Parenting

things to do at 4am

I wrote a version of this post for my Evening Chronicle column this week but was limited by my word count (and the fact that Jake had gone back to sleep so I did too). Here’s a fuller version. What do you get up to during the obligatory night feeds?

You join me in the wee small hours of the morning, which you could do regularly if you also have a small person who doesn’t appreciate that adults prefer to be asleep between midnight and 6am. However, if you’re optimistic like me, you could see it as extra time in your day to get some essential jobs done. Realistically though, here’s what you’re probably doing if you’re awake at 4am waiting for a milk-drunk baby to nod off again:

  • Watching unbelievably addictive reality TV – I must spend 90% of my time during a night feed glued to trashy fly-on-the-wall programmes that require little to no brain activity to watch. My current personal favourites are the Border Security type shows where people have their bananas confiscated before they’re allowed into Australia, and whimsical traffic cop documentary Road Wars. They’re still showing the same ten year old episodes on a continual loop and they’re all essentially the same but it’s perfect for the early hours when anything you have to concentrate on is out of the question. Consisting of the odd car chase through a housing estate, a few incidents involving an idiot with a blurred-out face and no road tax, and grainy dash-cam footage of a Ford Fiesta with 14 passengers in the back being pulled over on the M4, you will find yourself inexplicably glued to the screen until your little one has drifted back off to peaceful slumber.
  • Catching up on your ‘correspondence’ – which essentially means scrolling through your Twitter timeline for 45 minutes and liking a couple of cat videos on Facebook. If you’re lucky there will be some other lonely soul doing exactly the same thing – why not send out a Tweet of despair and see who answers? The best online friendships are maintained through mutual sleep deprivation. Also, don’t bother checking your emails at this hour, unless you are desperate to know how some dubious organisation can help you with your blog’s Google ranking.
  • Playing whatever mobile game has taken over your life – you will have a puzzle game on your phone that once you start, you can’t stop, and find yourself ‘just doing one more level’ even after you could have gone back to bed. You may have a problem. My personal addiction is ‘Two Dots’ – install it and curse me later. Its only saving grace is that you only have five lives before you have to wait for them to regenerate after an hour and a half, so you can’t play it into infinity, but it’s infuriating nonetheless.
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Dribble bibs will buy you some time before the next inevitable outfit change (this lovely example is from The Essential One!)
  • Mopping up milky vomit – you know that clean, dry sleepsuit you put on your just-fed baby? It’s not clean and dry anymore. You quickly realise when you have a newborn that if you changed their clothes every time they spit up milk on them you would run out of clothes within about four hours. As a result, I think most parents set their own acceptable vomit saturation point before they feel they absolutely have to put on a new babygro. Just acknowledge that the best you can do is to try and stem the milky tide with a muslin and you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble.
  • Eating – because you just fancy a little something. And that something will be either cereal or whatever you can pick at in the fridge that requires no cooking. For the love of God, don’t trust yourself with the hob at this time of night. Oh, and don’t keep a chocolate stash in the house so you won’t be tempted – scoffing a Twirl and a King Size Twix in the middle of the night is a sure fire way to pile on more ‘baby weight’.
  • Doing some housework – actually, no. I’ve never done this. It rarely gets done during the day, never mind when I’d rather be asleep. Perhaps you could use some of your ‘correspondence’ time to trawl Google for a cleaner instead. Of course, if your baby is soothed by white noise, multitasking by getting the Hoovering done might actually be doubly beneficial.
  • Marvelling at how beautiful your baby is – of course this depends on the amount of milky vomit, but if you’re lucky enough to have them nod off in your arms, there are few better ways to spend the night. Everything else can wait.
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Zzzzzzz
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