There's early and then there's so early that CBeebies hasn't even started yet. Lizzie Catt has a few tried and tested (just not very rested) survival techniques...
Of all the challenges of motherhood, being dragged kicking and screaming from the land of nod by a full-of-beans mini-person hours before dawn is surely in the top three. To add insult to injury, reach groggily for the remote and you’ll find the situation is far worse than you first thought: CBeebies hasn’t started yet. Seriously though, BBC, 6am? Why so late?
Whether it’s mid-summer and your darling child has been woken with a gurgle of delight by the sun streaming through the (bloody) gap in the (sodding) curtains, or it’s the darkest depths of winter and your offspring has opted to get a three-hour head-start on the sun because, well, they’re insane, getting your parenting head on before Postman Pat has fired up his bright red van is daunting. But it’s not impossible…
You know that bringing a wriggly small person into your bed for a cuddle isn’t going to result in cozy snoozes. Instead, you will be nasally assaulted by a child with very sharp fingernails and a nostril obsession. Keep a bag of toys by the bed and tip the whole lot in – yes, you’ll probably get bashed over the head with Sophie La Girafe, but at least it’ll buy you 30 minutes to scrape your face off the pillow.
RICE, RICE, BABY
If the toys don’t work, take the nuclear option and empty a packet of rice cakes into your bed. On the down side, it’s sticky and disgusting and you’ll spend the morning looking like you’ve developed an alarming skin condition. On the plus side, it’s always good to have snacks about your person.
PHONE IT IN
Older children may be pacified with games and apps on your phone but babies have a knack of mastering the supposedly locked infant sensory app and emailing your bank details to everyone on your contacts list before permanently resetting the default keyboard to Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. It’s not all bad though; by the time they’ve done that, pulled all the business cards and receipts out of the phone case, given them all a good chew then dribbled into the USB charger port, you might even be ready for a coffee.
BUILD A DEN
Pop-up the play tent or chuck a sheet over the kitchen table, add lots of cushions et voila! Good mummy’s imaginative play area/clever mummy’s day bed. Make sure you Instagram a pic of your creation complete with a nauseating caption – ‘early morning camp-out with my mini-me!’ before retreating to the den with half a packet of Maryland cookies.
Extra hours of consciousness require extra calories: fact (probably). ‘First breakfast’ for dawn chorus parents is usually something terribly healthy, like choc-o-flakes, toast points with a nutella dip or two Tracker bars stuck together with Sun-Pat and is, of course, followed by second breakfast at a more civilised hour of the morning.
BACK-TO-BACK PEPPA PIG
You promised yourself that you wouldn’t stream three straight seasons ever again after that day you had tonsillitis and no childcare but if Cat, Rebecca, Ben, Andy and that dog puppet thing are still in bed, it’s Peppa to the rescue. Da-da-da-da-da, da-da-da-da da-da. Oink!