Over the past nine months I’ve been conducting a human survival experiment.
I’ve not been trialling a new drug, or attempting a David Blaine-styled stunt – I’ve been dad to a baby who isn’t a big fan of sleep.
For every parent that glows about how well their child sleeps, there are another thousand like me who are part of a dark and disturbed club.
The Midnight Shufflers are a select bunch. At night, we can be seen wearing milk-splattered un-coordinated clothing (garments that have just been grabbed at random from the wardrobe in pitch darkness).
Between the hours of 11pm-5am, don’t be surprised to find us rocking back and forth in the nursery, shuffling down the pavement pushing a buggy, or hopelessly cruising the streets in the car looking for the worst road surface in Hampshire to help try and vibrate the baby to sleep.
By day, this is the way to recognise a Midnight Shuffler. He/she will still be wearing milk-spattered clothing, their face will have a glazed/confused appearance and the rings around the eyes will be as striking as those of Jupiter.
It’s a tough time and the thing is, you don’t know when it’s going to end.
My daughter was 18-months-old before she really started to get into a regular sleep pattern.
In that year and a half, I went bald, put on a stone and my youthful skin took on a nice Artex feel.
I’ve read books and consulted sleep experts online and there are a million and one different pieces of advice.
Try lavender oil, soothing music, the sound of waves, rain or running water. Try swaddling, ignoring, talking or singing. You name it, I’ve tried it.
The fact is, he’s just like me when I was a youngster, he can get by on very little sleep.
If I was five I would have loved having a playmate who was beady-eyed at 2am and wanted to have a sing-along. Sadly, I’m not, I’m 37 and grumpy.
Of course, in the good old days there were other methods to help get baby off to sleep.
How many of us remember mum/dad/weird uncle dipping the dummy into a potent alcoholic drink, sliding the dummy into the toothless grin, reassuring us that ‘that’ll knock him out in no time’.
If you tried that in 2011, by the time the dummy had broken the surface of the tipple, you’d have men in balaclavas smashing down your front door, bundling you into a wagon and taking you off to be severely verbally battered about your child’s health.
My time will come though.
When he’s a slothful teenager languishing in bed, the boot will be on the other foot. I’ve bought an air horn…off of the decommissioned Ark Royal.