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Sydney, Australia
My musings and meanderings on childhood - mine juxtaposed with that of my kids'. Everyday incidents and images from our life in Sydney turn my thoughts towards my own wonder years growing up in Bandra, Bombay, India.

22 May 2011

Sleep Tight, Goodnight!

C2 (4 months) catches 40 winks

We’ve been playing ‘Musical Beds’ at the Rodericks’ residence for the past few weeks. This is how it pans out: C1 sleeps in her room; C2, in his cot; B and I on our bed. Some time around 2am, C1slinks into our bed. By 3am, C2 cries. I sleep-walk to his cot to soothe him. After about half-an-hour of trying, I plonk him into our bed. His tiny hands encircle my neck in a vice-like grip while his sister’s fingers run feathery-light touches on my face – constantly. By 4am, we’re four in the bed and I’ve had enough. I resign myself to sleeping in C1’s bed – again.

Even their stalling tactics are getting better and better. “Water. Water! Wattttttttter!!!” screams C2 from his cot, his two-year-old brain realising fully well that if he calls for “Mummy” or “Daddy”, we’re not budging. Meanwhile, C1trills out, “Daddy, I want somethingggg...” “What is it?” asks B. “A drink of water.” Two minutes later... “Toilet.” Ten minutes. “My teddy”. Fifteen minutes. “The nightlight”. Her last resort? “A kiss and a cuddle.” Like we can say 'No' to that!

You know why Adam Mansbach’s 'Go the F&#k to Sleep' has gone viral? He’s captured what sooooo many parents think (but hopefully, never say out loud) every night when bedtime battles are waged. Here are the first two verses: **Warning: coarse language, as the title suggests.

The cats nestle close to their kittens now.
The lambs have laid down with the sheep.
You’re cozy and warm in your bed, my dear.
Please go the f&#k to sleep.

The windows are dark in the town, child.
The whales huddle down in the deep.
I’ll read you one very last book if you swear
You’ll go the f&#k to sleep.

To read it in its entirety, click here.

Only since I’ve had kids do I realise why sleep-deprivation is used as a form of torture during war. Ask any new mum what she craves and I can bet you she’ll say “uninterrupted sleep”.  But when I was growing up in Bombay, I don’t recall sleep being such a hotly-debated issue. There was no tension or trauma attached to bedtime. For one, we didn’t have to go to sleep alone. Parents and kids all retired around the same time; more often than not, in the same room and, perhaps, in the same bed. Yes, co-sleeping. We just didn’t have a term for it.

The concept of control-crying or making your kids sleep in their own room was alien to most non-Western societies. It was all about creating a comfortable environment for your child. I’m not sure if my parents got a proper night’s rest. Heck, the only way my brother went to sleep was by tugging on my dad’s ears!

But I do realise that my parents (like most parents in India and around Asia) had a very good support-system: grand-parents and maids to look after the kids while they went off to work. For me, life couldn’t be more different. I’m far away from family and, as a stay-at-home mum, I spend every minute of every day wholly and solely with my kids. So by the time it’s 7pm, you bet I want them in bed – their own, that is.

How do you resolve bedtime battles in your home? What’s your opinion on co-sleeping or control-crying or any sleep-related issue for that matter?


  1. OMG, you poor thing! Naughty C&C! And B is no doubt blissfully unawares?

    We dont have musical beds but we do have interrupted sleep the majority of the week. Its been going so long now that i function and feel better on broken sleep than when rested. If i sleep 8 uninterrupted hours (only happened a couple of times) i feel like death warmed up as my body goes into shock and craves more. The next night i'm sure to be woken a dozen times and i wake somewhat refreshed... What would i do without coffee???!!!!

  2. One thing I remember as well about growing up in Bombay is the lack of institutionalized sleep time. Kids of all ages went to sleep at the same time as the adults. I don't know how infants slept so soundly with the cacophony of night-time chatter, the kulfi wala making his 10pm rounds down the lane, the phone ringing with news from friends and family overseas...

    I certainly understand how/why a sleep hour is established in western countries... It's 8pm and mommy wants some time to herself after catering to your whiny asses all day! Now go the f&#k to sleep! :-)


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