Going to bed sounds like such a simple pleasure – and it is, if you’re a dad. If you’re a mum, it’s a whole different ball-game, and the route to nocturnal oblivion is littered with chores. Because as I’ve clearly highlighted in the Dad versus Mum blogs so far, all things in parenting are not equal.
Dad’s bedtime routine
1) Dad yawns, and stretches on the sofa, and snuggles in for a cuddle. Moots the idea of going to bed.
2) Has a brief nap on the sofa, while Netflix blares out.
3) Wakes as the dribble reaches his chin and heads off to the bedroom.
4) Removes clothes and places them on the floordrobe.
5) Climbs into bed and falls asleep within the minute.
Mum’s bedtime routine
1) Mum feels tired but just checks Facebook as she hasn’t had much me-time today and disappears down the rabbit-hole for another hour…
2) Mum thinks ‘Right! Bedtime’ before glancing around the living room and spotting toys EVERYWHERE, not to mention the sippy cups, and desiccated popcorn under the sofa. Quicker than a knife-thrower, she lobs the toys onto the Toy Mountain in the corner and gets on her hands and knees to pick up food debris from the floor (she really needs to by a hand-held vacuum) before flicking the lights off and heading into the kitchen with the aforementioned sippy cups…
3) Where she discovers that the dishwasher needs stacking, the dryer needs emptying and the pile of fetid toddler pants on the floor needs loading in to wash the next morning. Fuck the pile of activity books, glue sticks and art offerings on the kitchen table: she can just pretend she’s laid out activities ready for breakfast time. KABOOM – #mummywin.
4) To the bathroom! Time for the crucial nightly beauty routine! Mum grabs a baby wipe from the pack on top of the loo and rubs it around her haggard face, pausing for a moment to take in the bloodshot eyes (sleep? what sleep?) and the ever-increasing laughter – nope – exhaustion lines around them. Eyebrows need doing. So does the ‘tache. But it’s 11.20pm, and there’s a 6am alarm for work – the face fur will have to wait. Until next month, probably.
5) A full 90 minutes after mum first thought ‘I’m tired, I should go to bed’ (yeah, so what if an hour of that was on social media?) she finally arrives at Destination Bedroom! Her beautiful haven, a sanctuary from the children, her personal civilisation. She flicks on the hall light to hear Dad softly – nope, throatily snoring – and crunches through the discarded bread sticks on the floor, the fragrance from the reed diffuser cancelled out by methane. As she drags her weary husk of a body under the duvet and breathes a sigh of relief, the door clicks and in staggers the toddler. And thus, the night begins…
About Alison McGarragh-Murphy
Alison writes and edits stuff for The Motherload, and is also a radio producer and broadcast journalist, a mum of two and a wife of one. Since becoming a mother she has (mostly) gladly swapped a busy social life of gigs, pubs, art galleries and museums for dancing in the kitchen, drinking on the sofa, finger painting and hanging out at the park. She talks incessantly about not having slept for five years.