I blink in the darkness, trying to orientate myself, and see the tiny frame of my three-year-old hovering over me, her little stuffed monkey clutched beneath her arm.
I glance at the clock on the bedside table and let out an inward groan - 2.30am.
“Can I get in bed with you?” she whispers.
It’s so tempting to pull the covers back and let her slide in next to me. I’ll be asleep again in a few seconds, and I’m sooo tired...but I also know I’ll spend the rest of the night fielding small but powerful elbow blows to my face, and wake in a few hours tired, and with an aching back from sleeping on the edge of the bed. Plus if I let her come in ‘just this once,’ that will be it then; I won’t have another uninterruped night’s sleep until she’s a teenager.
“Come on,” I say, pushing the covers back and leading the little forlorn, nightgowned figure back to her own bed and tucking her in. After a verse of a lullaby and a few kisses, she’s back to sleep and I tiptoe back to bed. This nightime ritual has become a regular occurence between the two of us.
“Being a parent is extremely rewarding and enjoyable, but it isn’t always easy,” Anne Ives confirms with a smile as I arrive at Shortbrook Primary School the next day for a Positive Parenting class on ‘bedtime routine,’ run by parenting practitioners from Sheffield City Council’s parenting service. While it’s sadly true that children don’t come with an instruction manual, the council has, in the past two years, made it their mission to give mums and dads in the city a leg-up, helping them to develop their parenting skills with a series of free classes and workshops. The Evidence-Based Parenting programme hosts sessions all around the city on a range of different topics, designed to help mums and dads develop a parenting toolbox to better cope with common issues - everything from dealing with disobedience, and enjoying hassle free outings, to coping with teenagers’ emotions, and reducing family conflict.
The two-hour session leaves me feeling confident and armed with tons of great ideas to help conquer our bad bedtime habits, and in the few days since the session, I’ve already seen some good results.
If you have an issue, I highly recommend booking yourself some time out to explore some new techniques and options with this highly-supportive team of practitioners - who come armed with tea and biscuits. Perfect.
Visit www.sheffield.gov.uk and search ‘positive parenting’ for more details.