The Seven Stages of the Drop & Run

If you’re a mum (or a dad), you’ll know about the ‘drop and run’; also known as the cornerstone of successful parenthood.

Until July, when my little Wilbur made his entrance into the world, I was unaware of the existence, or indeed importance, of this critical life skill. Alas, it very quickly became abundantly clear.

For those of you unaware of the D&R (aforementioned drop and run), it is the act of getting your baby to sleep, dropping him in his/her moses, pram, cot, and running. A successful D&R is considered to have taken place if your baby stays asleep for at least 20 minutes after the D&R, or at least until you’ve finished your food.


On the little train at Blenheim Palace, after completing the pumpkin hunt! 

Of course, the word ‘drop’ is entirely inaccurate. It suggests a laissez-faire attitude and action. If you think there’s anything laissez-faire about the D&R, you’re a dreamer. In reality, the ‘drop’ is more like a slow-motion, incredibly gentle, fluid motion, where you actually tip-toe to the drop-off location, and you lower your bundle of joy at 0.00001 miles per hour and lay them on the mattress with a delicacy of which a prima ballerina would be proud of. You perform what can only be described as a silent shuffle away, managing to look as if you’re performing the running man dance move across the lightest, bounciest clouds.

The importance of the D&R was illuminated so very brightly back in the early days of our ‘3 ladies 3 babies’ lunches. The three (plus mini three) of us have a maternity leave tradition of lunching together once a week. This usually goes very smoothly, but one day, back in August when the babies were very little, it was a complete shitshow. During the lunch, there must have been a combined attempt at 15 D&Rs. And not one was successful. We were like bloody yo-yos, up and down, each attempt performed with increased delicacy and desperation.

It was at this lunch that we realised there are seven stages of a D&R, and I’ll share these with you now.

Stage 1: Intent. 

This is when you decide to undertake a D&R. Usually correlates with the arrival of your food in a restaurant. Intent can happen when your baby is fast asleep in your arms, or when it’s wide awake. If it’s the latter, good luck to you. If it’s the former, and said baby has passed the ‘flop test’ (when you hold their arm up and let it drop to gage floppiness and thus depth of slumber) you may be in for a successful D&R. On this dark, dark, day back in August (actually bright and sunny), not even passed flop tests threw us a bone.

Stage 2: Execution.

Decision made, it’s time to do this. Ssshh. Sleepy time. *Creeps away*.

Stage 3: Hope.

Perhaps the cruellest stage of them all. This is the brief moment – sometimes second – when you’ve carried out the execution and dare to believe that maybe, just maybe, you’ve gone and done it. You dreamer! You may even be foolish enough to utter the words “I think he/she is asleep”. Oh, that’s embarrassing…because right on cue…a limb suddenly appears from the depth of the pram…followed by: ”Waaaaaaaah”….

Stage 4: Denial.

It’s at this point where denial kicks in. It’s just a hiccup, you think. They’ll be asleep in no time, you think. They are just trying to self-settle, you think. Throughout this stage, your baby is inwardly laughing at you. You dreamer, he/she thinks. But you remain strong, you leave them, you turn a blind eye, for all of about half a minute, when stage 5 kicks in.

Stage 5: Devastation.

You knew it was never going to work. Those chunky chips were destined to meet a cold death. You sigh, you curse, you grit your teeth. A warm lunch was a pipe dream.

Stage 6: Defeat.

There’s no denying it now. Your D&R has well and truly failed. You’re a failure. You begrudgingly pick up your screaming baby before you get the judgment stares from the rest of the restaurant.

Stage 7: Repeat.

As sure as the Northern Star, despite the disaster that was your last D&R attempt, you will, undoubtedly, decide to do it all again. You’ll rock your little monster until they are floppy, and before you know it, you’ll be back at Stage 1. Oh hello, intent, good to see you again.

So there you have it. The seven stages of the Drop & Run.

The lunch I mentioned above ended in us asking for a bottle of sauvignon blanc when offered the dessert menu. Sometimes only wine will do. And there’s nothing like a glass of the good stuff to wash down those cold chips. Chin up.


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