Back in the day, in the days when a good night’s sleep consisted of a minimum of a solid eight hours, the days when walking barefoot across the carpet didn’t involve the complex navigation of a minefield of small sharply cornered plastic detritus, the days before the definition of a treat included going to the supermarket without any of the children, the clock changes were merely an entertaining eccentricity in the year.
In the spring loosing an hour meant that summer was on its way, and in the autumn there was the joy of an extra hour in bed, and at least a week of feeling more awake and refreshed in the morning because it felt just that little bit later than it really was.
And to be honest until this year the clock changes have treated us fairly kindly; Kitty has been able to adjust without too much of a problem and Elma’s been too little for it to really have an impact.
But this year. Well so far it’s been brutal. On the old time everyone woke up between 6 and 7am, and I know it’s only Wednesday but I promise you I’ve seen 5am accompanied by all three very wide awake children enough times to last the rest of the year already.
And then of course we seem to get caught up in a crazy sort of sleep spiral with overtired little girls crashing out mid afternoon. It’s lovely that they’re getting the sleep they clearly need, and for Kitty it isn’t really a problem, she still goes to bed at the same time quite happily, but my poor little Elma is suffering.
Under the old time Elma napped once during the day; just before lunch if she was at home and just after lunch at nursery, with the promise that they would wake her by 1.30pm if she hadn’t woken before. It sounds unbelievable written down but we’ve discovered by painful experience that if Elma has even a moment of sleep after 1.30 it seems to completely reset her body clock. You can think that she’s exhausted and will fall asleep in a heartbeat but suddenly she’s scampering around like it’s morning, and no matter how much running around, fresh air and all the rest of it we factor into the end of the day she still resists sleep with every ounce of her being.
Cue one increasingly exhausted but very awake little lady.
So if you take 1.30 and make it what used to be 2.30, you can see where we’re going with this one.
Early starts. Long bedtime routines that stretch on into the evening. Let’s just say that I think caffeine is a very wonderful thing right about now. I’m shattered. Possibly more so even than when Pip was a teeny tiny newborn who thought that nights were for catching up together.
And aside from making me firmly in favour of anyone who wants to just have one time and stick with it (I really don’t mind whether it’s GMT or BST, it’s basically much of a muchness), it’s also showing me oh so clearly that for me sleep deprivation isn’t entirely about the amount of actual sleep that I’ve had.
I know that if I went to bed the moment that the girls drifted off and slept all the way through the late evening and the night to whatever extent Pip deems appropriate I would definitely be getting more hours of sleep, but I just can’t do it, and I don’t think it would make me feel any less exhausted.
We get everyone settled and sleepy and then even if I’m still nursing or cuddling Pip I can curl up on the sofa next to H, to chat through our days, or watch a film together. My evenings are the time for planning all the million and one creative projects that whizz round in my head, even if they’re never going to get further than the planning stage; the time for a little knitting, for sewing the buttons on the latest project, or deciding the next colour in a blanket, for writing, or for sorting through the day’s photos.
And it’s those moments that recharge me, that set me up to face the day that’s coming with calmness and patience. If I skip that down time, that dare I say it, “me time”, then I’m not sure it would matter how many hours sleep I’d had, I just don’t feel quite me without it.
I would love it if the girls could find their routine again, and if you’re a veteran of many clock changes please tell me that they will, but for now, if you’re up at 5am, say hi. I’ll be the one crocheting for calm. With my eyes closed.