Monday, February 10, 2014

Will slippers help my children sleep? (And musings on the working week)

This evening I read in Modern Mothercraft that "most small children are wholesomely tired at the end of the busy day and quite ready for bed by the time six o'clock comes around." When I read that it was 9 pm, the baby was still awake and gazing adoringly at herself in the mirror, and the toddler had only been asleep 45 minutes. At this point I resisted the urge to throw the book across the room, and instead read about what I ought to have done instead. Apparently, I need to:
  • give my children an early bath, then "dress them in their nightclothes, gowns and slippers so that they will be ready for a quiet half-hour or so with father before they are tucked down for the night"; and 
  • avoid "wild romps and thrillers" before bedtime. 
This evening, I gave them a bath, and dressed them in their nightclothes. They also both had 'quiet' time with both me and their father,although in the case of my toddler, it was probably longer than half and hour due to his well-honed skills in delaying his bedtime. We avoided "wild romps and thrillers", unless you count the book Bears in the Night with its aptly-named Spook Hill. So, it must be the slippers! The slippers must be the key to settling both kids at a reasonable hour!
Unless the problem is the absence of a screen in my children's rooms?

On this advice about bedtime routines, I find it interesting that Mothercraft assumes that the father will be home by 5.30, in time for the quiet half hour before a 6 pm bedtime. This hints at either a shorter working day than today, or a much better commute. My husband works a thirty minute commute from home, and is rarely home before six. By today's standards, that doesn't constitute either a long working day, or a terrible commute. I've never had a job that has had me home by 5.30, unless I've made some sort of special arrangement.  I'm sure plenty of people could manage that, but not enough for the father being home by 5.30 being part of the Government's official recommendations. 

What about in 1945? From what I've gathered, more men worked in the manufacturing sector than any other, which would have included local factories.  So, these men would have had a much shorter distance between their home and place of work. That must have helped them get home by 5.30.  I do wonder: was the idea of a father being home in time for "quiet time" with his children at 5.30 was as unlikely as it is now? The working week had only been reduced to a forty hour week in 1936.  Many men would have been shift workers, and there were of course plenty of women who lost their husbands in World War Two. To these women, the advice about the father being integral to the children's routine would have been salt in an already raw wound. My Grandfather apparently worked away from home days on end, so my grandmother wouldn't have been able to follow this particular piece of advice.

Perhaps, then, this particular piece of advice is unreliable, even by 1945 standards. In that case, maybe I won't bother with the slippers after all. 

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