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By trade I am a journalist with a background in current affairs, culture, health and fitness, travel and high profile interviews. I also own and run an outdoor fitness business aimed at people that hate gyms and bootcamps (www.spartanfitnesslondon.co.uk). Most importantly though, I am on Shared Parental Leave from May 31 to October 3. Everyday from 0730 to 1800 I will be in sole charge of a real and completely awesome baby girl.


Saturday, 8 April 2017


A DISTURBING fact is impacting me, my baby and undoubtedly the wider public... shops and department stores across the UK have a policy of forcing babies to remain awake.

I'm not sure whether or not it's a sinister ploy to encourage the consumer to buy items in a frenzied panic or there is an even nastier motive at work, where corporate bosses just want to see small kids crying.

I'm not saying that there is definitely a highly organised force of professional sleep-deprivation operatives mobilised on the aisles of the big stores, or even that a surveillance team watches closed circuit televisions for signs of a potential sleeper. I'm just saying that it seems like there is. On no fewer than five occasions, in different locations, I have been pushing the sleep vehicle (buggy) with A-bomb either completely asleep or in the throes of slow blinking when an inexplicably loud burst of noise has been piped into my baby's eardrum. I will accept that these sound bombs haven't been focused attacks and other members of the public were also hit and were unperturbed. When you have succeeded in inducing sleep by any means though, and out of nowhere a public address system announces "please can a customer service assistant come to the checkout," in a chilling high-pitched tone, one has to ask questions about motives. PING! the once closed eyes are open and crying has been initiated.

Now, my wannabe-sleeper is pretty decent at grabbing some shut-eye and tends to go off with the assistance of songs, motion or a mixture of both. If she is over-tired or struggling to attain the coveted Zs a flat out sprint for roughly 400 metres without rest, regardless of obstacle or road, will do the trick. Today was one of the sprint days... the plonker had already bagged a long lunctime sleep iand the pre-bath quick nap was proving elusive. But armed with the sprint-and-sing technique (not sure if that is patented, I must look into that) I managed it. My inner smug face was on and all was good with the universe. Until, the in-house anti-sleep team at TK Maxx stepped in. I'd foolishly gone in to buy some trousers, on the first floor.

"DOOR OPENING!" shrieked the wall.

No stirring. We were safe.

"DOOR CLOSING," came the second attempt from the piercing voice.

My baby as now awake and crying.

A booming "BING!!!" to signify victory from the Waking Force was the sonic version of a kick in the teeth. Yes, they had won. There were no physically injuries but the mental damage was done. It was now too close to bathtime for me to achieve the early evening nap.

Pre-baby I definitely would have laughed aggressively in the face of a parent who said missing naps was a disaster.

"If they've had a long sleep in the day, they won't need a nap", I might have said.

"If they don't nap in the day it probably means they'll sleep for longer at night", I can imagine myself saying.

Wrong. I can only speak from my six months of experience with one case-study, but that is this: the human baby is the ultimate creature of habit that requires lots of sleep at regular intervals. Once their body clock has set itself you DO NOT mess with it. Well, you can... you can do what you want, but the baby won't thank you and you WILL pay for it.

Cheers TK MAXX – always 60 per cent better at waking babies up, are you?

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