We’ve had two very different types of “nights out” recently: a date night, sans babies, and a full night ‘out’ – as in asleep. Hallelujah!

Saturday night we celebrated Luuk’s birthday with a visit to a new Paris bar – Dernier bar avant la fin du Monde, a play on ‘The Restaurant at the End of the Universe’ from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and on the Mayan calendar, which ends later this year. There’s a countdown on the wall, and if that’s not the first thing you see when you walk in the door then you must be looking at the model Millennium Falcon (Han Solo’s ship in the Star Wars trilogy).

It’s a cocktail bar, really, with bright colourful drinks and not a long menu of things to go with them. Usually I’d think, hey fun drinks, at a description like that but I’m a big fan of long menus and I wouldn’t go far out of my way for a meal without one. (Organising a babysitter then figuring out the metro to a new place in Paris falls under ‘going out of my way’.) The appeal of this particular night spot is, of course, the theme, and with that the huge collection of board games! A whole wall of the main floor of the bar is dedicated to a bookshelf – half books (graphic novels and novels, sci-fi and fantasy… all the biggies and plenty of t’others) and half games (boxes and boxes and bags and tins…)

We ordered drinks (for me a Holy Grail, for Luuk a mint-packed mojito by another name, I forget exactly what) and then picked out a two player game and translated the rules enough to play three rounds. Then we had some food – a platter of delicious succulent beef, flavourful rice, salads and sauce, and another platter, less impressive, with bacon, something similar to bagel crisps, and a toothpaste tube of blue cheese dip. i suppose it was supposed to be space food. It was yummy, but strange.

We were both very tired and were home just the other side of ten.

The other ‘night out’ was last night. Now, this is going to get me in trouble with at least a few parenting-philosophy-fundamentalists (is that an appropriate description? Or is that description going to get me in even more trouble?)

Anyway, with Louis we tried this trick we heard about. Once a baby is three or four months old they can sleep through the night – as in, they don’t need food. Now, the world is far from in unanimous agreement about this, but then again the only thing they all do agree on is that babies are cute. The theory goes that babies get into a habit of waking at certain times, of getting fed at certain intervals, and that the habit can be broken in three nights. Just three. Three miserable little nights.

Theory says that if you don’t feed the baby for two nights in a row they’ll sleep through the third. Mean? Well, we’re not quite that cold. I smell like mum or milk, or a bit of both, so if I go to comfort Elena then I’ll end up feeding her.

So Luuk goes in, gives her a cuddle and some water to drink, her doudou (french for ‘cuddly’ or ‘blankie’ I suppose), her dummy (the french for which is ‘tétine’)…

With Louis, we had two miserable nights and he slept through the third. Now, that was over 18 months ago and they’re very different children. We did not expect Elena to catch on faster, easier… but she did! She woke twice the first night and grizzled for maybe forty minutes in total (not all in one go). The second night she woke once, around four thirty with a little help from the dummy went right back to bed and woke at six… which, since daylight savings just ended, may as well have been seven. Third night she did the same at three-something and then slept till after six.

It’s too soon to crack open the champagne, but so far so good. If she needed feeding during the night, if she weren’t ready for this, then she wouldn’t sleep through, she’d wake and demand food. And I’d give it to her. But if she doesn’t need it then we’re all a hell of a lot better off for a full night’s sleep.

And I’m so relieved that a consistent full night’s sleep is a possibility in the near future. I’m having fantasies about my brain functioning, about whole days without failed attempts at a nap… without even wanting a nap. I can hardly imagine it.