GO THE F**K TO SLEEP aka The night I lost it.

The illustrations are originals by @Paulcarlonillustration on Instagram.

For 5 years now my son and I have been locked in a loving battle of wills.

All I want is 5 more mins of sleep, or 3 mins of silence, or 2 mins to pee in private.

All he wants is to deny me those simple indulgences.

There have been times when this battle has escalated. Times when I’ve “elevated my tone”. Some times when I’ve clapped my hands together and forcefully growled his name. At the worst of times I’ve said his first, middle, and last names in a loud and stern fashion.

But I have never shouted AT him. I’ve never deliberately intimidated him.

It turns out this is because our first born chose the paths of obedience and parent pleasing as his routes to a happy childhood.

His sister, however.

His younger, more feral sister?

She’s different.

She appears to have chosen the paths of dis-obedience and blatant disregard for my Parental will as her particular raison d’etres.

This has really manifested itself recently as, for her second birthday, we removed the high sides of her crib. She now has her “big girl bed” and she is delighted. So delighted she’ll happy finish stories, give you a kiss and climb straight in there.

She enjoys climbing into bed so much that she almost immediately gets back out so she can do it again!


I was sat outside her closed bedroom door. I was on the floor of the hallway, back against the wall, staring at her door handle.

She’d been in there, alone, for about 45 seconds.

The door handle started to move.

Soon there was a giggling then a beaming set of brown doe eyes staring out from the shadows singing,

“Hi Daddee!”

“Darling, go to bed. It’s Night Night time”

She turned on her heels, bounded happily into her bed, under her covers and pulled her duvet up to her chin.

“Night night Daddy”

Door closed.


45 seconds.

Door handle moves.

“Hi Daddee!”



26 times we did this dance.

I did more “stand up-sit downs” in that hallway than I did in 6 months of CrossFit. Even my son asked that I close his bedroom door so she wouldn’t keep waking him up.

I had to break the cycle, she thought it was a game.

I’d explained it wasn’t a game.

I’d told her it was bedtime, I’d told her to stay in bed, I’d explained she needed to sleep to have energy. I’d sang to her, I’d stroked her hair, I threatened to take her cuddly bear away, I’d taken her cuddly bear away. I’d done EVERYTHING.

So this time, when I heard the bed creaking and the joyous bubbly two year placing her tiny foot on the floor, I didn’t wait.

I swung open the door and stood there, backlit by 60W of blinding white hallway light.

I yelled.

Young lady you get back in that bed right now! It is bed time, you will go to sleep! Do not get out of bed again. I am your father and you will respect my authority!!!

Full on yelled.

I had the deliberate intention of instilling fear. It had just gone too far. The hallway floor had pushed me to my parental limits and now I wished for her to fear me enough to not disobey.

She didn’t get out of bed after that.

She went to sleep sniveling and asking for her Mama.

I felt terrible.

I’ve never resorted to such primal a response before.

Why does she do it?

Why does she push and push till reason is thrown out and the only response is to shout?

The thing is she is such a delightful soul. She doesn’t sulk or pout, she doesn’t throw tantrums or lash out at her brother. They have the sweetest relationship together and she lives the happiest of lives every single day.

And yet, there is this streak of stubborn disobedience within her. This challenging nature where she knows what is wrong and right or desired and discouraged, and she dances all over the line between them.

There is a glint in her eyes. A sweet little F YOU that flares up in her pupils as she runs the other direction in the store or stands up in the bath or climbs onto the back of the sofa.

All the while she is laughing such an infectious and glorious laugh that it simultaneously melts your heart and pours fuel in the fire!

This “Go To Bed” dance has me exasperated.

I don’t want to yell.

I don’t want to use fear or intimidation.

I want to reason with her.

But all those parenting techniques I thought I’d perfected over the past 5 years seem to be futile and I’m all out of good ideas.

I want my daughter to drift off to sleep dreaming of rolling sand dunes and white fluffy clouds. Not lying there afraid to move in case her Daddy hears her.


I’ve moved from the hallway floor to my own bed and I’m asleep.

“Hi Daddeee!”

The blurry letterbox of morning eyelids open to reveal that delightfully positive smile all over again.

It’s 6am, a more acceptable time to awake.

She seems to have entirely forgotten the events of the previous night and she is giggling as she climbs under my covers before scooting in for a cuddle.

Parenting: how can it make you feel so terrible and then so wonderful all over the course of one night? How does one 2 ft tall girl hold the power to drive me to emotional highs and lows that no else is capable of? How can I despair and rejoice while staring at the same innocent beautiful grin?

I honestly don’t know. But would I trade it?

Weekend lie-ins, peeing in private, and being listened to or respected, even slightly?

No thanks! I think I’ll hold onto this wee girl for a bit longer.

She’ll sleep eventually, right??

The illustrations are originals by @Paulcarlonillustration on Instagram.

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