Dad Down Under 365 – Post Reading and Sleeping

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For the past month I’ve been focusing on sleep and lots of it and guess what – it’s really rather nice. Okay so that is hardly ground breaking news but it wasn’t intended to be. It was about breaking bad sleep habits that were leaving me feeling flat and not particularly excited at the prospect of a day’s toddler wrangling. Falling asleep to car chases and explosions and waking up at 3am with earphones garrotting me does not lend itself to a full and restful night’s sleep. I’m also really bad at thinking I can defeat my bladder, rather than actually get up and take care of business I stubbornly lie awake all night willing myself to ‘win’.

I aimed for lights out at 10pm and with Max not waking until 7:30am that gave me a potentially indulgent 9 ½ hours in the land of nod. Like a naughty schoolboy I broke curfew three times all month and whilst it hasn’t been the most exciting month I do feel so much better for getting some good sleep. The red eyes have been replaced with something resembling white(ish) and the oversized baggage has been reduced to a respectable man bag.


I’ve been drinking camomile tea like a born again hippy, the lighting’s been kept low, the bedding changed regularly, food consumed early and caffeine politely declined. People spend lots of money on all sorts of ways to make themselves feel better and happier, my wife favours Etsy, but this really works and it’s free and it’s lovely. A side perk of the month was the promise to read for 30 minutes each night before bed. I consumed Catcher in the Rye and Jasper Jones which both had me kicking myself for being stupid enough to let the habit slip in the first place.

This entire year is going to be about finding out what works for me and what isn’t so important. Of course I won’t be going to bed at 9:30pm each night but I will make a conscious effort to get more sleep, quality sleep. I discovered that telly in the bedroom will be a no no in future. Whilst I won’t be reading every night I really enjoyed it and my brain has been thanking me all month. I also learnt that a month is a very long time and that some of the other months will be a big challenge.


What’s Next – Next month’s challenge is all about exercise and has been strategically placed to coincide with the warmer weather that I’m praying we’ll be experiencing very soon. 30mins of rigorous exercise 5 days a week and I hope I can entice one or two of you to join me, it’s ‘only’ a month after all.


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  • Neets

    Aaah sleep. It’s nice isn’t it. Good on you for prioritizing what’s important Matt. When I’ve had a good nights rest, I’m a pleasant person. If not, look out! Could you get Max to whisper in Harper’s ear how to sleep in until 7.30?

    • daddownunder

      Max is always whispering in girls ears, I have no idea what he’s saying though.

  • Em Callaghan

    I’m up for the exercise challenge next month! What better way to celebrate the end of chemo & radio and jump back into LIFE!

    • daddownunder

      Good for you Em, so glad it hasn’t knocked your spirit, love having your good vibes around the blog

  • KezUnprepared

    I’ve had to focus on sleep too lately. My husband gets up at the crack of dawn for work and (not his fault) disturbs me without fail every day. I have had to focus on relaxing my mind and body, because I’ve reached a horrible burn out stage. Something had to give. It’s SO NICE when you’ve had a few good nights of slumber. Priceless. Best medicine. I think I might have to try the exercise thing too – so badly off the wagon. Hope the weather gets less rainy soon so I can stop making excuses!

  • Jonathan Ervine

    I managed to stick to the in bed by 10pm rule fairly well at the start of the month but drifted a bit in the second half of the month. Still, I feel that I did benefit from feeling how an extra hour or so of sleep can really make a difference the next day. I haven’t managed to focus as much on the reading so will have to keep working on that.

    When it comes to caffeine-free hot drinks, I’ve often found that lemon and ginger tea is good for a gentle pick-me-up just after arriving at work. I do feel like a bit of a hippy at work as I don’t chip into the coffee kitty and instead have boxes of at least three or four different sorts of herbal tea in my office!

    • daddownunder

      I’m a closet hippy too Jonathan, I love tea in a very un-English way, almonds pretty good and still learning to love the green stuff.

  • Mel Duker

    My helpful hint Matt. Combine month 1 and month 2… As Sept is getting lighter in the morning but daylight savings hasn’t yet kicked in, if you go to bed early than you can get up early and knock out that half hour without interrupting the routine of the day. Also gives you a half hour of you time everyday which is kinda nice.
    With that written time to get up and take 1st World Dog ( for his walk before toddler wakes …. That is the reason I do it – Bodhi get his daily walk / run and hence I am not dealing with a hyper toddler and dog every morning. Good luck!

    • daddownunder

      I saw your comment a while back Mel and have been following your advice, love going to bed early, getting up early and getting it done. Such a good start to the day.

  • Jodi Gibson

    10:30 works for me with some reading thrown in before. Although I have been known to be so engrossed in a book that when I finally look at the clock thinking it must be about 10:30ish and it is actually 11:30ish!
    I’m in for the exercise. I play netball Wednesday nights and always run Sundays so that’s two days taken care of, just need to fit three more in – most likely will be easier said than done!
    Good luck

    • daddownunder

      10:30pm’s a nice compromise. Favourite book ever Jodi?
      a nice gentle run, a long walk and a cycle done ; )

  • Emily @ Have a laugh on me

    Go the sleeping! That is a lot of sleep and I’m jealous, truly I’d be lucky to get 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep – but just a few more years! Actually that’s crap, with 3 young kids the probability of one of them waking at night is very high. Oh well shit happens. Can’t wait to read about exercise – I’m back on the treadmill which is a start I suppose! Happy Father’s day for tomorrow x

    • daddownunder

      Thanks Em, I think we lucked out with Max, his specialist talent is sleeping, 3 hours in the day and doesn’t wake at night – BOOM!

  • reservoirdad

    Mate, impressed by your discipline. I average 4-5 hours sleep a night. And it’s been like that for about 8 years (since we had kids) and I have moments where I promise myself I’ll go to bed as soon as the kids are asleep but then there’s writing, reading, cleaning, videotaping myself etc. I hate sleep and it’s demands. I’ve given up on believing i can bow down to it. I will fight it now until I die (or fall asleep).

    • daddownunder

      You’re right Clint I show incredible discipline when it comes to sleeping, of all the things to be disciplined at that one is fairly lame. I couldn’t do 4-5 hours, I mean I could, but I’d be even more useless. Good luck in your ongoing battle to beat sleep

  • Yellow_Dandy

    I think I need to focus on more sleep too, can someone explain this to my 2 month old??? Going to bed early really is a challenge, when you get so few ‘me’ hours after the kids go to bed, but it’s Sooo worth it the next day! I need the exercise challenge too for sure! x Karen

    • daddownunder

      What is it with 2 month olds and there lack of respect for others sleep : ) Yeah I think going to bed early is very hard to do consistently but as a treat its very welcome

  • MumOfFiveGirls

    Well done Matt. Amazing what a difference some extra sleep can make to the day! I did pretty well myself and have written a blog to keep me accountable!! Not sure how well I’ll do with the exercise…laying in bed reading sound so much more appealing!! Good luck for the month ahead…you could just look in it as stamina building for February!!!!

    • daddownunder

      Oh jeez, how on earth am I going to write about February : ) Well done to you too – what did you read?