It’s late afternoon. At least it feels like it is.
My daughter is starting to get tetchy. She’s lost interest in every single toy she owns, she doesn’t fancy any of her favourite games such as Peepo, looking in the mirror or emptying Mummy’s handbag all over the floor and even The Wheels On The Bus seems to have lost its appeal.
“It must be about 10 past four”, I think. “If I can just try and keep her amused for another half an hour.
“Then she can come into the kitchen and watch me make her supper. The change of room will distract her for about five minutes. Then I can bribe her with a few breadsticks until the food is ready.
“She’ll inhale that in about 10 minutes, maximum… Both courses.
“Then I just have to drag out bathtime for as long as possible without her turning blue. Get her ready for bed, say goodnight to Daddy if he is home in time, story, feed, and she’ll be down by 5 to 6. That can’t be too early to put a nine-month-old to bed, can it?”
I steel myself and look at my watch.
It is only half past three!
The point is, I’ve been wondering, when IS it too early to put a child to bed?
It seems there is a cut off point when it comes to too late. But too early?
Sometimes when she’s gone into meltdown and I’m tired and hungry and itching to watch Celebrity Masterchef with a glass of wine, I start to wonder if this all could have been avoided if I’d just got her tucked up in bed as soon as she started to show signs of tiredness.
Is going to bed at 5.30pm once in a while really such a bad thing? Perhaps 5pm would be pushing it.
Over the last couple of weeks, bedtime has been gradually creeping further and further forward.
My daughter has never been a napper. She gets in about an hour of sleep in the morning and hardly ever naps in the afternoon.
The summer holidays have started and there is no longer Rhymetime at the local library or Messy Play at the children’s centre to fill our day.
If she’s lucky we arrange to meet some other babies in a park somewhere, or I just take her to the swings on her own. Otherwise it’s a trip around Lidl and watch Mummy hang washing on the line for entertainment.
And these long hot days haven’t helped. She’s worn out and whinging by late afternoon, refusing to admit defeat and have a rest, and so the best way to satiate her seems to be to start feeding her and winding down for the big sleep.
I’m beginning to wonder if the health advice for the number of hours children are recommended to sleep is really for the wellbeing of the parent.
From about four o’clock onwards we’ve both had enough of each other and the countdown begins to when I can get some precious time of my own to read a book, watch television, or just go to the loo.
The weekends are even worse if we’re at home all day. Her father suggests opening some wine or some snacks, but I know I won’t really get a chance to have any until the baby is far away in the land of nod.
Then she and I both become increasingly restless as the evening drags on, and I dream of the moment I tiptoe out of the nursery door and shut it behind me.
So while she is still too young to understand the concept of time, I steal it from her while she slumbers and relish every moment.
How early do you think is too early to put a baby to bed?