After three weeks of being up all night with one of the girls, I asked my coffee-morning mums for tips. The conversation that followed was so hilariously absurd it could have been a dream. But then I remembered that in order to dream, I'd need to be asleep... Chance would be a fine thing.
1: One friend had a thick sleepsuit for her son. A magic sleepsuit. She claimed the heavy material made him sweat so much it tired him out, and even made him wear it in the summer, and cut the feet off when he grew too big for it (aged seven).
2: Another friend swears by a complicated rocking/bum-patting/whispering technique. She showed me how, but when I tried, I got it wrong. It's all in the knees apparently. I never was good at aerobics - and much like the Scissor Sisters say "I don't feel like dancing" (especially at 2am).
3: Another friend's mum used to give her son a lamb bone to gnaw on and drive him round for hours. Yes I did just say lamb bone.
4: My dear friend M swears by white noise. Her son sleeps if the hoover and hairdryer are on. If she turns them off, he wakes up, if she leaves them on, she can't sleep. Her husband can't sleep either way as he is so worried about huge electricity bills and house fires.
5: My Russian friend (Using an ancient Russian technique) tucks her kids in so tightly that they physically can't get out bed. They lay pinned to their mattresses till morning - asleep or not.
6: My husband used to recite all the capital cities to our first daughter to get her to sleep. He often bored himself off to the land of nod first, and she would wake him up by hitting him smartly over the head with her bottle.
7: I read the most boring books I can find in my most boring voice... Enid Blighton's Famous Five are good for this. Nothing very exciting ever really happens (but good luck saying "Slow down Dick" or "Hurry up fanny" without snorting).
8: Another friend of mine speaks to her baby via the intercom, so she can remain downstairs watching TV. The secret to this is to make sure the room is pitch black apparently, otherwise it just freaks them out.
Techniques tried which definitely do NOT work
Begging: My four month old baby is still surprised and delighted by her own hands on a daily basis. Trying to explain what a busy day I had and how much I need sleep does not seem to sink in very well.
Shouting "Just go to bloody sleep" - in a loud voice. It only seems to make them more awake, and teaches them the word bloody.
Letting them stay up till they fall asleep of their own accord. They never do.
So there you go. Eight sure fire ways to get a good nights sleep... After you've dressed up, danced with, fed bones to, been for a drive and cleaned the house with, then pinned down, recited, and read to your little ones.. they'll be off to sleep in no time.