The 5am club

Is anyone else in the 5am club? That’s the time here as I’ve begun writing this. Wilf is very much awake, rolling around his cot and calling ‘Aaaandy’ (but Andy is fast asleep next to me). It’s just not an acceptable hour to start to the day yet. 

I’m used to these early wakes now. At this age, Theo quite liked beginning the day at 4am, where I’d then wear him out for an hour before rocking him back to sleep in his pushchair in the hallway. So I guess this is an improvement with Wilf. Plus, there’s the new perspective I’m trying to shine on things – rather than will myself to get back to sleep, I just accept the fact that I will now be awake. Sometimes Wilf protests so we come downstairs and enjoy easing in to the day together. Other times, like this morning, he’s quite content crashing around his cot and talking to the useless dream sheep which does absolutely nothing to lull him back off. So here I am, at the crack of dawn, mind wandering and now writing.  

I’m actually going to stop believing people when they say their children sleep past 7am as I honestly think that’s impossible. In fact, there’s a lot that I think is impossible. Having now had two children, I am well aware that I fall into the category of mums who have early risers, who wipe their children’s snotty noses on their t-shirts and who think fish fingers are the best creation ever. I think it’s impossible for children to sleep in, to not be covered in dribble or food or mud, and it’s definitely impossible for them to eat broccoli. There’s such a pressure with parenting to feel like you’re doing your best, that you’re all wholesome and earthy (thanks, Instagram), but in reality, it’s a case of just muddling through sometimes.

As parents, we’re forever talking to other parents, albeit interruptedly thanks to the little people we’re chasing after. Comparisons are made without even realising it sometimes. It begins with bump sizes and birth stories, then evolves as our babies grow. We share our babies’ weights, how much they’re sleeping, how weaning is going, the milestones of sitting and crawling and walking. And it goes on. First words, how they’re settling at nursery, how they can swim, how they’re learning to write their name. And I’m sure these moments will continue for many years to come as our children grow into adults, heading out into the big wide world.

Often these comparisons bring comfort; knowing that you’re not alone with the night wakes or refusals of food, that there are other parents out there with the same struggles, helps to soften to blow of the challenges. And as parents, although at times we may feel alone, we actually really aren’t. It’s a club where the solidarity of worrying, tearing our hair out and beaming with pride unites us all.

So here, at 5am, I wonder right now how many other parents’ days have already started. How many have watched the monitor, fingers crossed with hope, willing their little ones to go back to sleep. I wonder how many have leaned over their baby’s cot, rubbing their back and shhhh-ing them, before doing the ninja-like creep out of their bedroom to avoid the creaky floorboards. I wonder then, by 8am, how many parents will feel like they have already done a day’s work. 

There are probably way more glamorous clubs than those that begin at 5am, or those which involve less snot. But this little club – the mum club, the parent club – certainly has its perks too. I’m not sure there are other clubs where you have breakfast with the Paw Patrol theme tune blaring, or where you’re dealing with a mid-nappy change, weeing-by-the-bookshelf-incident, all before 7am. Here’s to that club, with its madness and sleep-deprivation in all its glory.