Is It Bedtime Yet?

You probably need this book, either for yourself, or for a dear friend.

The hilarious, empathetic and sweary Emily Writes has followed up her first essay collection Rants in the Dark with a second collection, Is It Bedtime Yet?

 

Is it bedtime yet? By Emily Writes and Friends, Penguin Random House

 

This time, with typical generosity, and an eye to telling more people’s stories than just her own, she’s included essays from a bunch of other writers.

I wrote a chapter in it (more about that later, but also: SQUEEEE!), and it’s really, honestly, worth the dollars (or pounds or euros even – it’s available everywhere!).

This isn’t a review, because of course I can’t pretend to be a neutral reader. What I’ve got for you here is some ideas of which of your friends this book might well be ideal for – in fact, might be a life-saver, a sanity-saver for.

If you don’t need this book, here are sixteen or so of your friends who do.

And I’m just going to put the book links right here, at the top, so you can find them easily when you’ve read through and realised you have seven different friends to buy for:

If you’re in New Zealand, your local independent bookshop will definitely have the book in stock, and they probably deliver! Unity, The Women’s Bookshop, The Children’s Bookshop, Time Out, Wardini’sScorpio’s and Dunedin’s University Book Shop all have it, for instance. Mighty Ape is a bigger player that delivers overnight.

If you’re not in Aotearoa, you can get it – with free delivery – from the Book Depository.

And it’s available as an e-book, of course! All the links for e-books are here.

Your friend whose kids don’t sleep needs to read Is It Bedtime Yet?

Emily Writes, the poor dear, is famous for having children who DO NOT SLEEP. Lucky for us, she’s channelled her exhaustion into empathy for all the rest of us whose children DO NOT SLEEP. Which of course, is actually most of us – though some parenting books would have you believe otherwise.

 

Emily Writes, signing books at the book launch for Is It Bedtime Yet?

Emily Writes, signing books at the book launch for Is It Bedtime Yet?

 

Here’s an extract from one of Emily’s chapters in Is It Bedtime Yet?, ‘Top Tips for Getting Your Baby to Sleep’:

 

…The best way to get your child to sleep is to accept that they will never sleep. What does sleep really mean? Is it a metaphysical concept from which we truly need to wake?

Have you considered a night light? Have you considered six night lights? Have you considered syncing them so that they simulate a gentle lightning storm in Denmark?

Have you considered getting a product that can act as a security item for your child? How about an axe with the blade dulled slightly? This will help them feel safe at night. Or you could purchase a succubus to crouch at the end of their cot. Most succubi can be summoned at 3am if you stand inside a circle made from the blood of three virgins from Hamilton. Or you can hire them from the “succubus” section on HomeHelp.com.

Read The Iliad to your child. In Homeric Greek.

Babies need to understand and organise their innate circadian rhythms. Spend three days collecting cicadas. Do not eat or sleep. This is an endurance test and how you approach it will dictate your worth as a mother. Do not give in until you have at least 600 cicadas. Train them to play tiny instruments and teach them gentle lullabies like “Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden. When your cicada metal orchestra is complete have it perform for your baby every night between the hours of 8pm and 11.45pm. They’ll be tired. They’re cicadas. They’re not used to this kind of thing. You’re going to need to champion them. Lift their spirits. You can do this, cicada mama.

Avoid coffee. If at all possible try to get your baby onto decaf. Also, most class A drugs have caffeine in them, just something to keep in mind.

Attempt if you can to halt the Earth’s gravitational pull. It can impact the sleep patterns of your baby.

 

Your friend who hates doing craft with their kids (and doesn’t mind swears) needs this book

Wellingtonian Eliza Prestidge Oldfield speaks for most of us in her epic saga about glitter, ‘The Story of a Mum (who tried her best but needed a rest)’. Here’s an extract:

Once upon a time there was a little boy who was almost three and sometimes he could be diabolical.

One day he found an interesting bag of something sparkly at the bottom of art supplies box.

He asked his mum, what is it?

And his mum (who tried her best but needed a rest) said, it’s glitter, even though it wasn’t really glitter, it was that stuff like coloured bits of torn foil paper.

No sooner had she said this than the baby tried to grab the bag and some spilled and it started to get Very Messy. So the mum (who tried her best but needed a rest) said maybe it was a big boy game better for when the baby was asleep.

And everything was ok for a while, because they played with something else.

But things were about to get MUCH worse.

Because later that afternoon when the baby was asleep they got the glitter out again.

The mum (who tried her best but needed a rest and was sometimes over-ambitious) put some double-sided tape on some cardboard and showed the little boy how to put the cardboard in a dish of glitter and make sparkly pictures. She taught him how to sprinkle it back into the dish, making a lovely glittery rain.  And everything was ok for a while, because they were having fun.

glitter4

But things were about to get MUCH worse.

Because the baby woke up. And the mum (who tried her best but needed a rest and was sometimes a complete idiot), said, ok you stay here and I’ll try and get your brother back to sleep.

Well.

The baby would not go back to sleep, and so the mum tried to feed him some milk, but then the little boy (who was almost three and could be quite diabolical), ran up all excited and said LOOK AT ME I AM YOVELY AND CLITTERY. And the mum (who tried her best but needed a rest and was actually fairly patient), said oh my gosh, you are very glittery, back in the playroom now while I feed your brother eh. And everything was ok for a while because the boy went back to his room.

But things were about to get MUCH worse.

Because he came back out again with a handful of glitter and he threw it at the baby. And the mum (who tried her best but needed a rest and was fucked off by this attack), said NO NO NO HE DOESN’T LIKE THAT GO BACK TO YOUR ROOM UNTIL HE HAS FINISHED HIS MILK.

And everything was ok for a while because the boy went back to his room.

But things were about to get MUCH worse.

Because the boy opened the doors and came out with a very big handful of glitter and threw it right in the baby’s face. And the mum (who tried her best but fuck it what does that even mean it’s been eight long months since the baby was born and this is still a day-to-day failure), said OH FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WHAT THE FUCK KID THAT IS REALLY ANNOYING AND INCONSIDERATE. LOOK HE IS CRYING, LOOK YOU MADE HIM CRY, HE DOESN’T LIKE THAT AT ALL, YOU NEED TO RESPECT HIS BOUNDARIES.

And the boy ran away laughing and jumped on the couch, leaving a trail of glitter everyfuckingwhere, and sending showers of glitter all through the lounge with every jump.

glitter1

And everything was not ok but the mum (who tried her best but needed a stiff fucking drink) wanted to make it ok so she got the vacuum cleaner out, but the baby started crying as soon as she put him in his exersaucer, and the boy was still running around the house throwing glitter everywhere and so she said FUCK IT, WE’RE GOING OUT, GO STAND BY THE DOOR AND WAIT FOR ME WHILE I GET THINGS READY.

Your friend who needs to laugh hysterically really, really needs Is It Bedtime Yet?

I learned early on in Emily Writes’ career never to read her pieces when I was lying next to a sleeping child. More than once I woke my baby with snorts of laughter I couldn’t control. She might be the funniest writer in the country.

Here’s an extract from her chapter ‘Translating the crap we say at coffee groups about our kids’:

Oh yes, we have a very strong bond.

Translation: He won’t let me out of my sight including at night so I get no fucking sleep.

It’s a very, very strong bond.

Translation: He likes to watch me poop. And I let him.

He’s adventurous.

Translation: He got stuck half-way under the fridge once and I had to use butter to get him out again. Please assure me that’s normal.

He’s a talker.

Translation: Can you hear me over the sound of his relentless screaming?

He’s very independent.

Translation: Just this morning he told me I’m not his best friend, will never be his best friend, and never have ever ever been his best friend.

He’s a problem solver.

Translation: He moved a chair to cover the hole he put in the wall because he head butted it just to see what would happen if he head-butted a wall.

He’s very advanced.

Translation: He farted once and it gave him such a fright he cried for an hour and your child is already saying Hello in three different languages so I need to say something OK.

He’s bilingual.

Translation: He watches 12 hours of Peppa Pig a day so he has a British accent.

He keeps me on my toes!

Translation: I haven’t slept in four years and sometimes I talk to my wine.

 

Rants in the Dark and Is It Bedtime Yet? by Emily Writes Penguin Random House

 

 

Your friend who got a vasectomy needs this book

One of my favourite moments of the book launch was hearing this short extract from Cameron Leckey’s chapter ‘Rock-A-Bye my balls: Why having a vasectomy made me truly appreciate The Wiggles’:

The procedure itself was so minor that it’s hardly worth writing about, except to say that the urologist had the decency to ensure that his hands were warm, there was sport on the television screen on the ceiling (the grown man’s equivalent of the Wiggles), and he even paid me a compliment on the spaciousness of my scrotum. He sure knew how to make a guy feel special.

 

Your friend who had a traumatic birth needs to read Is It Bedtime Yet?

Francesca writes one of my favourite blogs, My Flatpack Life – like, I love her writing so much that I stalked her on Twitter and Facebook and made her join my writing group.

She writes in Is It Bedtime Yet? about her traumatic experience of childbirth (skip down to the next heading if that’s not what you need to read about just now):

I held my daughter after she was born, for a few minutes. I don’t remember it.

I wonder, is there a difference between holding your child and not knowing it happened, and not holding your child at all?

I remember the midwife, at the head of my bed, noticing the placenta was about to be delivered. It is my last clear memory. This snapshot sits in my head because something jolted in my brain – pay attention, something is about to go wrong.

Like your senses springing to life as they see the headlights driving towards you. I am the proverbial possum, frozen, helpless, but alert. Then the slam of impact. The feeling. The feeling I have no words for.

The placenta is delivered intact. Something comes with it that is not supposed to. Something that is supposed to stay inside my body. My uterus.

 

Your friend who’s depressed needs this book

Emily, through her own writing and activism, and certainly as the editor of The Spinoff Parents and of this book, has done an enormous amount to normalise conversations about the mental health struggles so many parents deal with.

It’s a thread that runs through several of the essays: if you are sad or anxious, you are not alone.

Julia Kerr’s chapter ‘Today I’m going back on my antidepressants’ begins like this:

I weaned myself off anti-depressants about 18 months ago. After six years, I wanted to see if I was able to manage my depression naturally. I was in a safe and happy place in my life and trusted that I would have all of the support I needed to help me on that journey.

I have been mindful of my diet, I have kept moving and I’ve made sure I get fresh air and sunshine. In the lead up to coming off my anti-depressants, I kept good track of my emotions and my triggers. I took note of how I felt at different times and how different things affected me. This time has been crucial in understanding how my head works and what I can do to manage it. I feel like I know myself really well now and that’s really important to me.

And that’s also why I have chosen to go back on my medication.

For the most part, life has been really good. Day to day, I can’t really complain outside the usual stresses of family life. I’m mostly happy.

But man, I’m tired.

 

Emily Writes and Friends, Is It Bedtime Yet? Penguin Random House

I’m gonna be reading at this gig, too! :)

Your friend who inseminated her partner with her buddy’s sperm needs this book

All manner of queer families and their friends may relate to this chapter:

For years we referred to our bathroom as ‘The Masterbatorium’. We were a house of women who liked showers and baths very much, but the naming came from what happened in our bathroom once a month for six months.

A very generous, wonderful male friend, and his very generous, wonderful female partner, would come around to our house. We would put on some music, they would go into the bathroom, and we would go as far away as possible while still being on the property. A little while later they would emerge with sperm. In a container. For us.

 

Your friend whose brain is still going a million miles a minute needs this book

My brain doesn’t work the way it used to, for sure, but it still works very hard, every flipping second of the day.

My chapter, written just for the book, is called ‘The Science of Motherhood’:

As you carry your sleeping six-year-old back to his own bed at three o’clock in the morning, you hold him close, not just to feel his chest expand and relax, but also to shift his centre of gravity nearer and save your poor back. Physics for real life.

You are a walking nutritional calculator and keep a detailed mental food diary for five people. You know that the toddler has eaten a fortnight’s dosage of bananas and rice today, but nothing green. You know that bananas and rice are constipating, so you offer her a couple of prunes as she barrels past, pushing a cardboard box rocket.

You adjust the five-point harness of the baby capsule, chattering to your rugged-up infant, so as not to think too much about the probable force and angle this cosy armour is designed to shield against. You drive a smidgeon under the speed limit.

And a few more people need Is It Bedtime Yet?

There are about sixty short chapters in Is It Bedtime Yet? by about thirty writers. There are people of a variety of genders, ethnicities, sexual orientations and ages. They’re united by, well, by Emily, and by a commitment to being down-to-earth and honest about the delights and despairs of parenthood.

Your friend who is a ‘stay-at-home-dad’ needs this book.

Your friend who gets mistaken for their kids’ grandparent needs this book.

Your vegetarian friend with carnivore kids needs this book.

Your friend with a disabled child, or a kid with extra needs – that friend needs this book.

And pretty much all your tired parent friends – they could all use this book on their bedside table, to make them laugh, weep and feel seen and understood and not alone.

One day they might even sleep in their own bed, next to it.

Here’s where you can buy it

If you’re in New Zealand, your local independent bookshop will definitely have the book in stock, and they probably deliver! UnityThe Women’s BookshopThe Children’s BookshopTime OutWardini’sScorpio’s and Dunedin’s University Book Shop all have it, for instance. Mighty Ape is a bigger player that delivers overnight.

If you’re not in Aotearoa, you can get it – with free delivery – from the Book Depository.

And it’s available as an e-book, of course! All the links for e-books are here.

Enjoy!

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I don't take advertising or sponsorship for anything on Sacraparental. A new way you can give me time to write this kind of article is through Patreon. Come on over and have a look - you even get some behind-the-scenes stuff :)

I don’t take advertising or sponsorship for anything on Sacraparental. A new way you can give me time to write this kind of article is through Patreon. Come on over and have a look – you even get some behind-the-scenes stuff :)

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