The Secret Lives of Parents: What Happens Before 7am

Celine Bell

Celine Bell

Gin fiend. Cheese eater.Mum of boys, two sleep-stealing monsters. Blogging about making sense of the mess, getting the balance right (or not) and trying not to balls it up.

Celine is a London-based writer who has worked in publishing for 15 years. You can check out more of my work at the Tantrum Creative Network and on Huffington Post.
Celine Bell
 What happens before 7am?

Let me tell you.  It isn’t good.  Nothing good happens before 7am (similar to my rule of parties in my twenties – nothing good happens after 2am.  Go home at 2am.  If I’m up at 2am now it is for very different reasons.  Rarely featuring tequila.)

So, before 7am, when non-parents’ alarms go off still leaving them time for the gym before work, or maybe a couple of presses of the snooze button… what do we do?

1.   We negotiate Think Theresa May and her hard Brexit, but we are working on bed-exit.  You may NOT get out of bed until the sun on the Groclock has come up.  You may NOT get out of bed until it’s at least semi bright outside and the coffee has brewed.  Please don’t get up yet; you’ll wake your brother.  Just stay in bed.  I’ll let you have a chocolate button if you stay in bed.

It doesn’t work.  They get up.  You follow them downstairs because you can’t not, they’ll fall off the table / bite the cat / eat the bleach that is in a childproof cupboard that you know they’ll crack.  The day starts here.

2.   We negotiate some more.  Having accepted that at least one adult has to get up, the dialogue starts.  “You get up.  It’s your turn.”  “No way, I did the midnight poo and four renditions of the Gruffalo at bedtime.”  Single parents, I salute you (not for the first time).  If one of you was drinking the night before, the hangover means you throw everything at this.  “If you take them ’til 7.30am I’ll cook dinner all week and deal with all the nappies.”  You would sacrifice a lung to stay in bed right now.

3.   We continue to negotiate.  If you pull the short straw and are downstairs with the kids, the mediation continues.  You aren’t allowed Radio 4, it has to be Chuggington or Octonaughts.  But if they watch Chuggington and sit on the sofa quietly and allow you to put the kettle on, it’s worth it.  They don’t agree.  They pull at your pyjama bottoms, whining for Weetabix and piggy back rides.  Your eyes, still not focussing, can’t make out which child is which, but frankly, that’s not important.  Get them on the sofa.  Put the kettle on.  Coffee is essential right now.

4.   Somebody will need the loo. If they don’t shit themselves you are winning.  When you are supervising the loo situation, the other child(ren) will trash the kitchen.  So you have to deal with a turd (probably before coffee) then avoid treading on Lego.  This is the new normal. Fighting it is pointless.  Just get to the coffee.

5.   At work, you mention that you’ve been up since 4.56am.  “Have you tried putting them to bed later?”  Of course I have.  That just means I have a crap evening, and still have to get up before the milkman.  “A Groclock worked for us.”  If you manage not to punch the smug faces saying this, congratulations.  My children are clearly gifted as they see through the fake sun and demand to get up.  Not helped by me setting it wrongly and the sun coming up at 2am once.  I blame the gin.

6.   As with all things parenting, I’m sure that this is #justaphase.  Like the cluster feeding, the teething, the bottle refusing…. And I look forward to moaning about them sleeping the day away when they are teens.  But for now, I’d really, really like to go back to bed.