention it, you’d never know) I’ve decided to take charge a bit more and work on getting a better quality sleep in each night – and more of it. I’ve done extensive research (i.e. Googled the hell out of this) and have come up with some guidelines to follow over the next week or so to really try and feel more human in the mornings. An experiment, if you like.

I’d love to know how your nights and mornings go: do you feel like you get enough good-quality sleep? Let me know if you have any help on this journey of sleep discovery…

How To Become A Morning Person

Switch off devices

On a usual evening I will be on my iMac, my MacBook, my iPad, Apple TV and one or both of my iPhones (work/home), right up until I go to sleep. It’s a terrible thing but the sidebar of shame really seems to help me drift off. I work a lot in the evenings and need to start limiting screen time so I can switch off and get my brain ready to sleep. I’m making 10pm the device curfew and will turn off everything at this time.

Go to bed (doh)

Do you have a bedtime? I need a bedtime. 10pm is going to be the nominated time I’ll turn the house off and go upstairs to get ready for bed. And no dawdling, either: teeth, face, pjs.


Pre-kids I’d get through three books a week, easy. I loved reading and I miss the way a good book makes you feel – I’ve forgotten how a good book makes you feel! I’m going to make every effort when I get into bed at just-past-10pm to spend at least 20 minutes reading a book in the hopes it’ll help me relax. I even bought a new reading light to help!! So I’m obviously destined for success.

Tidy up

I pretty much do this anyway, but I really don’t like getting up to an untidy house. I’ll make sure the house is sparkling before I go to bed, the thought of which will entice me up out of bed.

Prepare, prepare, prepare

It’s really hectic when you have to fill school bags, make lunch, sponge-clean school clothes (we’ve all been there, sodding stealth yoghurt stains) and hunt for water bottles before you get in the car in the morning. I will do all this the night before.


When Elfie wakes me up pre-6am I send her back to bed to read books (hoping this will train her to just stay in bed one day. I am very optimistic). I then lie in bed, not going back to sleep, just waiting to get up. Meditating (well, you know, not meditating). Thinking about how good sleep feels. It’s kind of a waste of time and I really should just get the hell up and start the day rather than just prolong the agony.

And that’s when my inspiration ended and I Googled ‘how to get up in the morning’. I found this article which was almost completely useless because 50% of the points revolve around an alarm clock and my alarm clock has arms, legs and answers to the name of Elfie. She does not respond well to being placed on the other side of the room.  

So come on, give me some inspo! How can I be better in the mornings? Blog world, you are my last hope.

Should Children Share A Bedroom?


When I moved house almost two years ago post-separation I got a bit sniffy about downsizing my home. This was in the days when I believed that the size of your house was directly relevant to your happiness, you understand, and not because I was a massive insufferable snob back then (HONEST). But I’d been spending the last few years in a four bedroomed house and I literally did not know how my life would adapt to two bedrooms.


I’m one of the luckiest people I know in that I rent a house off my mum and dad. I still pay them rent (so maybe not THE luckiest) and do everything a normal tenant would do – but it means that whenever anything goes wrong or the grass needs mowing my dad will come to do it. And when, as a newly single woman, they offered to rent the house to me, I bit their hand off. It’s in a great area of my town and is a truly wonderful home, but it only has two bedrooms.

Two bedrooms.


Before moving here I was seriously concerned about two bedrooms. How would I survive with no spare bedroom? How would my not-out-of-nappies-at-night children cope without their own space? WHY ARE MY DIAMOND SHOES SO TIGHT?!

The truth is that two bedrooms is one of the loveliest things that ever happened to us.

Elfie and Hux now share a bedroom that has a small separation by way of IKEA’s Stolmen, which I use to store their clothes and give each of them their own identifiable space. Though they were once children that had their own rooms, they now share, and despite me thinking this would not work out well it’s actually been a dream.

Haha, just kidding. I don’t have dreams any more, I just tend to pass out until the next sleep interruption.


In all seriousness I love the closeness that bedroom sharing has brought to my two. They were as thick as thieves before but their bedroom arrangements has turned them into co-conspirators, bosom buddies. Upon waking up (far too early) in the morning they first chat to each other before coming into wake me, and they like to have a bit of a natter before they go to sleep at night… usually the finer points of Woody vs Buzz, or whether or not Spiderman lives in a zoo (Elfie: no, Hux: yes).

I went to check on them at 9pm a couple of evenings ago to find Hux had turned the lights on, piled all his toys on top of a fast asleep Elfie and was playing with Buzz and sitting on her legs. Goodness knows what had happened in the two hours since putting them to bed but it was pretty cute.

I no longer feel sorry for myself for my poor two bedrooms. I LOVE what two bedrooms have given us. Closeness, friendship, hugs, laughter, early mornings… all of it. Sleeping in one room means for Elfie and Hux that their best friend is next to them when they fall asleep and next to them when they wake up. It means they are constantly there to reassure, wind up, comfort and tease. They love it. I love it. All my hesitations were proved wrong pretty quickly. Yes if one wakes up then the other is sometimes disturbed, but they both soon learned to sleep through a loud noise Skream would be proud of.

Last night I heard Elfie say, “You’re my best friend, Hux. I love you sooo much I don’t want you to go to sleep”.

Would you have your children sleep in the same room?

The Golden Hour


Every single night at about 11pm I tiptoe quietly into the bedroom next to mine. I go to Hux first, who is always lying on his tummy, with his nose snuggled into his favourite smelly old muslin cloth. He has a little boy bed head and I bend down to sniff it and kiss his lovely little ears. 50% of the time his head will make it onto the pillow but the rest of the time he’ll be awkwardly sprawled width-ways across the cot. The bedclothes have always been kicked off so I try to tuck them tightly back around his little body without waking him up. The little houdini has worked out how to escape his pyjamas (and nappy!) so I’ve been putting him to sleep in vests and tshirts and I don’t want him to get cold. Raaraa is always there, as is whichever teddy Elfie has decided to gift him with that evening from her large collection.

I turn off the string of car night lights next to his bed and move over to Elfie next. I gently remove whichever object she’s taken to bed with her (last week it was a sketch book, yesterday her purse full of coppers) and make sure she has her favourite bunny within arms reach. She tells me every night before she goes to bed, ‘mummy you MUST kiss me on the forehead FORTY FIVE TIMES’, so I do what I’m told.

I scoot her over to the side of the bed nearest the wall because she has a tendency to roll herself out of bed with a thump and a wail; I shouldn’t laugh at this but it’s kind of funny. Her fairy lights remain on, and if they don’t she is happy to wake you at 5am to demand you jolly well sort it out.

When it comes to parenting for me this 11pm ritual is the most precious time of all. The house is quiet, there’s no pressure to cook dinner, make the school run on time, practice writing (Elfie, not me), reply to emails hoover up crumbs. Our days are busy and it’s time to take a bit of time to relax, reflect on the day and enjoy the silence.

There’s a quote I heard once when I first became a mother and didn’t pay much attention to, but as I travel further down this road of motherhood I come back to it time and time again:

The days are long but the years are short. 

At the moment for me there is nothing truer than this phrase. I might begin our days at 6am feeling grumpy and short-changed on sleep and finish them at midnight after ploughing through work in the only bit of free time I have but these precious moments, they won’t last forever. Looking back at just how small my babies were only a year ago it astounds me how much they’ve grown: how far we have all come.

This is why I have vowed to always take that extra ten minutes every night to stroke my babies’ chubby cheeks, enjoy their sleepy breaths and think about how much I love each little rumpled hair on their head. The days are long but the years are short.

Sleep Is For The Weak

I love sleep

…or so the saying goes. Not as far as I’m concerned… I’m not weak and I still need as much sodding sleep as I can get; eight hours if possible.

When I was mid-way through my bout of PND my mental health nurse spoke to me a lot about sleep. It’s my way of coping in bad times, and I always know something is wrong if I simply want to go to bed and go to sleep at every opportunity. When I was at my worst I would sleep ten hours at night plus an extra two if I could when they kids napped… not normal.

Anyway, one of the conversations we had that stuck with me was about our body’s Circadian Rhythm. We all have our own internal clocks when it comes to sleep and they are programmed for different times; I know that my body functions best when I go to sleep at 12am and wake at 8am, whereas someone else’s (my darling daughter for example) might run from 8pm-5.30am. Ouch.

So as mine and Elfie’s sleep patterns are so poorly matched there are a lot of tired eyes in our house. Mostly mine, in all honesty. I bitch and moan about this on Twitter a lot and am happy that I have some fellow sleep-deprived friends to empathise with. Not happy that they don’t get sleep either, but happy I’m not alone. It’s always a bit of a triumph when one of us gets more than five hours a night and I think we feel each others sleep successes a bit more keenly than others do.


I do not know how she is so chirpy in the mornings.

When I was pregnant I didn’t get this sleep depravation thing. When people told me to “get your sleep in now, you won’t be getting much of it in the future” I just wanted to punch them in the face, because of course my baby would sleep. My baby would know how much its mama needed her 8 hours of shut eye and wouldn’t dare disturb that, would she? I thought it was that easy.

And even now when I moan about how little sleep I get I actually wonder if I’m making a big deal out of it. I wonder if child-free me would look at Work At Home Mother me and think “seriously? What do you do all day? Just sleep then”. I even wonder if I’m laying it on a bit thick and I’m being a big wimp; maybe I sleep more than I think.

So I decided to carry out an experiment. A week ago I downloaded a sleep tracking app that monitors your sleep cycles using the accelerometer in your iPhone. It’s a pretty cool piece of kit that is able to tell when you’re awake, when you’re asleep and when you’re in a deep sleep. It then processes the date into loads of charts and graphs that tells you what quality your sleep was that night. Or, in my case it’s able to tell me what time I went to sleep, what time Elfie woke up and how many times she got up during the night. It’s such a regular occurrence for Elfie to be up and down at night time that I tend to forget what’s transpired in the night and I thought it could be interesting to see exactly how much I’m sleeping.

Here’s my Week Of Real Sleep:

5 hours sleep. No wake-ups, Elfie got up 5.30.
5.5 hours sleep. 3 wake-ups: 1.15am, 3am, 5am, Elfie got up 6.30.
6 hours sleep. 1 long wake-up, from 1.45am to 2.30am, Elfie got up at 6.30.
5.5 hours sleep. 2 wake-ups: 3.30am, 5am, Elfie got up at 6.45 (A LIE-IN!).
5.5 hours sleep. 3 wake-ups: 3.30am, 4.45am, 6am, Elfie got up at 6.45.
5.5 hours sleep. 3 wake-ups: 1am, 4am, 5.45am, Elfie got up at 6.45.
6 hours sleep. 2 wake-ups: 3.45am, 5.30am, Elfie got up at 6.45am.

So, in a nutshell, to function properly I could really do with 56 hours of sleep a week. I seem to be getting 39 hours of sleep, a deficit of 17 hours. My weekly sleep deficit is slightly over 2 nights sleep. Ouch.

And that’s not taking the nightly wake-ups into account, which I swear affects me more than the actual sleep deficit itself. We had 14 of those this week. You know some animals sleep all winter, and if you wake them when they’re deep into hibernation it’s really really bad for their health? Yeah, that’s me. Only I like to hibernate each and every night.

So how do I get my child to sleep more? I kind of think this is just a (bloody long) phase and she’ll grow out of it eventually. In the meantime I’m taking steps to improve my diet and exercise so I’m in optimum health and more ably equipped to deal with the tiredness. Bring on the teenage years when I have to force her out of bed in the mornings.


Before I had a baby I never thought much about sleep as a commodity. It was something I loved to do (and would do as much as possible) but if I ended up at a party on a Wednesday night until 4am it was no big deal. I could sleep at the weekend, right?

Oh, how I laugh at my poor naive selve. In the golden-sleep days I didn’t start work until 10am. 10AM! Living round the corner from work meant I had the morning routine down and didn’t have to get up until 9.10am. So I could get to bed at 3am and still get six hours sleep… which I did more than I’d like to admit. I obviously did not realise how good I had it.

When Elfie was young nightfeeds weren’t a problem; I’d prepared myself for the onslaught of sleepless nights and my life revolved around us both sleeping at the same time. The problem is now we have a semblance of routine, work to do and errands to run. Sleep deprivation is hard when you have to be doing stuff that normal adults do, like have meetings, go to the supermarket, clean the house, blog and cook dinner. This is all very difficult if you are cruising on three hours of sleep a night.

So the recent night time teething has been massively tough, as has the arrival of a new neighbour who gets up to work at 5am, always waking the baby. Now Elfie can be up 2 or 3 times during the night with her teeth and then for the day at 5. This is not what I expected from a fifteen month old and I am slowly going round the bend through lack of sleep.

We’ve had a word with our neighbour, have practically bought shares in Bonjela and my work schedule has eased up so I can nap. We’ve been on the lookout for our Country House Of Dreams (the rental market round here is insane, houses will go within 5 hours!) and we think we have somewhere in my parent’s village that is charming, quiet and will mean lots of lovely sleep. I know this is probably ‘just a phase’ she’s going through and it will improve, but until then please forgive me if the blogging is a little on the light side.

I’m going to bed.

Photo: baby E as a newborn. Aww.