Thursday, 16 December 2010

Quiet Time

There’s a song on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon about time. Something about frittering away the hours and how each year seems shorter.

Having a kid certainly alters time. When I think back to just a few years ago and all those Saturdays I spent mooching around the shops and drinking coffee with friends, my head swims at such luxury (or waste, depending on your point of view).

Parents of new babies always look tired and it’s understandable. But what I didn’t appreciate was this: it’s permanent! You never get those lost hours and days back. They are a write-off. Babies even when they become toddlers don’t know Sundays are usually for lie-ins. So at 6am they’re champing at the bit and it’s generally frowned upon if you leave them to rattle their cup against the bars of their cage, er, I mean cot.

Picking our wee one up from nursery today it was remarked she hasn’t had a daytime nap for ages. I’ve noticed this at weekends too. Occasionally she’ll get grumpy around 4pm and you can tell she’s fighting to stay awake. I love the idea that she’s realised how brilliant life is and why on earth would you want to sleep through any of it.

Looking for a bit of reassurance I found some comments on line including this piece which recommends creating a daily Quiet Time in place of Nap Time. Dim the lights, snuggle up and read a lovely story or two. Sounds great for The Toddler but, oh no, what’s this? Am I unhappy at losing my daily break from micro-managing her? I think I am. Bad Dad.

Previously I’d use the hour to two hours of Nap Time to get things tidied around the house, make food and even treat myself to a decent coffee (memories of those endless Saturday caffeine sessions come flooding back) and a read of a grown up book.

I did remark to the nursery folk that while little people get out of the nap habit, when you get to my age (I’m ancient - mid-30s. I remember when there were only three TV channels.) you could actually do with a wee snooze after lunch to recharge your batteries. I am genuinely jealous of those warm countries where Siestas are part of the norm. I wonder if the UK workforce would be more productive given the opportunity for power naps in offices? Replace all the swivel chairs with recliners padded with luxurious upholstery…

I shudder though when I think of a friend whose work sometimes involved a late shift followed by an early shift with a departmental bed available for the four hours in between. At some point she asked whose job it was to change the sheets. ‘Change the sheets?’ came the reply. Uh oh.

Added to the constantly changing sleep patterns of children is the fact that I’m a bit SAD. Seriously, I slump almost the second I get home on dark evenings and struggle to drag myself awake on dark mornings. It’s always seemed mad to me that what little light we get, especially in the north of Scotland, at this time of year we waste by sitting inside offices. There is of course this plan to switch us permanently to BST. The proposal has its ups and downs. It will apparently help reduce carbon emissions but could spell disaster for Blackpool tourism.

Rather than messing about with the clocks wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could adjust society’s start and finish times to enable us to take advantage of scarce daylight? Start a bit earlier and finish a bit later and take longer for lunch. I already try to get out during the day to go for a quick bike ride or walk. It’s amazing the difference a bit of fresh air and brightness can make.

It means I’m all the more alert when I pick up a grumpy Toddler at teatime.

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