1 Fit your own oxygen mask first
Before attempting the bedtime routine, or attending to the child who’s woken in the wee small hours, make sure you’re prepped. Go for a pee, take a drink, put on your dressing gown, balm those dry lips – you’re going into battle.
2 Check emergency exits are clear
Creaking doors should be open, toys that squeak or sing should be removed and anything that sticks out should be stuck back in. A kerfuffle in the final stages will scupper the whole kit and caboodle.
3 Don’t give in to the temptation to get comfortable
Yes it would be easier to have a light to see by, a blanket to keep you warm and some soft soothing music – but these things need to be switched off and removed before attempting your escape. They’ll only hamper it.
4 Click your Patience Power Up icon
When you’ve finished the feed/changed the nappy/persuaded him to lie back down under the covers, mentally inject yourself with superhero patience. You’re going to need it. You only want to settle them once, any early exits will inevitably result in repeating the whole process. Probably twice.
5 Be zen
Whether you are sitting, lying, leaning, standing or crouching like a hopeful cat at the fishpond, make sure your body is balanced. Don’t allow any one body part to get trapped under a child, tangled in a blanket or wedged in some furniture. Movements post-sleep must be fluid. Stumbling, wrenching or falling on your face will send you straight back to square one.
6 Phase yourself out
As with all aspects of childcare – you can’t just stop. If you’re rocking, patting or stroking, slow it by a beat each time. If you’re singing, fade yourself like a DJ. If you have an arm or hand resting on them, peel yourself away one finger at a time. Lowering a baby into a cot is a particular skill – point 5 should help, then slowly and smoothly slip your arms away.
7 Wait for the breathing cue
This is the secret – do not begin your exit until their breathing is deep and even. Any sooner and your jacket’s on a shoogly nail. Seems a shame to risk your investment when you’re so close to payday. Use the waiting time to get yourself into position – stand from your crouch, gather your goonie round you and then, when you’re sure, take superslow careful steps to the door and pull it closed behind you. Continue the creeping until you’re safe in your bed/on your couch/with your face in your wineglass. Success!