Archive for the tag “Radio 4”

My life according to Radio 4

In the beginning, there was ‘The Archers’.

In order to ‘achieve’ The Archers, Operation ‘Boy Bedtime’ had to start – on the dot – at 6pm. Played and fed, I would stow one baby on the left hip, hold the toddler’s hand with my right, and march them upstairs, hoping that Sensible Son would follow on obediently behind. Baths, pyjamas, books, (for one) boob, then bed.

‘’Nother story… pleazzze,’ Sensible Son would plead, pushing his luck each and every night.
I’d eye the clock, knowing that indulging would seriously jeopardise the all-important intro. ‘Not now, my sweet, more stories tomorrow,’ I’d say, pulling his door to, and preparing to flee.
‘My ’ungry!’ Binary Boy would announce, as if this was anything new.
Once again, I’d look anxiously at the clock, before racing to the kitchen to grab a banana. Thrusting it at my hollow-legged son, I’d kiss him on the cheek before retreating once more in the direction of the landing.
‘Waah!’ Feisty Fellow would wail, even though he had, officially, already been put down. Breaking all the rules, I’d race to his cot, give him a two minute top up to zonk him back out, before cat-burg’ling away, and out of his room. He’d snuffle, sated; arms above head like a surrendering soldier.

And so, I’d make it, with not a second to spare. Adopting the position (horizontal) I’d stretch out on my bed, switch on the radio to indulge in the latest Ambridge shock horror. My decadent reward for another manic MOB day.
***
I can’t remember the first time I missed Linda Snell. Like so many aspects of motherhood, it’s all a bit of a blur. It just happened, I suppose, one day: the inevitable.

As the boys became a little bit older, Operation ‘Boy Bedtime’ took a little longer than before. With the addition of daily doses of Biff and Chip (even the books without words seemed to take some time), with Binary Boy needing pre-bed pees, and with Feisty Fellow on solids, no longer ‘on tap’, there came the fateful evening when I switched on the Archers to find it all over. I’d missed the vital compost cliffhanger; there was no point tuning in tomorrow. I’d trudged downstairs and watched East Enders instead.
***
Now, of course, with the boys ten, nine and seven years old, the Archers, and even East Enders, are programmes of the past. Operation ‘Boy Bedtime’ has become reluctant sporadic showers – ‘Yes I know you’re not visibly dirty but you still need to wash’ – followed by copious comings and goings up and down stairs.

Feisty Fellow, on the whole, still abides by routine, and with a fair wind, and on a good day, is in bed before eight. Binary Boy, on the whole, will take himself off after eight, to burrow in a book. ‘Have you still got your light on?’ I shout up the stairs, sometime after nine. There’s a shuffling, then a click and it all goes dark.
Sensible Son, however, teetering on the edge of morning ‘can’t get out of bed’, stays up later and later at night. ‘But mum,’ he moans, ‘none of my friends go to bed before ten. And anyway,’ he plays his Top Trump, ‘I want to watch the News.’

Admitting that at least his entertainment is educational, I leave Sensible Son to it, and take myself to bed.

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How to guarantee an extra hour in bed

So. The clocks go back tonight. Or is it forward? I always forget.

Once upon a time, I had a little phrase to help me remember: ‘spring back, fall forward’ but then I got confused and thought it could just as well be ‘spring forward, fall back’. As Libby Purves excused her lack of solar expertise on Radio 4’s Midweek the other day, ‘I did humanities.’ I’ll second that.

Anyway. The clocks change tonight.

Part of my reason/excuse for not remembering if it’s forward or back is quite possibly due to the fact that, since the arrival of my little darlings, the change from summer to winter time makes not a blind bit of difference.
‘Oooh,’ squeal excited folk, (often without kids), ‘the clocks are changing – an extra hour in bed.’
‘Oooh,’ I retort, trying very hard to sound pleased for them and not in the slightest bit bitter, ‘how lovely for you.’ An extra hour in bed? About as likely in this house as a half-eaten bar of chocolate.

Because my boys, whilst mostly lovely, have never been great at staying in bed. True, they’re not bad at all at the bed-going process, but once asleep they struggle to stay abed for any significant time. Sleep is viewed as ‘wasted playtime’, star gazing is far more popular than snoring and if they are still asleep at anything with a 7 (or in pre-school days a 6) in it, it is either a miracle or they are probably sick.

When they were tiny, and I was still under the delusion that I could somehow change their nocturnal tendencies, I would anticipate the time change with alternately excitement and dread.

When the clocks went forward, I could revel in being somehow ‘normal’.
‘Oh yes,’ I could join in at convivial coffees, ‘my boys stay in bed until 7am’. This unusual sensation would last a couple of days, before we’d somehow revert back to ‘please let them sleep til after 6’ type.

When the clocks went back, however, I would plan the forthcoming change with Quartz precision. ‘So,’ I would dictate to my sleep deprived self, ‘if I put them to bed an hour later the night before, then surely they might just possibly-pretty-please sleep in for just a teeny bit longer on the day.’ It didn’t work. I tried 1,2,3, and then unlimited, extra hours of staying awake in the desperate hope that it might have some kind of effect. To my eternal disappointment, the late nights had zero impact on my regular as clockwork kids. After too late nights and too early morns, the FOB and I on the other hand, were absolutely exhausted.

Now some ten years later, I have finally worked out how to approach the changing times. I have discovered the secret of the extra hour. What I do is… go to bed an hour earlier.

So, if you are able to re-programme your offspring and somehow wangle that extra hour in bed tomorrow morning, then I have nothing but admiration for you and trust you’ll enjoy your kip. In this house however, we’re off to bed now, the clocks will stay put until we all get up, and tomorrow will just be a very long day.

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