Tag Archives: co-sleeping

Assume the position: The Interloper Fidget, the Duel Laser Death Stare or the Mummy Mount?

You know those articles you see occasionally in the weekend supplements all about the psychology of sleep positions? The ones with the photos of an unfeasibly good looking couple with pressed pyjamas and remarkably dribble-free pillows? The ones that get hastily trotted out in a time when it’s not so much a slow news week, but the globe has pretty much stopped turning and the world’s population is hibernating? Yes, those. I was thinking about those the other day, as I hauled myself out of bed one morning, unrested and terminally fatigued. I was thinking what a load of bollocks they are. They say nothing of the truth of sleeping positions for parents. So, to put the record straight, here is the undefinitive guide to sleep positions of parents.

Firstly, some quick introductions.

Fig 1. Daddy

Fig 1. Daddy

 

This is daddy. Actual daddy does not hang out in skater-wear, but it was slightly Hobson’s choice. I was looking for a fireman, so that I could make an extremely puerile joke about the length of his hose, but I am far too mature for that. (I couldn’t find the hose). I could have gone for a pirate, but the thought of a man lying in bed with a hook instead of a left hand made me wince too much.

 

Fig. 2. Mummy

Fig. 2. Mummy

This is me, mummy. Can I just clarify that this looks absolutely nothing like me, but it is surprisingly hard to find a female Playmobil person, let alone one that resembles a knackered forty four year old with permanent bed-hair. There was a female pirate (a piratess?) but she’s gone missing. I have a suspicion my son has buried her in the garden. So I am stuck with this: a colonial woman with an alarming sense of colour coordination, as well as an even more alarming amount of what looks like ginger stubble on her face. Either that or she’s in early onset leprosy. And just for the record, I do not tend to wear a sun visor in bed.

Fig. 3. The Son

Fig. 3. The Son

 

And this is our three year old son. This is by far the most accurate depiction of a family member. In fact, one might almost call it his doppelganger. Granted, my son has a nose, fingers and a couple of opposable thumbs, but let’s not get picky.

 

 

The primary sleep positions of parents are as follows:

Fig 4. The Parallel Planks

Fig 4. The Parallel Planks

 

The Parallel Planks. Gone are the days of The Spoon, or the Entwined. The Parallel Plank is all about two people who get into bed and are so bloody knackered they haven’t got the energy to turn onto their sides. Lying on the back to sleep is not the most comfortable of positions, but don’t worry. They won’t be asleep for long.

 

 

 

 

Fig 5. The Interloper Fidget

Fig 5. The Interloper Fidget

 

The Interloper Fidget. And so it begins. Entering from the foot of the bed, son has divided the planks and mimics the sleeping parents, with one main difference: he doesn’t shitting-well keep still. As you see in Fig. 5, all three sets of eyes are wide open.

 

 

 

 

Fig 6. The Duel Laser Death Stare

Fig 6. The Duel Laser Death Stare

The Dual Laser Death Stare. Desperate to stop the son from poking his finger up their noses, kicking her in the stomach or kneeing him in the fireman’s hose, ┬áthe parents have now adopted the Dual Laser Death Stare. Glaring at the son from both sides, they futilely attempt to keep him still with only the strength of their combined gazes. Often accompanied by the sound of grinding teeth.

 

 

 

 

Fig 7. The Inversion

Fig 7. The Inversion

The Inversion. Usually only recognised by mummy when she realises she has five small toes in her mouth, the Inversion is popular with kids who like to break the rules. Once awake and conscious of the inverted son, neither parent can then sleep for fear of having to explain to the paediatric A&E consultant just how they kneed their son full in the face and partially suffocated him “by accident”.

 

 

 

 

Fig 8. The Classic N

Fig 8. The Classic N

 

The Classic N. The N stands for No. As in No Sleep. Or as in No, you cannot have both legs on the mattress, actually. One parent enjoys the son grinding his head into their neck, a little like death by sandpaper and compressed windpipe all in one, whilst the other sustains multiple toe-nail induced deep tissue wounds to their upper thigh.

 

 

 

 

Fig. 9. The Pillow Bridge

Fig. 9. The Pillow Bridge

 

The Pillow Bridge. This is by far the most structurally sound of all the positions. Once the son lodges himself between the parents, he assumes the tensile strength of titanium and the load-bearing capacity of a ten foot wide concrete column, and cannot be moved. The Pillow Bridge forces both parents to deploy the Single Buttock Clench to ensure they stay on the bed, thus ensuring the only thing part from their son to go to sleep is the other, semi-dangling bum cheek.

 

 

Fig 10. The Mummy Mount

Fig 10. The Mummy Mount

The Mummy Mount. Whilst a traditional Mummy Mount is what got the parents into this god-forsaken predicament to begin with, this is a completely different kettle of 3 year olds. The side effects of the Mummy Mount are that mummy’s core body temperature rises by 47.5 degrees whilst her lung capacity decreases by 1.25 litres. The son, however, can sleep like a fifty foot log, as that is approximately what he seems to weigh.

 

 

 

Fig 11. The Partial Surrender

Fig 11. The Partial Surrender

The Partial Surrender. This sleep position usually occurs between the hours of 3am and 5am. The Partial Surrender comprises incremental movements from the son that gradually forces one or other parent to give up and leave the bed. In Fig. 11, daddy has surrendered and traipsed to the spare room, whilst mummy secretly wishes she’d bloody escaped there three hours ago.

 

 

 

 

Fig 12. The Total Surrender (or The Victory Starfish)

Fig 12. The Total Surrender (or The Victory Starfish)

 

The Total Surrender (or the Victory Starfish). Both parents have waved the white duvet and vacated in the Total Surrender; one to the spare bed, the other downstairs as it is pointless to try and sleep. The son slumbers in a Victory Starfish, a sleep that is solitary and ultimately refreshing, with only the faint sound from downstairs of a string of vociferous expletives to accompany his gentle snoring.

 

 

 

 

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Detachment parenting

Attachment parenting. I wondered what this was all about when I first heard the phrase a few weeks ago – for me, it conjures up an image of a parent being pulled down the pavement by number of scampering toddlers on retractable dog leads. After a little Googling, it turns out this is not strictly accurate, but for fear of digressing, I do think there is money to be made from this. After all, there are those who make a decent living from taking dogs for a walk on behalf of their owners who have better things to do with their time than go trudging round the neighbourhood in the pissing rain picking up shit as it drops from their dog’s arse – I am sure there are plenty of parents who would pay to have their offspring exercised in the same manner. You can sign me up, for a start.

Anyway, those who advocate attachment parenting are fans of, amongst other things, co-sleeping. I have one word to say about this, but I feel so strongly about it that I feel compelled to repeat it three times: No. No. No. I have the misfortune to experience co-sleeping – usually at about 5am when B starts his morning scream and subsequently wakes up E, who then sees it is light outside and refuses to believe it is not ‘up time’. So in a vain attempt to allow M and I to stay in bed for a while longer, both boys come into bed with us. I have no idea why we have done this more than once, it is horrendous. (Actually, I do know why. It is because we are so fucking knackered that the thought of staying in bed even when the chance of getting any more sleep is as remote as a lottery win, is worth the gamble).

B is generally not too disruptive once we have stopped him crying, but proper sleep is bloody impossible once there is a four month old baby lying beside you. I may close my eyes and pretend that I can fall into an untroubled sleep, but in my head the ‘baby-in-bed’ brain cell springs into action as soon as sleep draws near: it sends out an urgent message on a loop to every nerve ending in my body: don’t roll over, don’t roll over, don’t roll over. No one wants to wake up and discover they have created a baby pancake, so despite my long-term fatigue which means I can fall asleep at the drop of a duvet, a baby lying next to me is the best method known to man to keep sleep away. E is a more tricky proposition in terms of co-sleeping. Sorry, did I say tricky? I meant utterly, teeth grindingly annoying. Despite it being somewhere around 5am, he has usually decided that everyone should be as wide awake as him. He lies next to me, breathing in the oxygen by my face that should rightfully be mine. I move my head away from him a little. He moves his closer. Given that I am already teetering on the edge of the bed due to the fact that there are four bodies sharing a space designed for two, I resign myself to second-hand air. I close my eyes and feel the pull of sleep on me. Then I feel something else. E is tapping my eyelids with his fingers.

“Get off,” I whisper through gritted teeth. The tapping stops. I drift off again. A hand over my mouth brings me hurtling back.

“Get off now,” I try to whisper, but am somewhat impeded by a clammy palm still pressed to my lips. And so it goes on: a finger in my ear, a toe nail scraping down my calf, a knee in my stomach. I am just a sodding human activity centre, although activity centres don’t usually shout ‘if you don’t stop right now, there will be no CBeebies today’ at the top of their voice after a prolonged bout of prodding, pinching and poking.

Even if I wanted to parent my children in an attached kind of way, it is obvious I just do not have what it takes. Attachment parenting is meant to produce empathetic, secure and non-violent children, but it doesn’t seem to work like that in our house. The little foray into attachment parenting which I have encountered in a vain attempt to stay in bed after 5am has only succeeded in ensuring one of us stomps out of the bedroom in a sulk. Okay, so B, at four months old, is a little young to stomp. And M, being much more rational and calm than most, has yet to throw a wobbly. And E is being far too entertained to leave. So in fact, it is I who does the stomping. And thus, have invented a parenting style much more suited to my temperament: detachment parenting.